Makers’ Mark: White House Makerspace Meeting signals growing impact of DIY spaces

Washington, DC: The leadership of HiveBio joined with delegates from nearly 200 other makerspaces from across the country this week to take part in the Makerspace Organizers Meeting, a conference for DIY techies, scientists, and craftsmen held by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). For one day on August 24th, these makerspace organizers, including HiveBio’s CEO and Co-founder Bergen McMurray, listened to speakers, exchanged expertise and information, built networks of collaborators, and advance the standing of makerspaces within the U.S.

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The spirit of American innovation

The White House Makerspace Organizers Meeting follows a series of events and exhibits aiming to highlight the American entrepreneurial spirit as part of the Nation of Makers initiative. American have long held a reputation for resourceful invention in fields of science and technology. As early as the 1800s, Europeans envied advancements in farming techniques resulting from the famed “American mechanical genius.” Today, the White House seeks to reinvigorate this trait of adaptability and creation in the context of the modern world – using media like 3D printers, software, and biomolecules.

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Since its launch in 2014, the Nation of Makers initiative has explored a variety of forms to engage and grow the maker community. In 2014, the White House hosted the first annual Maker Faire – an event designed to showcase the diversity and achievement of American makers. Even the practice of presidential portraiture got an update as a result of the Nation of Makers initiative, as the Smithsonian dozens of hi-tech cameras to make a 3D-printed rendering of the President in ultra resolution (which you can check out here – it’s pretty cool).

Building a diverse network of makers

Sessions at the meeting focused on how to foster and promote a culture of do-it-yourself innovation in individuals and communities. Led by a Senior Advisor in the OSTP, Andrew Coy, discussions covered broad topics like intellectual property, increasing diversity and accessibility, and bringing citizen science into education, as well as the tedious but important fundamentals of running a successful makerspace, such as securing funding, fostering an atmosphere of innovation, marketing, and conflict resolution.

Morning presentations by White House officials included Julie Lenzer, Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Quincy Brown, Senior Policy Advisor, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Sanjay Koyani, Senior Advisor to the Chief Technology Officer, US Department of Health and Human Services, and Megan Smith, US Chief Technology Officer, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Among the highlights, Kari Love, representing the makerspace NYC Resistor, delivered a talk on the importance of diversity in the modern DIY movement. A broadway seamstress by trade, Love followed a circuitous path into science, transferring her skills from designing costumes to designing space suits. She now works in tandem with electrical engineers to develop soft robotics, and actively promotes the value of including people of diverse skills, personalities, and backgrounds into makerspaces to develop novel products and techniques.

HiveBio’s perspective

McMurray, the CEO and Cofounder of HiveBio, took away this from the event: the US goverment supports the Maker movement, and is interested in fostering the unique type of innovation that comes from maker collaboration. For

IMG_7942makerspaces like HiveBio, it seems clear the Obama administration is keen to learn more from the makers themselves on how to develop and grow makerspaces around the country.

Community bio labs were well-represented at the meeting – in addition to HiveBio, groups like BioCurious (Berkely, CA) and Counter Culture Labs (Oakland, CA) voiced the interest of the DIYbio community. Additional Seattle makerspaces Metrix and SoDo MakerSpace attended the meeting as well.

If you’d like to learn more about the Makerspace Organizers Meeting, videos of talks and sessions are available on the White House Youtube Channel. More information on the Nation of Makers initiative is available here.

Check out this article from Make Magazine about this exciting meeting of Makerspace Founders and White House officials: Makerspace Organizers Convene at the White House.

article by GM Showalter
contributions by Bergen McMurray

The Mystery of the Motor: Origin, Evolution, and Ecology of Bacterial Swimming

Swimming is a widespread strategy of many bacteria of vastly different lineages, and flagellar motility (swimming by means of a whip-like appendage) produces impressive results. Motile bacteria have distinct advantages over others in their environment – including antibiotic resistance, strategies against predation and viral lysis, and ability to respond to gradients. This comes at a metabolic cost, however, and is the reason behind a highly complex and step-dependent genetic assembly pathway. More intriguing – many bacteria have nearly identical and highly complex motors. How did such a complex machine come to be located in an otherwise simple organism? What secrets of evolution, ecology, and the origins of life can bacterial motility unlock?

Join us in a discussion of bacterial motility, with a focus on marine systems, led by UW graduate student Max Showalter as we talk about the mystery of the motor. Meet us at Ada’s Technical Books (425 15th Ave. E), this Wednesday, Dec 2nd at 7:30 PM.

Stemcell Vampires – HiveBio Discussion group

 

Blood is a morbid fascination of the human mind – a subject of interest from ancient lore of vampires to modern horror movies. But how does biotech reimagine this creepy theme?
Just in time for Halloween, HiveBio discussion group will explore the potential exploitation of human blood – a hypothetical world where vampiric scientists sell the blood of the young to keep the old from withering. We’ll talk about hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs – those that develop into all other blood cells), telomeres, and how science fits into the horror story. So come get spooked with us this Wednesday, Oct 21st at 730 PM as we discuss Stemcell Vampires at Ada’s Technical Books (425 15th Ave E on the Hill).

Modern Witch Doctors: at the intersection of old and new

On the stark, sterile counters of a modern biotech laboratory, the jungle heartbeat of freshly excised tawari negro tree offers a potential cure for cancer, a gift of the world’s pharmacy: the Amazon Jungle. Its use is the product of a centuries-old friendship between native peoples and the environment.

