Andrew Hessel: Writing chromosomes with code

Autodesk Distinguished Researcher Andrew Hessel is a catalyst in biological technologies, helping industry, academics, and authorities better understand the changes happening in life science. Andrew is a key member of the Bio/Nano/Programmable Matter group at Autodesk Research. He is also the co-founder of the Pink Army Cooperative, the world’s first cooperative biotechnology company, which is aiming to make open source viral therapies for cancer.


Jessica Richman: Citizen Science

Jessica Richman

Jessica Richman is a co-founder of uBiome, which aims to make the human body searchable using the knowledge, effort and ideas of the public, as well as health data, to solve some of the world’s most important problems.

uBiome gathers data by sending participants kits which they can use to sample their microbiomes, and then engages with the public regarding their data. uBiome is changing the way that the world's scientific agenda is set, to be more democratic, decentralized and open to all.

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Christina Agapakis: Toe Cheese

Christina Agapakis

Christina Agapakis is a biologist who studies the relationships between humans and bacteria at many scales and through multiple disciplines.

Using synthetic biology, genomics, and art, Agapakis explores the evolution and design of microbial communities in the soil, in our bodies and in cheese. Christina has been listed in Forbes Magazine 30 Under 30: Science and Healthcare and her work has been featured in the Journal of Biological Engineering and Nature Chemical Biology, among others.

Her work shows us how art and design can have a valuable impact on the ways we engage with and practice science.

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Kelly Benoit-Bird on How Sea Creatures Make a Living

iPad illustration by Peter Durand

Associate Professor, College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University Kelly Benoit-Bird applies acoustics to the study of ecosystems in the open ocean. Kelly has helped develop several new optical and acoustical instruments and has made fundamental acoustical measurements of species ranging from zooplankton to fish, squid, and marine mammals. Benoit-Bird has been named a MacArthur Fellow, has received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and has published in Nature, Marine Biology and the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. Through her research into how predators target their prey, Benoit-Bird is creating a new understanding of key ecological processes in the ocean.

Kári Stefánsson: Decoding genetics

Kari Stefansson

Dr. Kári Stefánsson is recognized as a leading figure in human genetics who studies the fuzzy relationship between genetic mutations and environmental factors.

“Where is the line of distinction between nature and nurture? Where is the line of distinction between genes and environment? It really doesn’t exist.”

Joy Reidenberg: Weird Whale

Joy Reidenberg

Joy Reidenberg, a fast-talking, energetic anatomist captivated the PopTech audience with her talk, “Why Whales are Weird.”  With one amazing fact after the next (Whales evolved from deer-like creatures! Their spinal movement is more like galloping in the water! They don’t actually spout water! They have mustaches!), she took us through the story of evolution using whales as a model. She explained that evolution is the process to mediate resilience and thus, survival.

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