Dr. Ellen Jorgensen is a molecular biologist and a passionate advocate of citizen science. Her research interests have encompassed such diverse areas as free radicals in disease, DNA fingerprinting, virus protein structure/function relationships, and cancer biomarkers. She grew up in New York City and attended both Columbia University and New York University.
During her 30-year career Ellen has held a variety of R&D positions in the biotechnology industry. In 2009 she turned her back on the for-profit world and co-founded Genspace NYC, the world’s first community biotechnology laboratory. Genspaee’s mission is to promote science literacy and demystify the latest advances in biotechnology and synthetic biology though education, outreach, and engaging the general public in a hands-on manner. Its unique concept of a stand-alone lab, not connected with a university or corporation, results in vibrant cross-disciplinary projects not possible in traditional spaces.
In 2011, Genspace’s groundbreaking programs communicating synthetic biology and biotechnology to non-scientists were awarded the prize for Best Social Study in Synthetic Biology at SB 5.0, the leading international synthetic biology conference. For the past two summers, Genspace has mentored teams of local undergraduates in the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition. Ellen has spearheaded many of Genspace’s outreach programs such as the collaborative effort between Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Genspace to host the Urban Barcode Project where high school students use of DNA-based species identification technologies. She has served as Genspace’s president for the past two years, and her efforts to develop Genspace into a haven for entrepreneurship, innovation and citizen science have been chronicled in Nature Medicine, Science, BBC News, Discover Magazine, PBS News Hour, the science section of the New York Times, and a presentation at TEDGlobal 2012.