At Genspace, our mission is to make biology accessible and exciting to non-scientists and scientists alike. No science background is needed to take our classes and the majority of our participants are new to these subjects. Genspace instructors come from top institutions around New York City to teach advanced biology in an easy-to-understand, hands-on way. Our courses cover biological concepts, lab techniques, genomics, synthetic biology, neuroscience, bioart and biodesign, and social implications of emerging biotech.
Synthetic Biology 101: Let’s Learn How to Engineer Life
Three-part Course: October 20th, 26th, and 27th from 10:00AM - 2:00PM
At a very basic level, synthetic biology is about building biological systems from scratch. By applying this engineering approach to biology, we can understand the rules by which biological systems are constrained, and then apply this knowledge to construct useful biological systems for society. In this three-part class, participants will learn cutting edge synthetic biology using nature's favorite micro-factory - brewer’s yeast!
Biocultures as Interactive Storytelling with Slime Tech Lab
Two-part Course: October 20th and October 27th from 3:00PM - 6:00PM
Slime mold is a bright, vivid, living monoculture. Due to its ability to grow in the pattern of nodes and branches, technologists have been using it as a tool and medium to represent a wide array of efficient systems, from the functionality of the Internet to the decision making patterns of algorithmic artificial intelligence. In week one, we’ll learn about the wonders of slime mold, looking at its ability to solve puzzles as well as its model behaviour for equitable societies, decentralized social cooperation, diversity, and empowered futures. You’ll learn how to inoculate, cultivate and care for your slime mold. In session two, we’ll discuss the experience of witnessing this collaborative performance piece and discuss ways in which you could design new variations. This project will live on the Slime Tech Lab and be available for viewing for the course of the exhibition.
Biohacker Boot Camp: Weeknight Edition
Four-part Course: October 21st - 24th from 6:00PM - 9:00PM
Join us for this hands-on introductory lab class and discover the foundations of modern biotechnology. After learning about the history of biotechnology and the structure of DNA, we'll get in the lab. Course topics include: polymerase chain reaction (PCR), gel electrophoresis, DNA sequencing, bioinformatics, comparative genomics, DNA editing (using restriction enzymes and ligases), uploading DNA circuits (using bacterial transformation and plating techniques), synthetic biology (using modular analysis and design of DNA circuits), Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Bio, and more!
Biohacker boot camp: weekend edition
Three-part course: November 2nd and 3rd from 2:00 PM - 6:00 PM, November 9th from 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Did you know that you can now get your whole genome sequenced for less than an iPhone? And that an organism with specific genes removed doesn't count as a genetically modified organism? Biotechnology touches many aspects of our lives and is changing with blinding speed. This introductory course covers the major characteristics of the molecular heart of the modern biology era: DNA. Learn the techniques that facilitated the biotechnology revolution, get hands-on experience, and find out where the future is going in the Biohacker Boot Camp.
Microbial Minutes in vivo with Julie Wolf
Wednesday, November 6th from 6:30PM - 8:30PM
What's hot in the microbial sciences? Join Julie Wolf for an informal discussion of some of the most recent research from microbiology journals. This monthly gathering features a loosely structured conversation centered around two recent scientific articles. The major findings are contextualized within the history of the field; participants are invited to speculate what these discoveries might mean for the future. Participants of all scientific backgrounds are welcome to join this in vivo version of the American Society for Microbiology YouTube series. Sign up to receive the scientific articles 48 hours before the event via email.
$2 tickets go towards light snacks we provide, and please BYOB or snacks to share!
Cordyceps Cultivation & the Weird World of Mushrooms
Two-part Course: Saturday, November 9th and Saturday, November 23rd 10am - 3pm
In this workshop, participants will get an introduction to mycology, with emphasis on cultivating the bizarre, macabre mushrooms Cordyceps militaris. Topics will include the evolutionary history, life cycle, cultivation, molecular mycology and more!
We will discuss low-tech and high-tech methods for cultivating mushrooms, followed by hands-on learning in the lab. Each participant will go home with their very own inoculated jar of cordyceps to fruit at home, as well as complementary cultures in petri and/or syringes. We will also discuss how to use foraged or cultivated mushrooms for food, natural medicine, material and art. Students are welcome to bring their own specimens if they want to learn how to clone wild crafted mushrooms (legal mushrooms only please!).