As in pharmaceutical development, a variety of fields in modern science increasingly take their cues from traditional knowledge, transforming themselves into a synthesis of old and new on the quest to solve man’s greatest problems. Health and healing, a universal human concern throughout space and time, has perhaps the greatest and most diverse pool of knowledge to draw from. But it is a quickly draining pool: as habitat destruction and Westernization invades the untouched corners of Earth, traditional knowledge slips away – and with it potentially live-saving cures.

On October 7th, Lisa Ma brings the latest research of diverse medical management systems from around the world, where strong beliefs in witch doctors, herbalists, and body healing is finding a space in the world of biotech. Join us at Ada’s Technical Books (425 15th Ave. E)  Wednesday, Oct 7th at 7:30 PM to discuss to the contribution of traditional knowledge in Western medicine.

Come see us at the Seattle Makerfaire!

Hey Seattle!

Don’t you wish you could get more DIY in your life? Don’t you lie awake at night, hoping to see HiveBio offer family-friendly citizen biology in the context of an exciting, fair-like atmosphere?

You’re in luck!

HiveBio will be hosting a booth at the upcoming Seattle Makerfaire, this Saturday and Sunday (Sept 19-20th), from 10 AM to 5 PM at the EMP Museum in Seattle Center. Among our activities will be our popular Strawberry DNA Extraction – a fun, hands on way for kids to see the very stuff that makes up life- and a presentation by HiveBio’s CEO and Co-found Bergen McMurray! To learn more about how to attend, visit the Seattle Makerfaire website.

In addition, our discussion group this Wednesday, Sept 16th at 7PM will be discussing DIY Bio and Maker Culture History, including an overview of all the exciting events that at the upcoming Fair.

So bring your curious minds to  join us at our Wednesday Discussion Group (Ada’s Technical Books 425 15th Ave E. in Capitol Hill), and then come get your hands wet at the Seattle Makerfaire this weekend!

 

Jurassic Park: distant fantasy, or upcoming reality?

Updated: This topic is scheduled for Wednesday, May 20th.

Could mankind one day revive a population of dinosaurs, using only some found DNA? This idea of bringing back the dinosaurs may be far from our current scientific capabilities, but the concept of de-extinction is wholly  scientifically feasible. In fact, we’ve already taken steps to accomplish it.

This Wednesday, HiveBio is talking about de-extinction: the methods of accomplishment, the potential ecological impacts, and the ethics of its use. Be part of the discussion: join us at Ada’s Technical Books this  Wednesday, May 20th at 7:30 PM.

You’d breader get ready for this Earth Day event!

This Earth Day, we’re celebrating one thing that makes Earth truly unique in our known universe (so far): the presence of metabolically active microbes! To do so, HiveBio and Ada’s offer you a brand new collaborative discussion session on the art of fermentation, including a recipe swap and instruction (with samples!) about baking sourdough bread.

So if you’re just loafing around in knead of plans this Earth Day, don’t wheat any longer! Roll your buns on down to Ada’s Technical Books (425 15th Ave E) on Wed, Apr 22nd at 7:30PM as we brioche the topic of how microbial life drives fermentative processes, which give the tangy flavor to sourdough bread. The discussion won’t cost you any dough (it’s free!), and is guaranteed to rise above your expectations!

Upcoming Workshop: DIY-SpikerBox for Neurobiology

What does a thought sound like, or a step, or the feeling of happiness? It might seem like science fiction, but at the upcoming HiveBio Hands-on Workshop, we can show you how to actually see  and hear the electrical impulses that drive all of our emotions and movements. Using a open-source bioamplifier developed by Backyard Brains known as SpikerBox, you will get to both see and hear the action potentials of living neurons while learning about neurobiology from Dr. Steve Potter, an associate professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Dr. Potter, who has immersed himself in the maker community, conducts research in neuroengineering, as well as speculates on the future of the field in his blog “NeuroEngineering in the Future.” His research interests encompass artificial intelligence, robotics, the study of consciousness, and self-organising dynamical systems. Check out his definition of neuroengineering and its fundamentally transformative impacts on society in his recent talk given at TedX Georgia Tech.

This workshop will be held April 26th from 1-4PM.

Register today by clicking here!

 

 

Fighting the resistance: Antibiotics in the modern world

Antimicrobial agents are the workhorse of modern medicine; diseases and infections once considered a death sentence are now routinely mitigated by antibacterial drugs and treatments on a daily basis. However, as their continued uses forces evolutionary pressure onto the targeted microbes, antibacterial agents are creating drug-resist pathogens at an estimated cost of 700,000 lives annually, and growing economic cost projected to total over $100 trillion by 2050 (O’Neill, et al., 2014).

How will biotechnology address this rising tide of antibiotic resistant bacteria and what new treatments and philosophies will we develop in our war against the microbes? Come discuss the current state and future of antibiotic resistance with HiveBio this Wednesday, April 15th at 7:30 PM in Ada’s Technical Books (425 15th Ave E).

 

Isn’t it about time you got your hands wet?

Itching for an opportunity to do some real, citizen science? HiveBio wants to give you that chance!

Join us at 7PM every other Wednesday (alternate to our discussion group and starting Wednesday, February 11th) at the HiveBio lab space to get involved in the Citizen Salmon and the Ministat projects. These meetings will be facilitated by Yasaman Sheri, Michal Galdzicki, and Katherine Baker.

To be added to the Google group for these projects, email hivebio.sci@gmail.com.