PopTech Blog

Slash series: Andrew Hessel, bio/tech

With PopTech: Hybrid just a few months away, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. Take a peek inside the minds of this "slash generation" and sign up to be part of the Hybrid this Oct 22-24 in Camden, Maine.

Speaker: Autodesk Distinguished Researcher Andrew Hessel is a catalyst in biological technologies, helping industry, academics, and authorities better understand the changes happening in life science. He is also the co-founder of the Pink Army Cooperative, the world’s first cooperative biotechnology company, which is aiming to make open source viral therapies for cancer. 

What's one thing you want the PopTech audience to know about you that's not in your bio?
My wife and I are obsessive compulsive. We see this as a feature not a bug. There is no "D" after OC.

What does hybrid mean to you from the perspective of your work?
In biology, hybrids are the offspring resulting from cross-breeding. With digital biology, the hybrids are mash-ups of electronic and living systems, or cyborgs and androids.

My ideal hybrid of a person would be:
It would be my daughter Ro. She's the hybrid of me and my wife (Hani Hong) and I think she's the most fascinating person in the world. We're still waiting to see what her particular obsession will be.

What are you reading?
“Molecular Biology of the Cell” (Sixth Edition). And “Hooray for Fish!” by Lucy Cousins.  

What are you listening to?
Sonos. Or wind rustling through trees.

What are you working on at the moment?
Scaling up automated design and manufacture of synthetic viruses. 

Who are you most looking forward to hearing speak at PopTech?
Ti Chang.

Word association: Maine...
Line.

If you could pick one historical figure to watch give a PopTech talk, who would it be?
Nikola Tesla.

The words you live by:
Faster, better, cheaper. 

What do you know now that you wish you knew 10 years ago?
Who I wanted to have kids with.

Karaoke? Yes, no, curious. Go-to song?
Uh, no.

Slash series: Maira Kalman, author/illustrator

With PopTech: Hybrid just a few months away, we decided to ask our speakers a few burning questions. Take a peek inside the minds of this "slash generation" and sign up to be part of the Hybrid this Oct 22-24 in Camden, Maine.

Speaker: Maira Kalman, author and illustrator of numerous books for adults and children including “What Pete Ate,” “Looking at Lincoln,” “The Principles of Uncertainty” and “My Favorite Things.” She is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and The New Yorker. 

What’s one thing you want the PopTech audience to know about you that's not in your bio?
That I held Abraham Lincoln’s watch and bible in my hand.

What does hybrid mean to you from the perspective of your work?
Hybrid is one thing leading to another in a natural flow of ideas and delight. Being ambi-curious. Being prone to not seeing barriers.

What are you reading?
Marcel Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past.” Jean Racine’s “Phèdre.” Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind in the Willows.” Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

What are you listening to?
Classical music. 

What are you working on at the moment?
Co-creating a ballet with John Heginbotham. Painting a mural for the Jewish Museum in NYC. Writing a book about dogs called "Beloved Dog" that will come out in October 2015. Traveling.

Word association: Maine…
Maine - Minsk. And the reason I say that is because I am going to Maine this summer and then to Minsk.

If you could pick one historical figure to watch give a PopTech talk, who would it be?
Gertrude Stein. 

The words you live by:
Noli Timere. Remember this moment. Poor everybody.

What do you know now that you wish you knew 10 years ago?
I know less now.

Karaoke? Yes, no, curious. Go-to song?
Completely no. Let the others enjoy it without me.

Photo: Rick Meyerowitz 

New speakers added! Sign up by 5/19 to save $200

Today we’re thrilled to add 15 new speakers to the PopTech: Hybrid line-up! From famed illustrator and author Maira Kalman to renowned social entrepreneur Fred Swaniker, please meet the wide-ranging mix of hybrids who will take the stage this Oct 22-24 in Camden, Maine. 

Entrepreneur calls PopTech one of nine conferences worth your time and money in 2015. Join us to explore the possibilities and potential that emerge when disciplinary boundaries fall by the wayside. See how hybridity can be harnessed to solve complex problems in social, business, and global arenas. Delve into what it truly means to “do both” and no longer be rooted in a single field or methodology. Learn about the people, projects, and movements that embody hybrid thinking and action, all while spending a few days in beautiful Midcoast Maine. 

