Clock of Evolution

Dr. Peg Riley and Dr. Sheila Patek taught a class this semester called Quantitative Systems Biology. Their class was comprised of students in their freshman year who were part of a Biology Talent Advancement Program, more commonly known as BioTAP. To add a little fun to the work load, Peg assigned an extra credit assignment, which entailed rewriting the lyrics to a song, recording them, and accompanying them with a video. The winners were rewarded with free Massachusetts Academy of Sciences memberships and some points added to their final grade.

The winning team remixed the song Tik Tok by Kesha, replacing the original lyrics with ones about evolution and other aspects of biology. The winners included Cindy Hession, Ayesha Sundaram, Julie Sun, Bianca Jambahkar, Chris Wu, Abby Needleman, and Deborah Lee. “We finalized the lyrics and then found pictures. Ayesha, Julie and I were the lyrics writers and the rest of the group found pictures and made the video and put in the subtitles for the lyrics,” said Cindy. She continued, “We recorded two versions and put them together using Garage Band with a friend who is a [Computer Science] major. We wanted it to sound like the best product we could come up with.” The group noted that it took them a few weeks to come together and get everything done.

There were no guidelines as to what song they could pick, but Tik Tok was a winning choice for this group. “While we were trying to think of how to rhyme words, Julie thought of Tik Tok because it’s really catchy, and we ended up just banging it out right then and there,” said Ayesha. As for the lyrics, “The course was based on Finch evolution and Sticklebacks, so we used to models we learned about in class and the two essays we each wrote to come up with the lyrics,” Ayesha told us.

It’s not every day that you see a bunch of science majors making and singing a song, but Cindy let us in on the fact that she did choir and chorus in high school so figuring out the tune wasn’t too hard. Cindy added, “It was stuck in my head for a few days after we were done because it was so catchy to sing in my head.” When asked if she liked the assignment, Ayesha exclaimed, “It was so much fun!”

Congratulations to the winners!