Genspace & Biofabricate 2015


October was an exciting month here at Genspace – we joined Biofabricate 2015 as   hosts of the DIYbio Pop-Up Lab on site at the conference at Microsoft Headquarters in Midtown. This was our 2nd year at the Biofabricate, the annual summit for grown materials where innovators, companies, thought leaders, scientists and designers join to hear and see how biotechnology is facilitating a new material age. Genspace set up the Pop-Up Lab for attendees to learn about the DIYbio community and to get a glimpse of the processes involved in some of the speakers work, co-founder Ellen Jorgensen also gave an inspiring presentation regarding the role of community labs in the world of grown materials, and co-founder Nurit Bar-Shai presented her work with lab-grown bone within the Design Lab. In addition to our participation at the conference, we were delighted to host the BioPigments Workshops following the event. Natsai Audrey Chieza and Thomas Landrain of PILI Bio lead participants in dyeing textiles with bacteria and growing their own ink in the exciting workshop series at Genspace!

Pop-Up Lab 2015


Genspace DIYbio Pop-Up Lab at Biofabricate

The DIYbio Pop-Up Lab invited attendees to engage in hands-on experimentation with Pili Bio’s Bio-ink with a bio-ink filled pen and papers to draw on, A ‘Selfie Stick’ game by Natsai Audrey Cheiza, Bento Bio’s easy-to-use Bento Lab – a laptop-sized biotechnology              lab, Ginko Bio’s cultured fragrances produced by engineered yeast, and                       Mother Dirt’s skin-biome friendly spray. In addition, everyone could practice their          lab technique at the pipette station or get a closer look at some of the materials      discussed during the conference under a microscope at the microscopy station!                                                                                          The lab was a space for everyone to learn about DIYbio and the Genspace community. Through encouraging attendees to interact with the materials, processes, and technologies discussed throughout the day, we hoped to further dialogue, innovation, and ideation leading our material future!

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Images: Inside the lab – pipettes and supplies, Pili Bio stickers and painting, Pili Bio’s Thomas Landrain writing with bio-ink, Bio-ink drawing station and Natsai’s ‘Selfie Stick’ game, Testing Mother Dirt’s skin-biome friendly spray, Bio-ink drawings


BioPigment Workshops


Following the Biofabricate Conference, Genspace was delighted to offer a day of BioPigment Workshops – allowing participants to explore bacterial inks and bacterial dyes with Thomas Landrain of Pili Bio and Natsai Audrey Chieza!


Grow Your Own Ink

Pili Bio’s Thomas Landrain led participants through the process of using soil microbes to produce bacterial inks. Thomas is a co-founder of Pili Bio as well as La Paillasse, the first community biotech lab based in Paris.




Faber Futures | Biofabricating Color

Natsai Audrey Chieza taught participants how to dye and print natural fiber materials with bacteria, experiencing hands on the tension between strict laboratory protocol and creative, experimental material processes.




These workshops were made possible with the generous support of BioFabricate Summit 2015!                                
Special Thanks to: Suzanne Lee, Amy Congdon, and Annelie Koller
Genspace co-founder Nurit Bar-Shai and member Ali Schachtschneider
and to’s Marie-Sarah Adenis
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Genspace wins Community Lab Track Prize and Gold Medal at iGEM 2015

IMG_5992Please join us in congratulating the 2015 Genpace iGEM team! Consisting of adult Genspace members, college students, and an intrepid band of local high school students, they slaved away in the lab all summer long. Their winning project, SuperFUNd Gowanus, was centered around the highly-polluted Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. The team built a working biosensor of sewage contamination to alert the surrounding community of water contamination once the canal undergoes its scheduled SuperFund-mandated cleanup. They also extracted DNA from canal bottom sludge microbes and probed it for potential useful biochemical pathways. You can see the full description of their project on their wiki.

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Open Petri Dish Night No. 1

Untitled 3Genspace members gathered together to ‘lift their lids’ at the first Open Petri Dish Night!

The informal social was a members’ only event to strengthen the Genspace community. Overall, the night was a huge success, and a wonderful opportunity for the potential development of cross-platform collaborations, skill sharing and innovative ideas. The conversation was diverse as artists and scientists shared their current projects, research and experiments. Topics of discussion ranged from bacteria and fungi, to the Gowanus Canal, among many others.


Members gathered at the table for conversation

Members were inspired and left with thought-provoking ideas. Everyone was excited to continue the conversation at the next Open Petri Dish Night.


Above, left to right: Roger Peters Blanc, Ali Schachtschneider, Ellen Jorgensen, Jan Mun, Annelie Koller, Claire Durand-Gasselin, Blacki Migliozzi, Julie Wolf


Top left: Ali and Silvio; Silvio with his drying scoby sheet; members  Annelie, Claire, Julie, Roy Buchanan, Roger and Ali around the table.

The members included a range from artists to scientists:

Annelie Koller –
Ali Schachtschneider –
Blacki Migliozzi –
Claire Durand-Gasselin –
Ellen Jorgensen –
Jan Mun –
Julie Wolf –
Roger Peters Blanc –
Roy Buchanan –
Silvio Tinello –
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IDEAS CITY 2015: The Collective NYC Biome Map


Petri-plates with bacteria modified with fluorescent protein under UV light, show parts of NYC grid map.
(Photo credit Marta Molina Gomez and Ali Schachtschneider)


Genspace citizen science biotech lab and scientist Christine Marizzi from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s DNA Learning Center worked together to create a map of NYCs collective microbiome, as part of the New Museum’s IDEAS CITY Festival 2015.

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               Painting with bacteria on site at IDEAS CITY. (Photo credit Bella Cohen)

The theme of IDEAS CITY Festival 2015 was The Invisible City, an homage to Italo Calvino’s literary masterpiece. This theme is rooted in civic action, with each of the Festival’s platforms serving as an invitation to explore questions of transparency and surveillance, citizenship and representation, expression and suppression, participation and dissent, and the enduring quest for visibility in the city.
During three days of conferences, debates, workshops, performances, and architectural and artistic interventions, IDEAS CITY explored many of these questions.

Genspace approached this year’s theme of The Invisible City by making the invisible visible through offering the public access to NYCs collective microbiome! We set up a tent at IDEAS CITY Festival where people painted with harmless genetically engineered bacteria on petri plates prepared with stencils of a grid of NYC.
In addition the PathoMap “Swab Squad” team joined our tent, explained their project to the public and shared the “SwabKit”, which allows anyone to explore NYC microbiome and help crowd source microbial samples from around the city.

PathoMAP SwabKit

PathoMAP, SwabKIT. You too could become an explorer and help collect microbial samples of your CITY! PathoMap is a project led by Dr. Christopher Mason at Weill Cornell Medical College that began in 2013, to explore the microbiome and metagenome of New York City, and sequenced DNA from surfaces across the entire NYC subway system, the Gowanus Canal, and public parks.


In the second part of the event, people joined Genspace and Christine to participate in a hands-on Bacteria Printing Workshop. The painted petri dishes holding the now grown- and visible!- bacteria were printed onto paper and then reassembled into the map of NYCblending the microbial prints into a collective artwork, making the  microbial community of NYC visibleThe artistic hands-on experience was enriched with a lively discussion and background teachings about the perception of Genetic Engineering and microbes in our society. Participants also learned how the scientific community is mapping microbial ecosystems in urban environments and how citizen scientists can get involved.

So what is the microbiome? The microbiome is the ecological community of all microorganisms that share our body space. The human body contains over ten times more microbial cells than human cells, although the entire microbiome weighs only about three pounds. The total number of genes associated with the human microbiome exceeds the total number of human genes by a factor of 100-to-one. We are outnumbered indeed!