On May 19, ticket prices will increase to $2,000 so be sure to register before then to save $200! We can’t wait to see you in October. 

Get to know Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business

Earlier today, Fast Company revealed its 2015 list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business. We’re proud to see some members of the PopTech community included on the list. If you aren’t familiar with their work, start by giving the talks below a listen. Congrats Matt, Dan, Catherine, & Marije!

Matt Mason, BitTorrent (also a former PopTech board member!) 
Watch his 2008 PopTech talk on piracy. 

Dan Schulman, PayPal (formerly American Express)
Watch his 2013 PopTech talk on financial inclusion.

Marije Vogelzang, food designer
Watch her 2009 PopTech talk on edible art installations. 

Catherine Havasi, Luminoso
At PopTech 2014, she partnered with Erin McKean to lead an offstage session on the future of language-driven technology. 

Image: Fast Company

Supporting Nepal

Less than two weeks ago, a devastating earthquake changed the lives of thousands of people in Nepal forever. Our hearts go out to them. In times of global tragedy, it’s inspiring to see the overwhelming number of people and organizations that step up to help. Below we’ve included some of the relief efforts from the PopTech network that are taking place on the ground and virtually. Thanks to our friends at the Mulago Foundation for sharing updates with us.

Mapping damage and relief efforts 
Patrick Meier and other digital humanitarians are devoting their time to mapping the severity of damage in Nepal and where aid is needed most. To date, more than 1,200 people have used MicroMappers to sort through 35,000 images and 7,000 tweets to create digital crisis maps that provide insight to humanitarians working on the ground. Read more and also learn how the Humanitarian UAV Network has been activated. 

Helping victims obtain accurate information and news
Internews, a non-profit that works to empower local media around the world, is on the ground in Nepal working to ensure that affected populations have access to timely news from trusted sources and in languages they understand. Learn more about the importance of information in a crisis and how you can donate to help their cause.

Restoring and securing clean water
Splash, a safe water company focused on bringing clean water to schools and children, had previously installed water filtration systems in 149 public schools in the Kathmandu Valley. After confirming that Nepal-based Splash staffers were safe, the team is currently working to leverage the filtration systems at these schools to provide clean water to surrounding communities. They are also helping Kathmandu schools repair their water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure so that kids can go back to school as soon as possible. Learn more and donate to this important work. 

Rebuilding health systems
Medic Mobile builds mobile and health tools that monitor pregnancies, track disease outbreaks, monitor medicine stock, and communicate emergencies. One of the primary regional teams of Medic Mobile is based in Kathmandu. In response to the earthquake, Medic Mobile has created mobile and web applications to support the Ministry of Health and Population and Health clusters for daily situation reports. These tools can gather and analyze data from thousands of contacts using their own devices, including smart phones, basic phones, and computers. See what else the Medic Mobile team is doing to help. In addition, the team on the ground has vetted organizations who they think are doing the most impactful relief work. You can find their list here along with ways in which you can provide support. 

Possible Health focuses on making healthcare possible in impossible places, with a high-quality, low-cost healthcare system model that integrates government hospitals, clinics, and community health workers. Their sites in western Nepal were not affected, but they have their team working with the America Nepal Medical Foundation (ANMF) to provide support. You can follow along with updates and donate on their joint Indiegogo page.

Bringing relief aid to the remotest parts of Nepal
One Heart World-Wide’s mission is to decrease maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity in remote rural areas. Among the districts most affected by the earthquake are two of One Heart World-Wide’s program areas: Dhading and Sindhupalchok. The government of Nepal officially requested their assistance. One Heart currently has nine emergency relief teams deployed in Dhading and their teams reached Sindhupalchok a few days ago to assess damage and to distribute emergency medical supplies. It’s estimated that 75% of health facilities in Dhading have been destroyed and over 90% sustained damages. Read their blog for the latest updates and if you would like to help – you can donate through their site. 

Images: Patrick Meier and Medic Mobile

New PopTech Roadtrip dates announced!

With spring in the air, the PopTech Roadtrip is gearing up to hit the road again. Recently we stopped in LA to host an evening focused around experiential learning initiatives. Next up: we’re coming to London and New York! 

Together with Steelcase, we’re continuing to host Roadtrip events across the Atlantic and in the Big Apple that feature interesting speakers and opportunities to meet other members of the PopTech community. Sign up today to reserve your spot. See you then!

