Monthly Archives: January 2013

Name Ideas

I’m currently entrenched in a mix of work and networking for the Hackerspace, but we are still beset with a terrible dilemma! What to call the lab! And I warn you, I just watched Les Miserables, and have been listening to the soundtrack. Constantly. So it’s a conscious effort not to include “Vive Le France!” in the name. But my cursory name ideas are as follows.

  • Plasmid Sound Labs (Like Puget Sound. No, don’t give me that look. I’m laughing)
  • BioInnovation
  • Hulk & More (Because of genetic engineering. You see me? Actually this was a very frustrating movie. The creators didn’t really understand how genetic engineering works. 1st, it doesn’t turn you green…)
  • BioCafe (Coffee because it’s Seattle? Yes I know I’m grasping at straws! This is from the girl who wanted to change her name to Sapphire and Moondew. Sadly yes; I read far too many Warrior books)

Ok, that’s all I’ve got. I’ll stop. Please help, give me some ideas!


Hackerspace Update – The circle begins

Not to keep up with stereotypes or anything, but I’m super excited to see The Hobbit. Long long ago, in a land far far away, when I believed I wanted to be an actress, I debuted in a camp production of The Hobbit at age 10. I wore white fuzzy socks for Hobbit feet. It was most excellent.Image

But um, away from my nerdi- I mean coolness, and back to bio! There is exciting news on the Hackerspace front. When I visited Genspace, the NYC Hackerspace, a couple of weeks ago, they put me in contact with someone who had expressed interest in starting a Seattle Hackerspace. Bergen McMurray works at the Allen Insitute and is part of the Hackerbot meetups in Seattle. I sent her an email and opened her reply with some trepidation. Had she already started, and I’d been out of the “popular bio group”, and so hadn’t heard? Had she failed, harangued by angry Bacteria rights activists? (This is Seattle after all). But no! She had already found a space to rent in South Seattle, and had started to gather lab materials and search out funding. 

Right now, we are in the difficult processes  of finding free-ish lab equipment and funding. I will keep you updated on the process, and mean while…

“Got Milk?!”Oops, wrong slogan. “We Need You!” There we go.


 We need a name for the Hackerspace. If you can remember back to high school science, you might recollect that scientists cannot name things. Look at Cummingtonite, a mineral named after Cummington, Massachusetts. Real original guys. Unfortunately, I am not blessed with naming prowess either. I named my two gray cats Foggy and Smoky (to be fair, I was nine.) Therefore, I need name suggestions for the lab. We want something interesting but so that you can tell that it’s about biology. Something in between “Seattle Hackerspace” and “Marigold Unicorn Space”. 

Au revoir,


Visit to Genspace


The Sterile Room at Genspace

I just returned from New York a couple of days ago. We got back at 12:30, though i wasn’t even sure we would get back that day. Due to extreme fog we were diverted to the Portland airport, where all the passengers, like middle school girls, huddled around whispering about what was to happen. When I heard in the telephone train that we weren’t going to get out until the next morning I almost needed resuscitation. My poor feet after 4 days of walking around New York could barely hold me up.

But back to the far more interesting matter of New York and visiting Genspace. If you don’t know about Genspace, it’s the first Biotech Hackerspace. It’s set up in a loft in Brooklyn. They run classes and offer lab space and advice, like most Hackerspaces, it started out in the corner of a different ex-Google run Hackerspace. Joseph Jackson from Biocurious and my friend Cindy Wu helped set up a meeting with Ellen Jorgensen, one of the PHD heads. Genspace is pretty small, taking up about 1/4 of the top floor of the loft. It has a computer room with a big table, then a sterile room closed off by glass for bacteria, and a workbench area


A look at Genspace. It ends after the book shelf. You can’t see the computer/ reading area from here. But the glass at the left is the Bacteria Room, and the benches to the right are work area.

Me and Ellen talked about Hackerspaces in General and she gave me some quality advice about starting and running one. She told me that a Hackerspace needs:

  1. Someone with Lab Experience to be there in operating hours (12-8 pm). Seems pretty obvious, but I actually hadn’t quite realized it. Generally good to make sure no one’s creating genetically engineered bunnies. Yes they could be benign Bunnicula like creatures (Please tell me you’ve read Bunnicula!), but in case they weren’t, I think death by bunny would be a bad way to go. I mean how pathetic would that be to have on your gravestone. You’d be known as the sucker that got beat up by a bunny rabbit forever.
  2. A person with authority who knows what they’re doing. 
  3. 1-2 people to devote all their time and coordinate with an expert. Because really, who needs a social life? I’m in the IB program in highs chool so social interaction just seems to foreign. I’ve come to the point where not having any work is stressful, because I must be forgetting something! So this part will work wonderfully for me.
  4. Someone to give and teach introductory classes. Anyone out there with biology experience looking for a karma boost or spare cash? The Holiday season tends to inspire both needs as we tell too cheery colleagues that “No, you can’t pull of that elf outfit” and mom’s candle turns out “to cost how much?!”.
  5. Create and atmosphere with support and fun social environment. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll have to do slightly more than advertising free pizza…
  6. Must have a Science Advisory Board to give opinions on tough questions. Like, “We probably shouldn’t let this girl genetically modify her boyfriend to want to watch less video games. Right?”
  7. The space must have non-absorbant floors for bacteria. hadn’t thought of that one, but good point. The neighbors would probably get unhappy if their ceilings started to glow. I mean, I would think it was great. But I’ve found not everyone shares my view of mixing synthetic biology and interior decorating.

She also highly recommend having Workshops to have funding. 

Seeing Genspace and meeting Ellen was really cool and definitely made me inspired about a Hackerspace in Seattle. I’m enclosing some pictures, so enjoy. And if anyone has lab equipment they don’t need. Well, post a comment and I’d be happy to pick it up!


Genspace work area


One shot of the Computer area


The other side of the computer reading area. This is the other boundary of Genspace