Daniel Grushkin is co-founder and Executive Director of Genspace, and founder of the Biodesign Challenge. 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.
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.
Alison Irvine is the Program Manager of the Biodesign Challenge. She graduated from Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts with a degree in Theater and Interdisciplinary Science and studied political theater at The Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany. She received the Hunt Fellowship for her work as a theater artist creating performances that centered on the emergence of new biotechnologies and their implications in the context of social and economic inequities. She researches creative practices that engage the public with basic science and new technologies in ways that promote social reflection and ethical scientific conduct. Alison has also written articles on the intersection of art, science, and social justice for Imagine Science Films and The Center for Genetics and Society.
Veena Vijayakumar is the Program Associate of the Biodesign Challenge. She studied Art History and Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, then went on to receive an MA in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University. Veena has worked at museums such as The Exploratorium in San Francisco and the Museum of Modern Art in New York where she focused on audience development and public programming. Veena’s research, programs, and writing highlight the value of interdisciplinary instruction in informal education spaces, specifically its potential to make learning more rich and accessible to general, non-“expert” audiences.
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.
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.
Ali Schachtschneider is an artist and designer in New York City working at the intersection of fashion and biology. As an artist at Genspace, she explores fashion as an extension of the body by growing biomaterials and garments. Her work has been exhibited at SXStyle, Columbia University, Plaguespace, and Parsons School for Design. She has received awards from the Royal Society of the Arts and has spoken at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center and Manufacture New York. She is a graduate of Parsons, the New School for Design in New York.
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.
Executive Director, Genspace
CEO + Founder, flanagen
Vice President, OpenTrons
Jonathan Badal is the Vice President of OpenTrons. He is also the Director of Strategy and runs the finance team at comiXology. ComiXology is the largest retailer and mobile app platform for digital comic books and had a successful exit to Amazon in 2014. Prior to comiXology, Jonathan was an analyst at the early-stage VC, Rose Tech Ventures.
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.
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.
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.
STRATEGY & OPERATIONS, PONCHO SOLUTIONS
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.