This course is also intended to inspire and bring together mushroom-enthusiasts in the area who can myceliate and propagate.
neurohacking 101: analyzing and visualizing brain networks
Python Boot Camp on Sunday, November 10th from 9am-1pm
Neurohacking 101 on Sunday, November 10th from 2pm-8pm
Learn some of the basic techniques used in the cleaning and analysis of fMRI data. We will study brain networks using open source Python tools, pull brain data from servers, and show you how to create your own workflows for manipulation and visualization!
GENOME EDITING WITH CRISPR-Cas9
Four-part course: November 15th, 6-9pm and November 16th, 17th, and 24th from 2-6pm
CRISPR gene editing has been touted as a game changer in DNA science. Now learn how to do it yourself in this intensive lab class. Recommended for participants who have some lab experience or have taken our introductory courses.
Biological membranes and DIY Soapmaking
How is it that soap cleans? In this 3 hour class, we will discuss the chemistry of soap, detergents, and dry cleaning. We will use interactive molecular building exercises and 3D computer modeling to get a feel for how lipid molecules bond and flex and we will learn how specific lipids are relevant to diet and health. The class will culminate in a soap making lab where we create a batch of artisan quality bar soap that can be used at home.
DIY Neuroscience: Mind Reading 101
In this class, you will learn how to use an electroencephalogram (EEG) to collect the ongoing waves of electrical activity in your own brain. Then, you will learn how to interpret this activity and use it to control things in the world. We will conclude with a discussion about the use of such technologies in law and society more generally
The Artistic World of Histology
In this workshop, participants will explore the structure and functions of cells and their affiliated tissues. Students will get a chance to prepare their own wet mount slides for view under the microscope.
IOT 101: Circuits, Computers, NEtworks
Have you ever wished that your plant could tell you when it wanted to be watered? Or maybe you have a project that you’d like to regularly photograph? Or, perhaps you need a custom incubator for research? These are all potential applications of the 'Internet of Things' (IoT).
IoT is the extension of the internet into everyday objects and devices. This class dives into IoT and 'physical computing' by starting with a practical example–an incubator monitor for the laboratory which can send an alert via email, text message or tweet. We will build this device in class and along the way you'll learn basic concepts in electronics and networking through hands-on activities. IoT 101 will prepare you to research and make an Internet-connected device of your own design using open-source tools, publicly-available resources and example projects.
Feast, famine, and flowering plants: understanding epigenetics through mustard plants
Many reports have come out in the news and from not-so-credible sources about the role epigenetics has in our traits and risk for disease and ways to influence your epigenetics, but what is this phenomenon really about? In this class, we will use mustard plants (Arabidopsis thaliana) to explore how genetic information relates to physical characteristics through the epigenetic mechanisms that allow cells to read only the sections of the genetic blueprint that they need. We will also discuss how the lessons learned from model systems like mustard plants relate to human variation and disease.
Painting with Microbes: ASM Agar Art Contest
Join Genspace for a hands-on activity where you'll learn how microbes can be engineered to produce eye-pleasing images and novel materials. Genspace will provide colorful or fluorescent microbes that you can paint on your own agar 'canvas'!
This event was part of the American Society for Microbiology Agar Art contest, and all participants were invited to enter their microbial art for the chance to win a prize! To learn more, you can visit www.asm.org/agarart
Personal Genetics 101: Design Your Own Genetic Test
In this workshop, you’ll get hands-on experience designing and doing your own genetic test. We will discuss the past, present, and future of genetic testing and do a genetic test for the Per3 gene, investigating the relationship of this gene to a preference for morning versus evening activity (Early Bird vs. Night Owl) using PCR and gel electrophoresis. Then, we will use free online tools to design genetic analysis protocols for a trait you’re interested in exploring- along the way you’ll gain experience designing primers, investigating restriction enzymes, and assessing different types of variations associated with different traits.
