Welcome to Stemiverse Podcast episode 50.

In this episode, Dr. Peter Dalmaris and Marcus Schappi talk with Nurit Bar-Shai.

Nurit is an interdisciplinary artist who works at the intersection of art, science, and technology.

She is the co-founder of Genspace NYC, a community biotech lab in Brooklyn, NY, ranked by Fast Company among the top 10 most innovative education companies.

As an activist and educator working with biological systems, she conducts experiments through creative, collaborative inquiries and addresses the ethics and the emerging practices of Do-It-Yourself Biology and citizen-science.

As the Arts and Culture Program Director at Genspace, she developed content for educational, cultural and outreach programs creating solutions to bridge the Arts and Biological Science.

Her research and artistic practice look into microbial social networks and communication systems, collective collaboration, emergence, Soft-Genetic Modification, and BioMaterial fabrications.

Nurit developed collaborative STEAM projects including the NYC Biome Map.

She is a co-curator of the BioArt exhibition Cut/Paste/Grow, curator of the Genspace Pop-up Lab at Biofabricate, and has partnered with The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) for their Agar Art competition and the co-organizer of Nodes & Networks NYC.

Nurit is a contributor to the Leonardo ebook: Meta-Life: Biotechnologies, Synthetic Biology, ALife and the Arts.

Her work is featured in the book BioDesign: Nature, Science, Creativity published by The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Her artwork was commissioned by Turbulence.org, won a Prix Ars Electronica and included in the collection of the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art at Cornell University.

Nurit held residencies at Tel Aviv University, Microbiology lab of Professor Eshel Ben Jacob, who studied the social life of bacteria and at Epibone, a bioengineering NYC startup that grows bone tissue for skeletal reconstruction.

This is Stemiverse Podcast episode 50.


This podcast is brought to you by Tech Explorations, a leading provider of educational resources for Makers, STEM students, and teachers. Go to txplore.com to see a complete list of our books and courses covering the Arduino, Raspberry Pi and electronics.

Show Notes

[00:00] Introduction - Introducing Nurit Bar-Shai
[03:18] Greetings and The Wings Over Illawarra 2018
[04:36] Nurit's travels, her current stay in Israel and what activities bring her there
[05:47] Nurit talks about her background, how her journeys influenced her approach to learning, and how her childhood forest excursions with her father shaped her artistic work
[09:18] Nurit talks about her art, her studies at Bezalel Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Jerusalem, Israel, and at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
[09:52] Tom Igoe
[11:07] DIYbio and Genspace
[12:18] The early days of Genspace
[13:12] Safety issues in experiments
[14:55] A picture and an article about the Genspace story
[15:18] The Genspace makerspace vs. a traditional makerspace
[17:34] Why did the people of Genspace feel the need to create a new type of makerspace and what equipment did they start with and eventually acquired?
[18:31] A list of labs and meeting programs open to the public at diybio.org
[19:52] BioCurious - Silicon Valley's Hackerspace for Biotech and how Genspace is different from it
[21:43] Nurit's favorite projects that have come out of the biolab spaces: Opentrons & Heather Dewey-Hagborg's Stranger Visions
[24:17] The crossover between art and science and what scientists can learn from art
[27:57] Advice for people like Peter who feel challenged integrating art into what they do
[30:07] The primary objective is creativity
[30:41] Adding more letters to the STEM acronym: Does this turn STEM into regular education?
[32:53] STEM as a philosophy of education
[33:39] Teaching English through Animation and 3D printers
[35:42] Genspace Programs for Educators and Students and their objectives
[37:14] The DNA Barcode
[38:35] Biorocket Student Research in Molecular Biology
[39:22] Can we replicate Genspace in other parts of the world and what is the biggest obstacle in doing so?
[40:20] Rapid Fire Questions
[40:26] Who has been the most influential in shaping the way you teach?
[43:51] Nurit's favorite bacteria: Paenibacillus
[45:46] Nurit's reading recommendations:

[47:05] Parting thoughts, dos and don'ts
[48:24] Nurit's contact information and other resources: