Michael j. Flanagan, phd

Executive DirectoR

Michael J. Flanagan is the Executive Director of Genspace.  He has a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Caltech and has spent more than two decades working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Bell Labs, and entrepreneurial companies including Arieso (CTO) and FlanaGen LLC (Founder and CEO). Dr. Flanagan has been a member of Genspace since 2014, an instructor since 2016, and a Board member since 2017.  In addition to leading a Genspace Community Lab team and serving as a judge at iGEM and Biodesign Challenge competitions, his synthetic biology interests include biomaterials, DNA synthesis/assembly and optogenetic control systems.  When he is not working in Brooklyn, Mike is either at home in Chester NJ or trying to return to London.

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Angela Armendariz, PhD

Biosafety Fellow

Angela was most recently the Living Systems Facility Manager at the Exploratorium, a museum of science, art, and perception, in San Francisco.  She managed the laboratory facility from 2011 until early 2018 when she moved to NYC.  Previously, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Children’s Hospital of Oakland Research Institute.  She has over ten years of research experience in molecular biology laboratories, and has a Ph.D. in molecular and biochemical nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley. 


Will Shindel

Lab manager

Will Shindel is the Laboratory Manager at Genspace and also provides scientific mentoring to our members. He studied Biology at Arcadia University, where he investigated the role of insulator elements in genome organization. After graduating, he spent several years working in the pharmaceutical industry.  It was during this time that he discovered DIY biology and first came to Genspace. In addition to being Laboratory Manager, Will also teaches the course Genome Editing with CRISPR Cas-9 and is working on creating a spicy tomato by engineering in the capsaicin pathway genes.


Rachel haberstroh

community manager

Rachel Haberstroh is a multidisciplinary artist and educator with experience programming at nonprofits across the spectrum of the arts and sciences. Prior to working at Genspace, Haberstroh was the Education and Public Programs Associate at Pioneer Works. Haberstroh organizes the learning collective Millennial Focus Group, active since 2015, and has exhibited with the Flux Factory, Wassaic Project, Small Editions, Babycastles, the Knockdown Center, and others. Haberstroh is a 2018 Cuts and Burns Resident at Outpost Artist Resources and a graduate of Brown University.


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Leticia Cartier Oxley is the Program Associate at Genspace. A recent graduate from the MA Design Studies program at Parsons School of Design with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Literature from Regis University, Leticia’s work situates itself at the intersection of design theory and praxis. With a focus on Speculative Design, Leticia was part of the Designed Realities Lab led by professors Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby, which uses design as a catalyst for interdisciplinary discourse and imagining. Her work suggests that design can be used as a method of inquiry and imagination can be a political force within society. 


David Chuchuca

Science Communication Ambassador

David Chuchuca is the Science Communication Ambassador of Genspace. A microbiology graduate student turned photographer, David hopes to better connect scientists and their institutions with the general population through engaging visual narratives. He received his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Binghamton University and continued into graduate school to investigate microbial biofilms. After two years conducting laboratory research into biofilm dispersion, David left the lab bench to highlight the journeys and accomplishments of the scientists in our communities. He works to bridge the jargon and the slang, connect the enthusiasts with the scientists, and begin conversations between the learned and the layman.



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Michael J. Flanagan, phd

Michael J. Flanagan has a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Caltech and has spent more than two decades working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Bell Labs ,and entrepreneurial companies (including Arieso where he was CTO, and FlanaGen LLC where he is Founder and CEO). Dr. Flanagan has been a member of Genspace since 2014 and his synthetic biology projects include those relating to biomaterials, optogenetic control systems, bacterial photography and iGEM.  When he is not working in Brooklyn, Mike is either at home in Chester NJ or trying to return to London.

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Nikki Romanello

Nikki Romanello received her BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture and a Concentration in Photography at Maryland Institute of College of Art. She graduated with an MFA in Studio Art, majoring in Sculpture from the Pratt Institute. She has worked at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Harris Rubin, New Arts Foundry, and the University of Maryland Iron Pour. She participated at the artist residency at Hot Wood Art Center and had a solo Bio Art show at the University Science Center in Philadelphia. Currently, she is exhibiting bioart, working as a TIG welder for Token NYC, and teaching at Brooklyn Brainery and Genspace.

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Julie Wolf

Julie Wolf spent her research career focused on medical mycology and infectious disease, studying fungi that make you sick and the genes they need to do so. Broadly interested in microbiology and scientific communication, she has mentored the Genspace iGEM team since 2012 and taught the Biotech Crash Course since 2011. She currently works as the Social Media Specialist for the American Society for Microbiology. Follow her on Twitter for more science highlights at @JulieMarieWolf.


Our Board

Jonathan Badal, Chair

CEO, OpenTrons

Jon is the CEO of Opentrons, leading business operations and growth. Previously, Jon worked at Amazon as the Director of Strategy at comiXology (exited to Amazon in 2014). As an early employee at comiXology, he helped the company become the leading platform for discovering, buying, and reading digital comic books and #1 Top Grossing non-game iPad app. Prior to comiXology, Jon was an analyst at early-stage VC, Rose Tech Ventures, and graduated from Columbia Unversity as a History major.


Michael J. flanagan, phd

Founder and ceo, flanagen, Executive director, Genspace


Nurit Bar-Shai

co-founder, Genspace

Nurit Bar-Shai is the co-founder of Genspace and an interdisciplinary artist who works at the intersection of art, science and technology. As an activist and educator working with biological systems, she addresses the ethics and the emerging practices of DIYbiology and citizen-science. As the Art and Cultural Director at Genspace (2010-2016) she developed content for educational, cultural and outreach programs creating solutions to bridge art and science. Her research and artistic practice looks into microbial social networks and communication systems, collective collaboration, emergence, Soft-Genetic Modification and BioMaterial fabrication. Her telematic work was commissioned by Turbulence.org, and won a Prix Ars Electronica. Her work is featured in the MoMA book, BioDesign: Nature + Science + Creativity.


Kathy High

Professor, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Kathy High is an interdisciplinary artist working in the areas of technology, science, speculative fiction and art. She produces videos and installations posing queer and feminist inquiries into areas of medicine/bio-science, and animal/interspecies collaborations. She hosts bio/ecology+art workshops and is creating an urban nature center in North Troy (NATURE Lab) with media organization The Sanctuary for Independent Media. High is Professor of Video and New Media in the Department of Arts, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. She teaches documentary and experimental digital video production, history and theory, as well as biological arts.


Thomas Knight

Founder, Ginkgo Bioworks

Tom Knight spent most of his career in computer science and electrical engineering  at MIT, before playing a major role in creating the field of synthetic biology. In 1996 he seeded interest in the field at DARPA, and built a molecular biology laboratory in the MIT computer science department. He developed standards for engineering biological systems, such as the Biobrick standard, first distributed in 2002. He was one of the founders of the IGEM competition, and remains on its board. In 2008, he co-founded Gingko Bioworks, where he now remains a full time researcher. His interests include minimal organisms, origins of life, and predictive models of biological systems.


Mark Merrill


Mark is a co-founder of Poncho Solutions LLC.  He is a member of the founding group of Agilis Biotherapeutics, Inc., a biotechnology company advancing innovative DNA therapeutics for rare genetic diseases that affect the central nervous system (CNS).  Mark was previously a managing director at Griffin Securities, Inc., where he specialized in identifying and analyzing emerging science & technology and facilitating its translatability to commercial value with a focus on biotechnology and synthetic biology.  He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder and holds a BA in Economics, with Distinction, from Carleton College.

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Daniel Grushkin

Founder and Executive Director, Biodesign Challenge, Co-founder, Genspace

Daniel Grushkin is founder and Executive Director of Biodesign Challenge, and co-founder/former Executive Director of Genspace.  He has been a Fellow at Data & Society, a research institute focused on the social and cultural issues arising from data-centric technological development, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where he researched synthetic biology, and an Emerging Leader in Biosecurity at the Johns Hopkins Center of Health Security. As a journalist, he has reported on the intersection of biotechnology, culture, and business for publications including Bloomberg Businessweek, Fast Company, Scientific American, Nature Biotech, and Popular Science.