The (GIF)t of Life: Engineering Proteins for Medicine, Art, and Our Planet
This course introduces the fundamentals of proteins and their role in health, disease, and the environment. In this two-day course, we’ll start by performing protein analysis experiments in the lab and discussing their use in everything from cancer research to architecture and art. You’ll then use specialized software to explore the beauty and versatility of protein crystal structures with a choose-your-own adventure protein docking experiment. By the end of the class, you’ll have made a protein docking movie and walk away with your own unique GIF. Whether you’re interested in applications to medicine, food, art, or the environment, this course will empower you with a new perspective- literally- by zooming in on these molecules with atomic precision.
Fruiting Bodies: Creative Experiments in Fungal Inoculation and Mycoremediation
In this workshop, participants will dive into the fascinating world of fungi with an introduction to mycology and creative experiments in reproducing mushrooms (cloning and inoculating) and using fungi to remediate damaged land (mycoremediation). Together, participants will create agar-based sculptures modeled from chosen body parts, inoculate the sculptures with fungi, and document the growth process. The following weekend, we will gather again to bury the fruiting bodies* in a local disturbed site in need of mycoremediation in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
intro to bioplastics
Join Genspace for a hands-on foray into the world of bioplastics- plastics made from renewable biomass sources. In this workshop, we will discuss the history, challenges, and future of plastic, and we will experiment with a variety of DIY bioplastic recipes. You will learn about the criteria people in industry use to measure the health and toxicity of their products, the initial processes used in the material sciences, and ways to get started in your own kitchen. Each participant will make a mold and go home with their own plastic item that is edible and will easily biodegrade.
Biomaterials Crash Course
Step into the fascinating world of biomaterials in this four-week course. Together we'll explore working with kombucha SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast), mycelium, slime mold, and bioluminescent bacteria and fungi. In addition to learning the practicalities of growing and caring for these microbe-based materials, we'll also discover their applications for art, design, textiles, sustainability and more. Prompts will be provided for specific projects, but each participant will also be free to develop their own concept to build on with each organism used throughout the course. Each person will go home with a variety of their own living creations!
Hormones gone haywire! diy testing for endocrine disrupting compounds
What EDCs (endocrine disrupting compounds) are in your food and water, how did they get there, and what are their effects?
In this workshop we will work with simple DIY tools to extract and identify EDCs using liquid samples from local waterways and the grocery store. We will construct a simple Solid Phase Extraction apparatus that will allow us to collect these estrogenic compounds from sample liquids and discuss the implications of our findings.
Biomimicry in the field: learning from nature’s genius
Ever wonder what makes a peacock’s feathers so vibrant? Or how ants can communicate along complex scent trails to find and distribute food? How do honeybees use swarm logic to regulate the internal hive temperature? And why do trees and other plants grow in a similar and repeating patterns?
These questions encompass the underlying inquiry and ethos of biomimicry, looking to nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies to help solve our human challenges. Join us for this interactive workshop where you will learn not about, but from nature with a new lens of discovery. First we will examine the fundamentals of biomimicry by looking at nature’s form, function and ecosystems and then we will head across the street to Green-Wood Cemetery for an immersive field experience.
Mushroom Walk in Green-Wood Cemetery
Genspace's Sunset Park lab is just across the street from Green-Wood Cemetery, a stunning park featuring skyline views of Manhattan and a favorite for the New York Mycological Society. Join us for an all-ages, family-friendly morning walk through the cemetery in search of mushroom specimens.
Let’s Get in Those Genes: Computing Genetic Ancestry
Have you ever wondered how commercial genetic testing companies calculate your ancestry? How can this information be useful for making medical decisions?
In this workshop we will dive into the basics of Population Genomics, which uses the large-scale comparison of DNA sequences of populations to understand evolution and demographics. We will learn how to use computational techniques to analyze genetic ancestry.
composing with smell: A Scent-imental Journey
In this workshop, we will explore the fascinating world of scent - its deep connection to human psyche and biology and its use in art, commerce and wellness. We will learn about scent families and the basic composition process used in perfumery and aromatherapy. Working with natural essential oils, you will create your own scent formulas and compositions to take home.
