Cool Highlights

Greetings from Seattle, WA! This is currently DAY 35 of our filming journey, and 25 interviews and 7,500 miles later, we're finally about to conquer the West Coast. From Pittsburgh, we've travelled to Chicago, Lansing, Buffalo, Woodstock, Boston, Providence, New York City, Baltimore, Norfolk, Durham, Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, Dallas, Amarillo, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Logan, British Columbia, and finally Seattle. Although every day, interview, location, MOMENT has been so very memorable to us, we've constructed some highlights to summarize our trip so far.


Joe Davis, artist (Cambridge, MA)

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Believe it or not, we lived in Davis' workshop for the five days when we were in Boston/Cambridge. Calling him an artist simply isn't sufficient -- he is also an amazing scientist. Looking at all the footage gathered from his lab at MIT, his cosmic chamber demo, and his pond water sampling at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, we could probably do an entire episode on just Joe Davis. We have never met anyone so curious about the world on both the micro and the macro, the distant and the intimate, and so determined to find answers. 

 

Adam Zaretsky, artist (Woodstock, NY)

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By far, the most unique perspective on biotechnology. Zaretsky is possibly best known for tattooing foreign DNA and usually too quickly labelled as sadistic or crazy. However, his work and philosophies are extremely thoughtful, and question the basest of human desires that are reflected in our pursuit of biology. What does it mean to father new transgenic organisms? Are eugenic ideals reflected in our biotechnologies? Does messing with the environment cause just as much damage as doing nothing at all?

 

Jason Bobe, cofounder of DIYBio (Boston, MA)

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Jason Bobe took us back to the original origin story of how DIYBio was coined and founded. Like many community biolabs, the conversation began at a local bar. Bobe and Mac Cowell shared very similar interests in the democratization of biology, and thought founding DIYBio as an organization would jumpstart a meeting of minds for massive innovation, similar to that of the big tech movement. Bobe's interview gives us insight on the initial goals of DIYBio, how the term has evolved, and its potential for the future.

 

Brightwork CoResearch (Houston, TX)

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Jacob Shiach has an incredible and endearing story of how he founded the co-research space, Brightwork. In his interview, he makes the careful distinction between "community biolab" and "co-research space," hoping Brightwork will elevate the term "Amateur Biologist" and give a greater degree of professionalism in the DIYBio world. He says, "If amateur biologists are creating just as promising research as biologists, then why are they still called amateurs?" Located right next to Rice University, Brightwork will be up and operating in the next couple of weeks, so be sure to check out its new and beautiful facility.

 

Randy Lewis, spider-silk goats (Logan, UT)

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At the Randy Lewis Lab, his team of undergrads and grads develop new and interesting ways of harvesting spider silk, a material that is stronger than steel. Although he has been most successful with breeding transgenic goats that contain the spider silk gene and produce the proteins in their milk, his lab have also tried producing spider silk proteins in E. coli, silk worms, and alfalfa. If you're in Pittsburgh, you can find one of the transgenic goats, Freckles, taxidermied and on display at the Center for PostNatural Studio.

 

Biospace at Victoria's Makerspace (Victoria, B.C.)

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Derek Jacoby, the founder of Victoria's Makerspace and subsequent Biospace, will truly make you a believer in DIYBio. Recently re-locating the Maker/Biospace to University of Victoria's TechPark, Jacoby is more than excited to see the potential cross-pollination between manufacturers in Makerspace, students at UVict, and the tinkerers in the biolab. Current collaborator Noah Most, who is visiting Biospace on The Watson Fellowship to study DIYBio, is developing a lecture on DNA Origami, a method of using DNA not as code, but as a material. Like Brightwork, Biospace will soon be open for operation.