Leadership Archives - Revolution Bioengineering

Category Archives: Leadership

09 Mar

The ladies moving Revolution Bio forward – International Women’s Day

As part of International Women’s Day, we wanted to introduce you to some of the incredible women working to bring together art and science in and creating a new space for conversation about biotechnology.

Each of these international women have brought a unique skill set that makes our color-changing flowers a truly vibrant, living work of art. The theme of International Women’s Day is #MakeItHappen – it takes all of us to effect change. We hope you’ll join us in supporting women working in science and art by contributing to our ongoing storey bio

Professor Helen Storey’s work champions a cultural hybrid model of art which brings together fashion and science. In 1997, she launched her seminal work detailing the first 1000 hours of human life, Primitive Streak. To date, the installation has been seen by over 5 million people in 7 countries.

Since then, Prof. Storey and her science collaborators have created five other world renowned arts/science projects. Shewas made a Royal Designer to Industry in 2014 by the Royal Society of Arts and her curiosity with the beauty and possibilities of science continues to inspire her work. The Living Dress will incorporate Revolution Bioengineering’s color changing flowers and illustrate how we can harness nature to re-connect us back to the impact humans have on our natural world and how the two seemingly unconnected worlds of fashion and science can enlighten and come together.

quattrocchio bio

Dr. Francesca Margherita Quattrocchio began her plant biology work in maize, moving to petunias to analyze the behavior of corn genetic elements when placed in a new context. In 1990, Quattrochio started her PhD project on regulatory genes controlling pigment biosynthesis in petunia petals. Soon after obtaining her PhD, her interests moved to the control of pH homeostasis in the vacuole: the cellular compartment where the pigments are stored. She revealed an entirely new mechanism by which plant cells hyper-acidify internal compartments and regulate ions traffic – Her discoveries are at the heart of our petunia flowers!

She studied Biology at the Sapienza University of Rome (Italy) and graduated in 1983. After a fellowship of the Italian National Research Council in Milan (Italy) to study the promoter structure and regulation of maize reserve protein genes, she obtained a short-term EMBO fellowship. Thereafter, she received a Marie Curie fellowship and joined the Genetics research group at VU University Amsterdam. This year she joins the University of Amsterdam.

Brian Bio

Jenny Dyck Brian received her PhD in Biology and Society from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she worked in the Center for Biology and Society and the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes. Her dissertation, which was supported by funding from the National Science Foundation and a PEO Scholars Award, investigated the role of bioethics committees within for-profit private sector bioscience companies. The project focuses on 3 case studies: the Ethics Advisory Board at Advanced Cell Technology, the Ethics and Public Policy Board at SmithKlineBeecham and the Bioethics Committee at Eli Lilly.

Prior to joining Barrett, The Honors College, she was an Assistant Professor of Bioethics at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh, where she taught bioethics and science policy courses to students from 12 different countries. At the AUW, she also worked with 9 student research assistants on projects focusing on organ selling and trafficking in South Asia, and the role of for-profit corporations in the development of synthetic biology, genetic testing and geo-engineering.

keira bio

Keira Havens grew up in Hawaii where she was fascinated by flowers, bugs, and the ocean. After receiving her Bachelor’s in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2004, she accepted a commission in the United States Air Force. She left active duty to pursue a degree in a synthetic biology laboratory and received her M.S. from Colorado State University in 2014.

As part of her academic work on detector plants she encountered an interesting paradox – the same people who disliked agricultural GMOs liked the idea of this applied biotechnology. It was biotechnology that they could see a benefit in, a biotechnology that amazed and delighted. Keira wanted to bring more wonder into the world through science, and so she founded Revolution Bioengineering with colleague Nikolai Braun. Their goal: to make biotechnology beautiful, starting with flowers that change color throughout the day.

Ladies, we are thrilled to be working with you & look forward to making some beautiful biotechnology. Let’s inspire the next generation of female scientists, artists, and thinkers!

25 Feb

I was a judge at Thought for Food

This is like no other conference you've ever been to.

The Thought For Food (TFF)Challenge is focused on a critical global and humanitarian issue—feeding our growing planet. Our worldwide population of 7 billion is projected to grow to 9.6 billion people by 2050. We will have to produce more food in the next 50 years than all the history of humanity combined—not just because there are more total mouths to feed, but because people moving into the middle class are clamoring for more protein and better diets. Current forecasts of productivity increases show that we will miss our mark.

The future of humanity is literally at stake. This is superhero territory

The TFF summit brought together some of the brightest young minds committed to solving the global problem of feeding 9.6 billion people by 2050. They asked me and five other people involved in business, science, economics, and technology to judge the finalists and pick winners from amongst the best of the best.

The best of the best like to dance.

The best of the best like to dance.