Designing with Mycelium
Are you interested in developing sustainable products with cutting edge biomaterials? Mycelium, the roots of fungi, are being used to produce environmentally-friendly versions of packing materials, furniture, leather, and meat. In this two-session workshop, you will learn how to grow mycelium design objects and how to produce your own mycelium material. You will learn everything you need to know to become a mycelial master and to incorporate the process into your own creative practice.
Mushroom Barcoding Workshop
Using fungal tissue samples from mushrooms gathered during the City Nature Challenge, we will overview and perform DNA extraction, isolation, amplification, verification, and sequencing. We will go over all the steps involved in extracting DNA from our fungal samples, and while our samples are running we will learn how to use bioinformatics to build phylogenetic trees from the samples that we've collected to contribute to online research platforms.
KOMBUCHA PAPERmaking: Grow your own paper
Kombucha—for centuries it’s been brewed as a tangy beverage made of tea and a symbiotic glob of bacteria and yeast known as SCOBY. In this bioart papermaking course you will explore a new way to utilize kombucha. It is not only a great source of probiotics—it can also grow a renewable art material!
dyeing and painting with nature: The chemistry of cochineal
Join Genspace for a hands-on exploration of natural colorants where we will focus on the tiny but powerfully-colorful cochineal bugs. We will look at the fascinating history of cochineal use and the chemistry behind transforming organic matter into usable color, learning about the relationship (and differences) between dyes and pigments, and how you can make them in the lab- or at home in your kitchen. Following 500-year-old recipes and using modern chemistry, we will learn three different methods for extracting the cochineal color. We will dye textiles and make pigments with bugs, and each participant will walk away with a tube of lab-made paint!
Backyard Biodiversity: iNaturalist and Biocubes for Citizen Science Studies
The Backyard Biodiversity Workshop will consist of two parts: learning how to use the free app iNaturalist, to make high-quality ecological observations of organisms you find in your favorite environment; and building your own Biocube, a fun, informative, and manageable way of exploring the biodiversity in the world around you by focusing on a cubic foot of space. By looking closely and documenting the life in a small area, you can get a better understanding of how different ecosystems are structured, how they function, and how they change.
How to run automated experiments with opentrons
Never used a liquid handling robot before, but tired of pipetting for up to an hour or more at a time? In this 6-hour class, you will learn how to set-up and run the Opentrons pipetting robot, write Python programming scripts for the robot, and share protocols with the worldwide Opentrons community.
Swabbing Cheek to Cheek: Inside Personal Genetic Testing for Romance
In this hands-on workshop, you’ll do your own genetic test for one of the commonly analyzed “love” genes, discuss the science and hype around this type of genetic testing, and consider the ethical and social issues of DNA-based matchmaking services.
intro to plant genetics: from genotype to phenotype
In this class we will use mustard plants to explore how changes in the sequence of DNA can lead to changes in proteins and physical characteristics. You will use DNA purification, polymerase chain reaction, DNA sequencing and bioinformatics to compare two plants with different genes and learn about how cells use the information in our genes to specify physical traits.
SLIME mold workshop
Draw with slime mold! In this workshop we will design the growth and shape of slime mold. Participants will learn about the biology of this fascinating organism and explore its use for BioArt. We will create a maze in a Petri dish and watch how the slime mold finds the most efficient path to food.
Bioinformatics: using r to find genes for disease
How do we find genes that have a true statistical significance and a biological relevance? This two day course will highlight methods of finding genes involved in a disease using statistical methods, visualizations, and biological networks. We will highlight how to use the free statistical package R on the first day and then work through a biological data set on the second day.
Coloring Textiles with Bugs: Old [Cochineal] and New [Bacteria]
In this hands-on workshop, you will learn both the history and the science of coloring textiles with organisms using historical techniques and new scientific developments. Explore the long tradition of dyeing cloth brilliant shades of red with cochineal insects. Then, discover new cutting-edge techniques of printing textiles with colorful microbes. We will delve into the world of sustainable natural dyes and create artful textile collages.
bioluminescence: Painting with glowing microbes
Introduce microbes to your creative practice! Learn to culture and paint with dinoflagellates and walk away with your own glowing masterpiece.
