SBPWG:Discussion/Bay Area Science Festival

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Bay Area Science Festival

General Information about the festival:

There are (at least) three main types of events we might consider:

  • A public forum/seminar (See 'wonder dialogues', we have a hold on the David Brower Center in Berkeley - 180 person capacity - for Nov 1st)
  • A hand-on carnival-style event with hands-on activities/demos (See 'Discovery Days' - a huge carnival being run at AT&T park on Nov 6th)
  • A science cafe - an informal discussion with a scientist at a bar/cafe (See the 'science pub crawl' being run on Nov 4th)

We might first explore a public forum event, as we have to act quickly on this if we'd like to keep the date/space. At the last working group meeting there was some ideas about how to make a forum more fun and interactive than a normal lecture format, such as making it into a 'game show'. (Megan Palmer)


June 1st: Teleconference Brainstorming Ideas for the Festival

Teleconference attendees:

  • Megan Palmer
  • Connie Lee
  • Mike Fisher
  • Danielle Ercek
  • Jay Vowles
Public Forum Event v1

Please edit below with suggested speakers, topics and formats. Don't worry about changing things on this page - we can always revert to previous versions! Please also LIST YOUR NAME ALONGSIDE CHANGES so it is easy to track changes

Format General

  • option 1: start with short presentations from ~6 (?) speakers introducing synthetic biology basics, applications, promises/myths, social/ethical dimensions etc , then break out into individual rooms for more intimate q&a with the speakers (Megan Palmer)
  • option 2: presentation from a dynamic speaker who gives the synthetic biology overview, and then audience members have their choice of sessions to attend (Synthetic Biology and Human Health, Syn-biologically Produced Chemicals, Synthetic Biology vs. Nature, etc.) Each session includes short talks from researchers aimed at a general audience with plenty of room for questions. Audience free to move from session to session. (Mike Fisher)

Format Option 1 v1 (Megan Palmer)

I'm organizing as individual speakers/topics, but this could we have fewer speakers each talking about a subset of these topics (especially for the intro). Please feel free to change topics/ordering etc and suggest speakers who might be appropriate

  • Speaker/Topic 1: Why do we want to engineer/build with biology?
  • Speaker/Topic 2: What types of things are we building now? What types of things do we hope to build?
  • Speaker/Topic 3: How do we go about building/engineering biology? Philosophies and approaches (Top-Down, Bottom-Up)
  • Speaker/Topic 4: Who is building? (Highlight labs, industry, iGEM, DIY community)
  • Speaker/Topic 5: What are some of the perceived risks, and how are we working to address them? (could couple a science writer with a scientist?)
  • Speaker/Topic 6: What are some of the next big challenges?
  • Speaker/Topic 7: How can YOU get involved, learn more etc? (i.e. So you wanna be a biological engineer??)

Possible Speakers

  • Drew Endy (Megan Palmer)
  • Jay Keasling (can't make it)
  • Andrew Hessell (Megan P)
  • Eri Gentry or others from Biocurious/DIY community (perhaps the folks from open PCR?)
  • Stephen del Cardayre, LS9 (Mike Fisher)
  • Wendell Lim, UCSF (Mike F)

Title/Framing Brainstorming

  • Synthetic Biology: a beginner's guide to building with biology (Megan Palmer)
  • Tomorrow's Biology, Today (Mike Fisher)


  • It would be ideal to videotape presentations and get copies of materials that could be shared widely (for example, via uploading onto the SynBERC website) (Megan Palmer)

Examples/Materials of Other 'Synthetic Biology 101' Resources, Presentations etc to learn from

Additional Brainstorming

  • We might also consider doing a video followed by discussion. For example, following a viewing of the synthetic biology documentary
  • Based on the excerpts, that is going to be a neat film! (Mike Fisher)

Other Possible Topics/Framings

  • Life as we don't know it (Megan Palmer)
  • Creating life: What can we do? What should we do? (Megan Palmer)
  • Science Speed Dating (from group call June 1st) - have people go between rooms with different scientists
  • Design your own microbe (Megan)
  • Moderated panel discussion between scientists, ethicists, news people, govt officials / FBI ? (Megan)
  • Mini iGEM Jamboree (Megan)


  • The iGEM world finals are Nov 5-7 at MIT so may conflict with some events