We heard 10 inspiring and impeccably polished pitches by the participating teams about how their innovation will help feed the world by 2050. Each group was energetic, sharp, and clearly communicated what their innovation was, how it fit into larger infrastructure, and how it would make a real difference in the lives of people all over the world.

We judges were a diverse group with different backgrounds and expertise, but I thought Sara Farley of GKI and Gavin Armstrong of Lucky Iron Fish were the clear MVPs of the judging panel. Sara knows developing countries, knows how they work, knows problems and opportunities, and asked really insightful questions of each team. Gavin, with a strong business background and experience growing a company in challenging marketplaces asked questions that got to the foundation of the teams’ business.

Up on stage with judge Sara Farley at the Thought for Food summit, sharing my thoughts on the teams - such incredible energy!  Photo credit: Miguel Quesada, Thought for Food

Up on stage with judge Sara Farley at the Thought for Food summit, sharing my thoughts on the teams – such incredible energy! Photo credit: Miguel Quesada, Thought for Food

The insights that Sarah and Gavin brought was instrumental for the panel in picking the best team for the win– not that it was easy. We ended up delaying the whole conference because it was so challenging for us to pick the first and second place amongst the 10 teams.

In the end, we picked two second places, and wished we could have picked more. The runners-up were FoPo , a company that takes food before the point of spoilage and freeze dries it, thereby conserving it’s nutritional value and essentially giving it a limitless shelflife, and Aahaar- a middleman-eliminating solution for farmers and markets to deliver refrigerated food faster to where it’s needed.

Here they are, the Grand Prize winner, Innovision, and runners up, Aahaar and FoPo. Click through to see all the teams!

Here they are, the Grand Prize winner, Innovision, and runners up, Aahaar and FoPo. Click through to see all the teams!

The grand prize went to Innovision, an elegant and affordable food storage technology that keeps food fresh longer. Their innovation tackled food waste between the farm and the consumer making agriculture more efficient in an area of the world that is needs it most. This team of bright students from the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh absolutely has what it takes to deliver this idea first to Bangladesh, and then the rest of the world.

I talked with several of the teams afterwards, and they all had a great outlook on their path forward – these people are going to solve problems, and they won’t let one missed win get in their way. The TFF Global Summit brought together existing players in the agriculture with the brilliant young people that will change the way we feed the world.

Keep your eyes on TFF and the teams involved past and present. That’s where the superheroes are going to come from.

Why was a group making color-changing flowers invited to talk at a food secuirty conference? Click to find out!

29 Jan

SynBio LEAP – building the future

SynBio LEAP: building the future of synthetic biology
SynBio LEAP: building the future of synthetic biology

SynBio LEAP: building the future of synthetic biology

I have been selected as one of 2015’s Synthetic Biology LEAP Fellows!

LEAP is designed to develop leaders from the ranks of communicators, scientists, ethicists, industry and do-it-yourselfers invested in the promise, potential, and impact of synthetic biology. I’m pleased to see folks I know as fellow LEAP Fellows—people like Mike Koeris from Sample 6, who is focusing on how to make the future safer, Camille Delebeque from SynBio Consulting, who thinks deeply about complicated questions of policy and science, and Edward Perello who is working to integrate the computer and the wetlab.

I’m also excited to meet those synthetic biology people that I haven’t yet connected with. Scientists like Nicola Patron for example, who in addition to her research has made a brilliant kit for plant transformation via Addgene. Scientist Lalitha Sundaram, who has a passion for biosensors and how it can impact the most poorly served communities. Using biotechnology to improve life across the globe is a passion she shares with Bill Gates, who focuses on agricultural biotechnology in his latest letter.

Crop Life Graphic

The world in plants. Click to visit Crop Life’s Biotech Plant Development page for an exceptionally well done description of plant biotechnology

Another Fellow, Cameron Keys, has spent years focusing on the impact of collaboration between social and natural scientists. I’m fascinated to hear what he’s learned about the way this partnership both shapes the actual scientific experiments and the way we share them. After the January NAS interface conference on communicating complex technologies like GMOs, I think we need as much of this collaboration as we can get.

thefuture Meet all the 2015 SynBio LEAP fellows! They’ve all got amazing stories.

While I can’t list everyone here, I encourage you to take to learn more about the 2015 SynBio LEAP Fellows. The participants are more than just our jobs or our research. We are interested in the impact of synthetic biology, both as a tool that can begin to be of use now, and more importantly, a tool that can allow us to develop a society that is quite literally sustainable – one where we grow the things we need for the quality of life we want. LEAP fellows are working towards a world where that is possible, and that means both building scientific tools and building a strong ethical foundation for the future.

So what is my vision? I see a beautiful future. Biotechnology is more than a lofty intellectual concept, it is more than a grand plan for some distant future, and it is certainly not limited to large companies with massive corporate empires. Biotechnology can be beautiful. I’m really pleased to be able to bring my vision to LEAP next week & work on building a more beautiful future with these incredible people!