Ellen Jorgensen

Biologist, community science advocate
Ellen Jorgensen is at the leading edge of the do-it-yourself biotechnology movement, bringing scientific exploration and understanding to the public.

Why you should listen

In 2009, after many years of working as a molecular biologist in the biotech industry, together with TED Fellow Oliver Medvedik, Jorgensen founded Genspace, a nonprofit community laboratory dedicated to promoting citizen science and access to biotechnology. Despite criticism that bioresearch should be left to the experts, the Brooklyn-based lab continues to thrive, providing educational outreach, cultural events and a platform for science innovation at the grassroots level. At the lab, amateur and professional scientists conduct award-winning research on projects as diverse as identifying microbes that live in Earth's atmosphere and (Jorgensen's own pet project) DNA-barcoding plants, to distinguish between species that look alike but may not be closely related evolutionarily. Fast Company magazine named Genspace one of the world's "Top 10 innovative companies in education."

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 talks

More news and ideas from Ellen Jorgensen

Live from TEDSummit 2016

Things we think we know: Notes from Session 2 of TEDSummit

June 28, 2016

In Session 2, our speakers debunked received wisdom, looked critically at common knowledge — and restarted conversations we thought were closed. Here, our report:  Antique lamps, new sound. Brothers Ryan and Hays Holladay opened Session 2 completely unseen. In near pitch-black darkness, broken antique lamps lit up one by one — each perfectly matched with an electronic musical […]

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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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