Ellen Jorgensen is at the leading edge of the do-it-yourself biotechnology movement, which brings scientific exploration and understanding to the masses.

Why you should listen

After many years of working as a molecular biologist in the biotechnology industry, Ellen Jorgensen needed a change. So, in 2009, bolstered by her belief in public science literacy, education, and outreach, together with TED Fellow Oliver Medvedik, she founded Genspace, the world’s first government-compliant DIY biotech lab.

Despite criticism that some research should be left to the experts, the Brooklyn-based lab continues to thrive. Amateur and professional scientists conduct award-winning research there on projects as diverse as identifying microbes that live in Earth’s atmosphere and (Jorgensen's own pet project) DNA-barcoding plants from Alaska, to distinguish between species that look alike but may not be closely related evolutionarily.

Video: Ellen Jorgensen takes us along on a trip to Alaska to bar-code plants >>  

Video: At Jorgensen's Genspace lab, artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg produces portraits from the DNA in a single hair >>

Video: At Genspace, Oliver Medvedik shows a cool experiment (you can do at home) with strawberry DNA >>

What others say

“Ellen Jorgensen is helping to democratize biology—making it less the purview of academics and Big Pharma and more an enterprise accessible to anyone who wants a hands-on scientific experience.” — Discover Magazine, October 2011

Ellen Jorgensen’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Ellen Jorgensen


Exclusive video: How to make a cocktail from strawberry DNA

December 20, 2013

DNA. It’s what encodes the genetic material of every living thing. And it also makes a yummy cocktail. This video, which stars TED Fellow synthetic biologist Oliver Medvedik, shows you how to make a delicious adult beverage out of frozen strawberries, pineapple juice and Bacardi 151. Follow the adorably animated instructions, and you’ll be able […]

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