Genspace is a community biology laboratory, sometimes called a biomaker lab or a biohacker space, in South Brooklyn, New York where anyone can learn the fundamental scientific concepts and lab skills they need to meaningfully engage with the life sciences — including biology, biotechnology, microbiology, genetics, and related subjects. Biomakers are scientists, artists, designers, and entrepreneurs, and in our lab they hack lab gear, create new sustainable biomaterials, and explore the ethical and social issues of emerging global technologies.
In this session, you'll get a tour of the Genspace lab, see objects, materials, and technology that Genspace members have made. We'll talk about the minimal gear you need to get started with basic biotechnology experiments, and the types of organisms that are easy-to-grow and safe to use in a wide range of settings.
What inspired you to make this project?:
We got our start in 2009, when a small collective of biology hobbyists, entrepreneurs, artists, and scientists gathered in a North Brooklyn living room. The group reflected on their shared interest in the emerging field of biotechnology, and dreamt up visions of what a more accessible, democratized biotechnology could look and feel like.
A year after that initial meeting, our community lab opened its doors to the public in Downtown Brooklyn. We invited community scientists, artists, engineers, designers, hackers, and quite frankly, anyone else who was interested, to deeply immerse themselves in the life sciences. Using hands-on exploration and experimentation as their guide, our early participants started million-dollar companies, created groundbreaking artwork, and competed in international contests.
Our opening had ripple effects around the nation, with a handful of similar community biology laboratories opening in California, Washington, Colorado, and Maryland shortly afterward. Over the last decade, more than a hundred community groups and labs have cropped up across the United States and around the world. While this global community thrives, we are thinking about what we can and should do to shape the future of this movement.
In 2019, under new leadership, we refocused our organizational mission, vision, and core values to center diversity, inclusivity, equity, and access in our work. We believe that all persons — whether they are a 16-year-old Brookylnite or an underemployed adult looking to switch careers — should be able to participate in the emerging bioeconomy. We believe that knowledge is power, and that it is our responsibility to make scientific information and skills accessible for all who want it.