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The Institute is a community of researchers dedicated to analyzing complex problems at the interface of biology and society and training the next generation of crossdisciplinary thinkers.

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In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita tore into the Gulf Coast and displaced over a million residents. Trailers provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency became the new homes for many of these people but soon occupants found it hard to breathe, suffering flulike symptoms, stinging eyes, and nosebleeds. The culprit was formaldehyde, which emanated from the hastily assembled, substandard materials used to make the trailers.

In this 2015 documentary, ISG faculty Nicholas Shapiro investigates and reports on the remaining toxic FEMA trailers still in use. Today, Dr. Shapiro and the members of his Carceral Ecologies Lab continue to research hidden toxicity in living environments. Video directed and produced by Mariel Carr in partnership with Grist and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Watch now. Learn More.

Student Experience

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Shreya Ramineni uses her studies in Human Biology and Society B.S. Major and Global Health Minor to explore the connections among academic fields of her interest such as race theory and the culture of science. Read more.

Alumni Activities

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Michaela Gabrielle Serafica, ISG class of 2019 graduate, shares her work experience as a Health Emergency Preparedness Analyst at San Mateo County Health Emergency Medical Services. Read more.

Student Capstone Projects

Students in the Human Biology and Society major at UCLA complete an original research project at the intersection of biology and society in just 10 weeks. Students in Winter and Spring 2020 completed this project remotely during the COVID19 pandemic, and finished them during some of the largest protests against police violence in US history. To view their projects, click here.

Featured Research: Urban Ecology of LA Mammals

Los Angeles County enjoys rich wildlife diversity in the Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains, but little is known about the abundance, biodiversity, and population dynamics of mammals within the built city environment of Los Angeles. Mammals are a charismatic part of ‘nature’, yet public perceptions and interactions with urban mammals have not been characterized in L.A. Wild urban mammals such as raccoons, rats, and opossums can carry diseases transmittable to humans, their pets, or sensitive native wildlife populations. Increased urbanization may lead to increased population size for commensal mammals, which may increase risk of disease transmission to humans. This project consists of four main objectives: (1) to map urban mammalian biodiversity for the LA Biodiversity Atlas; (2) to characterize population dynamics and gene flow within the city for key abundant species using population genomics; (3) to assess locally abundant mammalian wildlife for the presence of pathogens harmful to humans, pets, and other wildlife species; and (4) to understand humans’ perceptions of the values and risks of contact with urban wildlife, through interviewing diverse local experts. The study’s diverse scope provides an unprecedented view of urban mammalian ecology, public health risks, human-animal coexistence, wildlife conflicts and population dynamics in urban Los Angeles.

The project team is comprised of ISG faculty Jessica Lynch, and Christopher Kelty as well as Anthony Friscia (UCLA, IBP), Jamie Lloyd-Smith (UCLA Biomathematics + EEB), Katherine Prager (UCLA, EEB), Sarah Helman (UCLA, EEB), Hazel Byrne, (University of Utah, Department of Anthropology).

Recently at ISG

The Institute's Index

In 2019, ISG faculty gave 15 talks in 9 countries, across 4 continents.


The HBS major is the 8th most popular major in a poll recently taken of incoming UCLA students for the 2020-2021 academic year.


In total, ISG faculty are collaborating with 23 different academic institutions nationally and 12 internationally.


74% of the students that applied to our Class of 2022 HBS major were admitted.

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