Genspace’s Ellen Jorgensen traveled all the way to Moscow to promote citizen science. She was one of the speakers at DLD Moscow. Held at a repurposed chocolate factory turned tech space, the conference focused on the newest trends and technologies. Russia is an emerging digital giant, and attendees were so interested in Genspace’s brand of nontraditional science education that Ellen ended up delivering a lecture via videoconference to Moscow’s Digital October facility about a month later.
From April 26-29 Genspace invited Mike Ellison and Doug Ridgway to demo their Genomikon system at the fair. We had a large corner booth, and the traffic was brisk. Besides Genomikon, we did bacteria painting which came out great. The fair drew an estimated 28,000 people from the Washington DC area. Most of them did not appreciate how cutting-edge it was for kids to splice together DNA constructs and transform bacteria in a public place, but all the staff from the American Society for Microbiology table stopped by to congratulate us!
Yet another “promise and perils of technology” story. Frankly, we hoped for something less sensational from public television. They interviewed us for hours, and this is the result. The segment with Genspace starts at about 34.5 minutes:
PBS News Hour, April 26th
On April 25th Genspace co-founder Ellen Jorgensen attended the GET Conference at Harvard, where over 100 participants in the Personal Genome Project gathered to hear guest speakers and Harvard faculty give talks about the future of genomics. She was there because somewhere enshrined in a 96-well plate is her total genomic DNA, waiting to be completely sequenced through the PGP project, a brainchild of Dr. George Church (sitting to the right of Ellen in the front row in the photo below). At the conference they also collected blood samples to create pluripotent stem cell lines, and a researcher tested sweat gland density on the fingers of the participants with a simple starch+iodine staining procedure – see Ellen’s thumb below – the black dots are individual glands.
28,000 people. That’s how many attendees this event in Washington , D.C. drew. Genspace had a great booth, right on a corner and in one of the main aisles of traffic. And we invited Dr. Mike Ellison and Dr. Doug Ridgway from the University of Alberta to demo their iGEM team’s Genomikon synthetic biology toolkit. We can say without a doubt that we were the ONLY booth at the fair where middle schoolers and up could sit down and do real genetic engineering on the spot. They built a plasmid in about half an hour using Genomikon DNA parts (such as the RFP gene) – then transformed E. coli with it. We took the plates back to the lab and sent them photos of the results.
And then there was the bacterial painting activity- fun for all ages as kids used a toothpick to “paint” red, purple, green and brown bacteria onto agar plates which turned out spectacular!
More pics of the Festival:
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