Learn about the theory and practice of using fungi to improve the quality of degraded environments in this mycoremediation workshop. The knowledge learned here can be applied to restoring degraded soil, breaking down chemical contaminants, filtering water pollutants, and more. Participants will leave the workshop with an understanding of the current state of knowledge of mycoremediation, tools to begin implementing their own mycoremediation experiments, guidance about promising future directions in the field, and much more!
Make Your Own Ghost Heart
Join Genspace for a two-day, hands-on tissue engineering workshop to create “ghost heart”. We will be using decellularization, a tissue engineering technique that strips all of the cells from a donor organ leaving behind nothing but a scaffold of connective tissue called a “ghost organ,” named for its pale and ghostly appearance. You will have a chance to handle a real heart and learn how it works!
Intro to Mycology
Fungi are the keystone species that interconnect every facet of life in our world. This class will highlight the supreme influence these ancient and often overlooked organisms have upon our health, society, and environment and also provide a succinct peek into the Fungal Queendom from the perspectives of ecology, anthropology, pharmacology, and bioremediation.
Solving Cases with genetic traces: a forensics and genomics workshop
While reading the first human genome cost $3 billion and took 13 years to complete in 2003, today, that same genome can now be genotyped for $99 and can be given as a Christmas present to connect to long-lost family members. The wide adoption of genomics is not without ethical challenges, tensions between scientific progress, individual privacy, and the potential for group-based discrimination. Join Dr. Sophie Zaaijer and Dr. Kadija Ferryman for a workshop exploring the promises, challenges, and perils as genomics becomes a part of everyday life.
RNA Evolution: From Primordial Life to Masterminds of Gene Expression
From dark matter of genomes to primordial life on earth, RNA is no longer the simple messenger to the genetic code. In this course, students will discover the vast and intricate world of RNA biology. Learn how to extract RNA from mouse organs and use reverse-transcriptase PCR to visualize how RNA can determine cellular diversity beyond the genetic blueprint.
Visual storytelling lab
In popular culture, science is often associated with long equations and technical diagrams. However, throughout history, illustration and storytelling have played a central role in the popularization of science and scientific progress itself.
Through a mix of drawing activities and laboratory experimentation, this workshop investigates the potential of comics as a format for science communication.
Biodesign: Grow Your Own Mycelium Lamp
Come explore mycelium with us as we learn about its many functions and characteristics, and find out how “nature’s glue” is being bio-utilized in many applications across industries as humans seek out more sustainable production processes. Get ready to get your hands dirty, literally, when we walk you through the process of growing your own lampshade using mycelium.
Plant adaptation to a changing climate
In this workshop, we will cover the basics of global climate change, how certain plants are able to acclimate or adapt to changing climates, and the plant traits that are becoming increasingly important to climate change adaptation. This class is a perfect introduction to anyone interested in climate change ecology, plant adaptation, or the link between genes and traits.
Programming with DNA in a test tube
In this workshop, you’ll take first steps in cell-free synthetic biology by designing and programming a sensing circuit with DNA, adding it to a a cell-free extract where it will be expressed as a visible protein, and measuring the results.
Biotextiles: Grow your own materials for fashion design
In this two-part introduction to biotextiles, you’ll learn how to grow fabrics from microbes and then use natural and bioengineered bacteria to dye them.
Protein World: Biology's Unsung Hero
DNA may get the all glory, but proteins are the workhorses of the body. Take a deep dive into the wonderfully intricate and dynamic world of proteins! Students will model protein structures as well as take part in a protein extraction.
2D DIY Bioprinting: Hacking Your Home Printer
Learn the basics of bioprinting in this hands on class. Participants will assemble and program an InkShield home printer with Arduino to print e.coli with a fluorescent protein.
DIYbio Incubator: Build Your Own Incubator
Participants will learn how to build a low-cost incubator including basic electronics and Arduino programming. We will also use our newly constructed DIY incubator to run an experiment.
Want to find out what bacteria are living around you? In this workshop we will learn the methods for identifying microbial species with DNA sequencing data, and understand what their functions are and how that can inform decisions or urban design.
BIOTECHNOLOGY THROUGH SCIENCE FICTION
Science fiction gives us an opportunity to speculate on how today’s technologies will reshape tomorrow. This course explores the potential social impacts of biotech through videos, film, art and literature.
Synthetic Biology: Learn to Program Life
In this workshop, you will learn the fundamentals of synthetic biology in a hands-on way. This workshop complements a panel discussion taking place at Data & Society on March 16th entitled Synthetic Biology—Programming with DNA.
FERMENTATION: Making kefir
Fermentation is one of the oldest food processing methods used today. Scientifically known as zymology, it is the conversion of carbohydrates into alcohols, carbon dioxide, using yeast, or bacteria. Learn to make kefir using milk and milk alternatives.
The Chemistry of Lotions and Creams: DIY Beauty Products
In this hands-on workshop, participants will learn about the chemistry behind the ingredients in lotions and creams, as well as the physical processes required to create these products.
family science lab
Anyone can be a researcher, no matter their age. Children (ages 6-12) and grown-up pairs will get hands on experience in a biotech lab, extracting their own DNA and exploring its molecular structure in our Family Science Laboratory.
Consumer Empowerment: What DNA Reveals About Your Food
What's in your food? Find out in this hands-on lab class. You will learn how to extract DNA from food using techniques such as DNA barcoding and PCR to determine if that goat cheese is really from goats, what’s really in a Filet-O-Fish, and if that granola you had for breakfast is really non-GMO.
Beer Brewing 101: Homebrewing Essentials
You will learn all the basics to get you up and running while brewing a batch of beer. You’ll learn about extract brewing, malts, grains, yeasts and how to avoid or troubleshoot the most common problems.
Plant Based Pigments: Dyeing with Indigo
In this hands-on class we will explore one of the most iconic natural dyes – Indigofera tinctoria, commonly known as indigo. Participants will learn how to create a fermented indigo vat, and walk away with their own hand dyed fabric samples.
In this course we will imagine speculative design outcomes using biotechnology. We will work hands-on in the lab to grow material samples and imagine how the materials might be used in the future. We’ll learn to use design as a medium for experimentation to stimulate critical discussion on the social and cultural implications of current and emerging biotechnologies.
In this class we will look at ecosystems, speculative design, and biotechnologies related to agriculture. Participants will design a projects that incorporate elements of contemporary technologies and centuries old practices of biodiversity and permaculture.
DNA origami consists in "knitting" shapes with DNA strands. In this class we will learn about the applications of this technology, and how to use CAD (computer-aided-design) programs to design DNA origami shapes on the nanoscale.
In this course, participants will measure neuron firing in cockroaches and crickets, conducting experiments with music and mind altering chemicals to see how neurons fire firsthand.
Local color: extracting pigment from plants
This hands-on class will examine local color- how to grow it, find it, and extract it. We will create natural dyes from food waste and locally foraged plants.
PRIVACY IN THE ERA OF PERSONAL GENOMICS
In less than a decade, the practice of genomics has become ubiquitous, and the data sets enormous. Its wide adoption comes barbed with ethical challenges, tensions between scientific progress and individual privacy, and a heritage based in racial discrimination.
Non-Toxic B/W Film Processing Using Coffee and Beer
Process your own film using beer and instant coffee crystals with MONO NO AWARE. In this one-day workshop, participants will be given all of the information necessary to mix their own negative processing chemistry using a combination of consumable items from the grocery store.
BIOART MASTER CLASS
In this three part bioart survey the lab is the new artist studio, and the petri dish the new canvas. Participants will break down barriers between biology, art, and design — exploring new ways to work with and grow microbes, slime mold and bioluminescent organisms as a part of the artist's creative practice.
Smell, taste, discuss and make a few simple seasonal ferments. In this workshop we’ll explore and craft two delicious types of vegetable ferments that are easily made at home without any special ingredients or equipment.
Fungi Fabrication: Mycelium Materials
In this course we will work with mycelium as material for experimental design applications. Working hands-on in the lab, participants will grow a variety of samples with mycelium ranging from biodegradable ‘styrofoams’ to leather-like textile alternatives.
SLime Mold workshop
Long classified as Fungi, slime "molds" are now known to be a creature all their own. In this 2 hour workshop participants will explore slime mold—how to grow it and how to use it for bioart.