Microbes reside everywhere – on land, in water, and in the air – yet they are too small to be seen with the human eye. New York City is a melting pot of cultures, both human and microbial, and every citizen has a personalized microbiome. Collectively we shape New York City’s urban-biome by our lifestyle choices and this unseen microbial world significantly impacts us.

This project succeeded to engage the public to learn about NYC’s microbiome and to collectively create an assemblage of New York City – a microbial-map! The map will be featured on our website which will go live soon.

Stay tuned for more about The Collective NYC Biome Map with upcoming workshops, talks and hands-on activities at Genspace and beyond!

Bacterial Printing workshop III
Bacteria Printing Workshop. (Photo credit: Christine Marizzi)
Bacterial Printing workshop V

The painted plates before printing. (Photo credit: Christine Marizzi)


The event was made possible thanks to:

Genspace at IDEAS CITY 
Ali Schachtschneider
Marta Molina Gomez
Annelie Koller
IDEAS CITY Festival 2015
The New Museum
Genspace NYC  
Project Coordinator & Organizer: Nurit Bar-Shai
Scientific Director at Genspace: Oliver Medvedik
Production & Design Coordinator: Ali Schachtschneider, Marta Molina Gomez
Christine Marizzi, DNA Learning Center
Project Scientific Coordinator
Instructor, NYC Microbiome Map Printing Workshop
OMTA (Tal & Omer Golan)
NYC Biome Map Design
PathoMAP team
Project Leader:  Christopher Mason at Weill Cornell Medical College
Project Coordinator: Ebrahim Afshinnekoo
Post-doc Associate and Visualization Guru: Elizabeth Henaff
Artist in Residence: Dave Rife
Artist in Residence: Gabe Liberti
Sylvia Saborio, VEEVO
Tansgenic Bacteria Printing




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Biofabricate: Genspace Pop Up Lab

Genspace_Biofabricate_imgGenspace set up a pop-up DIYBio LAB at ‘BIOFABRICATE’,  The world’s first summit dedicated to biofabrication for future industrial and consumer products, organized by Suzanne Lee of Biocouture in partnership with Synbiobeta.

The event featured a full day of speakers and keynote talks from pioneering biomaterial, biotech and biofabrication start-ups along with key researchers, designers, thought leaders and academics, as well as multiple workshops, a design lab and the pop up lab.

The pop up lab was a space for people to come and ‘Grow Your Own Scoby’ and make necklaces filled with culture to take home, interact with the material in a living, grown, and dried state, check out slime mold and mycelium under the microscope, or learn how to pipette, while chatting with members about Genspace and biofabrication! People could come and interact with some of the materials discussed throughout the day, and learn how a DIY lab could support them in their projects. A few Genspace members projects were displayed along with the pop up lab as well as in the design lab, and multiple members spoke throughout the day.

IMG_8687the Pop Up Lab
IMG_8691the lab and some members projects
IMG_8683GYOS: grow your own scoby!IMG_8669scoby: living, wet and dry culturesIMG_8680the pipetting stationIMG_8689Some members projects featured in the Pop Up lab

Featuring members projects:

Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Stranger Visions, exploring the traces of the DNA you leave behind; Ali Schachtschneider, Fungal Shoes, Bacterial Textiles and Garmentobject exploring the bodies interaction with biomaterial technology through the growth of cellulose, mycelium and bacterial materials; Fabiola Einhorn, 174 Magazine, exploring how Synthetic Biology and bio-tech fabrications will integrate into our everyday life and citizens access to its making; And at the Design Lab: Genspace 2012 iGEM team collaboration with Terreform One, Gen2Seat, a biodegradable Genetic Generation sitting Module; Sylvia Saborio, Vee Vo, creating wall papers tiles using traditional print making techniques and engineered bacteria; and Genspace co-founder Nurit Bar-Shai, Objectivity [tentative], exploring how bacteria communication and network systems might inform smarter design.
IMG_8724 Projects in the Design LabIMG_8725


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