PopTech Roadtrip: London
Tuesday, June 23
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Steelcase WorkLife Center, 77-79 Farringdon Road, London, EC1M 3JU
Speaker: John Maeda, returning guest host of PopTech, will explore the PopTech 2015 conference theme of Hybrid. As boundaries between industries and disciplines blur, a “slash generation” emerges—people who are no longer rooted in a single field or methodology. What does “doing both” mean in the 21st century? Hear from John Maeda on how patterns of hybridity are on the rise—and how technology, design, and business may be impacted.

PopTech Roadtrip: New York
Thursday, Sept 10
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Steelcase WorkLife Center, 4 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019
Speaker: Stay tuned for updates!

Collaboration alert! “How to Clone a Mammoth” gets animated

What happens when an artist and a scientist collaborate? Long-time PopTech conference scribe and PopTech Fellows faculty member Peter Durand of Alphachimp first met Beth Shapiro in 2011, when she was a PopTech Science Fellow. Beth is an evolutionary biologist and pioneer in “ancient DNA” research who explores the influences of climate and humans in determining species extinction.

Fast-forward four years to when Beth and Peter crossed paths at another conference. Beth presented on the challenges and possibilities of cloning a mammoth, or the “science of de-extinction.” Peter scribed her talk and afterwards when admiring the result, they knew they had to animate it. Their work together on animating “How to Clone a Mammoth” became the book trailer for her book of the same name, out on April 5. Watch their video below and be sure to check out Beth’s book on the process of de-extinction.

Know of other PopTech collaborations? Send them to comm[at]poptech[dot]org to be featured on the blog.  

Smith College looks for co-director/designer in residence for new pilot program

This guest post was authored by PopTech community member Borjana Mikic, Professor of Engineering and Faculty Director for Initiatives in Design Thinking and the Liberal Arts at Smith College. Questions about the role she describes below? Contact her at bmikic@smith.edu. 

A few years ago, I convened a group of approximately 40 faculty and staff at Smith College, the nation's largest women’s liberal arts college, to discuss Tim Brown's and Jocelyn Wyatt's article "Design Thinking for Social Innovation." Over the course of two hours, our wide-ranging conversation touched on three questions:

  • What does design accomplish in terms of student learning?
  • Is design thinking a useful construct for us at Smith?
  • How might we build on the community of design thinkers at the college to create something greater than the sum of its parts?

Smith has a long history of educating women leaders for society's challenges, as well as strengths in design (with programs in engineering, architecture, landscape studies, and other studio and performing arts). It seemed to those of us who gathered together on that cold December day that we were on to something that could be quite powerful in cultivating the creative and resilient habits of mind and body that our students would need to engage collaboratively across disciplines while addressing the pressing problems of our times. 

Luckily, we weren't the only ones who thought this had potential! As of January, we have received a multi-year grant to launch an exciting experimental pilot program in Design Thinking and the Liberal Arts. This is where we need your help. We seek a dynamic individual with substantial experience as a practitioner within a relevant design thinking environment to join us in this exciting endeavor as co-director/designer in residence. If you're intrigued, and are curious to find out more, please take a look at the full job posting through Smith's official job site. Thank you for helping us spread the word!

What to watch this weekend: PopTech Hits

In a few weeks, we’ll share a major speaker announcement. Join our mailing list to hear it first. Let the countdown begin...  

Until then, we’re celebrating the wildly brilliant and thought-provoking speakers and performers who have graced the PopTech stage. We even put together a playlist of some of our most memorable talks. Tune in, turn it up, and share with your friends. Tweet us your favorite or let us know what you would add!

All you need is love + these three PopTech talks

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with chocolate and roses, or you forgo it altogether, we’ve rounded up three PopTech talks that are sure to capture your attention (and maybe even your heart).

Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher (PopTech 2014) teaches us a thing or two about the science behind attraction and how and why we fall in love. While at PopTech, Helen Fisher sat down with "On Being" for an interview around the biology of love and how we can use this knowledge to give new meaning to our relationships. Tune in here

Designer Kacie Kinzer (PopTech 2010) shares a heartwarming experiment featuring a cardboard robot and its journey across New York's Washington Square Park. 

Professor and author Stephanie Coontz (PopTech 2009) explores our notions of love, marriage, and where it's headed as an institution.