SoundBio is committed to building a strong DIY - makerspace community in the Puget Sound region. Whether someone is a member, a volunteer, highschool iGEMer, or a one-time visitor, we thought it would be fun to share a few of their unique stories, exploring how they have benefited from, but also given back to our growing community. This page will be continually updated as we talk to more people impacted by SoundBio Lab.
Dr. Sean Sleight
After finishing his PhD in microbiology and molecular genetics at Michigan State, Dr. Sean Sleight moved to Seattle to pursue a post-doc in Dr. Sauro’s lab at the University of Washington, Dept. of BioEngineering. During his post-doc, Dr. Sleight work on a variety of projects in the field of synthetic biology. This work led him to a local cyanobacterial biofuels & specialty chemical company called Matrix Genetics where he was a manager in their synthetic biology group.
While at this company, Sean was an avid hobbyist, beer homebrewer, so when the company folded, he decided to turn his hobby into a business. After talking to SoundBio co-founder Dr. Mike Galdzicki, Sean realized that he could start a beer analytics business using the equipment and resources available at the lab. It was the perfect way to combine his passion for brewing with his lab expertise in genetic engineering. Even though there was a lot of uncertainty around the business model at the time, Sean was able to take time to assess the market because he didn’t have huge upfront costs.
With support from the SoundBio community, Sean took the plunge and developed a variety of products and services for the local beer industry in Puget Sound, ranging from services such as contamination testing and yeast health (viability, vitality & fermentation monitoring) to products such as yeast pitches and agar plates. Sean also helped to train several SoundBio interns who expressed interested in his project - his way of giving back to our community. To learn more about Sean’s fascinating story, read our blog post, a one-on-one interview with Dr. Sleight.
Mary Elizabeth Adler
Mary Elizabeth is currently a freshman at Princeton University and is actively pursuing a degree in chemical and biological engineering. Mary Elizabeth first became interested in molecular biology while in middle school, where she met an extraordinary science teacher who introduced her to genetics. This was a pivotal and influential moment, which soon led her to take as many biology classes as possible in high school. The problem was that by the time Mary Elizabeth was a junior, she had taken all the biology classes available, and it was a favorite subject. While talking to a guidance counselor, she learned of a new iGEM team forming - led by Roya Amini-Aaieni. At the time, SoundBio Lab had just agreed to host this new high school science team.
Mary Elizabeth quickly got involved even though she had no prior lab experience. She was very excited to finally have access to a real lab! She said, “I got to do the things I had been reading about, things like transforming bacteria and designing plasmids.” When asked about her time at SoundBio, Mary Elizabeth stated:
Mary Elizabeth said that having a hands-on learning opportunity while in high school, gave her something concrete to focus on regarding her future academic pursuits. It was also a very important part of her college application process because she was able to discuss what she was actually doing, rather than simply stating ‘this is what I want to do’. Mary Elizabeth admitted that many of her initial experiments failed, but she learned a lot through the process so never felt discouraged - it was always viewed as a learning opportunity.
From a community point of view, Mary Elizabeth foraged new friendships, and felt very warmly received. She appreciated that SoundBio was able to provide both technical expertise, and a positive, welcoming environment, which is not always easy to find in a big city like Seattle. She strongly believes that a non-profit like SoundBio fills an important gap in hands-on learning. “I love that SoundBio gives kids, who maybe don’t have professors for parents, access to the tools they need to pursue science”. We couldn’t agree more!
At 9 years old, Theo is our youngest Tinkerer member at SoundBio. He happens to love all things science, and because both of his parents are heavily involved in the SoundBio community, it’s no surprise that Theo has ended up participating in a wide variety of events. He also helped test some activities to see if they were engaging enough for other Junior Scientists.
When in the lab, Theo learned about the importance of safety, and was always under direct supervision of one of his parents, who are both trained scientists. Here are a few of the fun activities Theo has participated in:
Private lab tour, ending in fruit DNA extraction
Dogfish shark dissection workshop
Candy electrophoeresis workshop
With help from his father, he took some great pictures of protazoa using SoundBio’s new Compound Microscope
Theo attended our Sign-Making Party for Seattle’s Science March and was even featured in a Crosscut article about the event.
When we asked his mother about SoundBio’s impact on Theo, here’s what she said…
SoundBio offers an extraordinary opportunity for hands-on science exposure in a safe and supportive environment. There is simply nothing else like it in the greater Seattle region. Because Theo is young, it is hard to know exactly how much exposing Theo to a real lab, with real equipment will impact his future. Over the past few years, however, it’s clear that his love of science has only grown. I’ve heard Theo reference the shark dissection workshop several times, and I think that workshop in particular, really impacted him. He asked for a frog dissection kit for Christmas this year, and I”m certain that request never would have materialized without SoundBio. When he grows up, Theo says he wants to “make products from plants - things like food, medicine and oil - all from plants”, so we may need to get him involved in SoundBio’s plant TOP project soon.
After talking with Theo about his favorite workshop, he said: