Citizen Science Quarterly and Open Science Summit (ep5)

What is open science? What is citizen science? In episode 5, we explore these questions along with our guests, Jacob Shiach, Editor of Citizen Science Quarterly, and Joseph Jackson, Curator of Open Science Summit. Check out these “networked science” superheroes in the latest episode!


This weekend, open science advocates from around the world gathered for the 2nd annual Open Science Summit at the iconic Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA (home of Google, 23andMe, and the garage biotech lab that inspired BioCurious).

We were able to steal away the Summit’s creator, Joseph Jackson, for long enough to hear his motivation for doing the Summit and why Open Science matters. At the end of the summit (and at the end of the podcast), he announced his next, big thing: the launch of

Also in town for the Summit was Jacob Shiach, whose life changed during the first Open Science Summit. His first science conference, the Summit gave him access to scientists, artists, and entrepreneurs – all passionate about the notion of open, connected science. This experience led him to create Citizen Science Quarterly, the first print magazine for the movement. Jacob also started the Arc Research Collaborative, a community biolab in Houston, TX, where he teaches classes on bioinformatics and molecular techniques, and dreams up his next big projects, including a think tank.

We leave you with Garage Bio’s new favorite book, Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science, by Michael Nielson. According to the author, “The book is about networked science: the use of online tools to transform the way science is done….networked science has the potential to dramatically speed up the rate of scientific discovery, not just in one field, but across all of science. Furthermore, it won’t just speed up discovery, but will actually amplify our collective intelligence, expanding the range of scientific problems which can be attacked at all.” What a beautiful thought. Be sure to check it out and let us know what you think of it, and the podcast, by writing

Thanks for listening.






TEDxVictoria feedback


Sorry for the long delay between posts! Both Eri and I have been busy traveling. We recorded some great interviews at the Open Science Summit last weekend, though, and will be getting a new episode on citizen science posted sometime towards the end of the week.

In the meantime, if anyone would like to give me feedback on my upcoming TEDxVictoria talk on biohackerspaces I’d love it! You can watch a dry run at



Bacterial Transformations

Hi, I have a solo podcast for you today. Won’t do this very often, but Eri is off at SynBERC this weekend and I didn’t have an interview lined up. We’re trying really hard to keep podcasts going up at least every other week. It was a good opportunity to talk in more detail about bacterial transformation. This is kind of the hello world of synthetic biology, so it’s important to understand in detail.

I also wanted to get ideas on a TEDxVictoria talk that I’m trying to put together to explain to a lay audience just why it is that I’m so excited about getting biology out into the hackerspaces. I’d love to hear any comments you might have – examples to include, etc. Please send feedback to

(I’m also still trying hard to work on show audio. I think I over-processed today’s audio because the low-bitrate mp3 sounds horrible to me. Here it is if the higher quality one is too much to download, though:

my writeup on the transformation class
Richard Resnick’s great talk on genomic data
some higher efficiency chemical transformation techniques
The Bio-Rad CaCl protocol
The recent DIY Bio transformation thread
Finally, I fumbled around a bit on the ampicillin mechanism discussion, here’s a better description

OpenPCR and GeneLaser

This was a really fun podcast to record. Eri and I went out on a sailboat trip on SF bay with Tito Jankowski, the founder of Pearl Biotech and co-founder of OpenPCR. Josh Perfetto, co-founder of OpenPCR and Cofactor Bio sailed the boat. And we chatted with Mac Cowell, founder of DIYBio and co-founder of Cofactor Bio.

Sorry if the boat noises in the background are distracting! We should be going to more traditional interviews now that I’m back in Canada and Eri and I are doing this remotely over Skype. We also have a new mic for local interviews now.

Thanks a lot to Josh for inviting us all along on his sailing adventure! He’s taking classes at the OCSC sailing school out of the Berkeley marina and we got to take out an awesome Beneteau 373. Enjoy!

As always, please send comments to

GeneLaser (a product of Cofactor Bio)
OCSC Sailing School

Ethics of genetic testing

Here in episode 2, Eri and Derek speak with Raymond McCauley. Raymond is the head of the biotech track at Singularity University. He and Derek ran a potentially controversial series of classes this summer. Derek also had the chance to speak with Misha Angrist, the author of Here is a Human Being and one of the earliest members of the Personal Genome Project. Everyone has a right to their own genome!

(oh, and a mistake in the podcast… Mac Cowell was still in Boston when we recorded the interview with Misha, but he’s now in SF! West coast wins again :-) BTW. sorry about all the background noise in the second half, I’m still working on audio and it will get better!)

BioCurious website
Singularity University
Here is a Human Being
Berkeley’s Bring your DNA to school controversy
Exposing the student body
Stanford’s genomics course
CoFactor Bio
Open PCR