Team:UCL PG/Social



Science Generated Fashion - Malene

Reported by Thomas

Departing the bus near South Tottenham Station, North London, Cassie and I were walking into an industrial area consisting mainly of piles of tires, half torn down warehouses and the odd metalworker and mechanic. We weren’t expecting this on our trip to a designer-studio, but we weren’t about to meet an ordinary artist. Malene Oddershede Bach is a rather exotic fashion designer. Her distinct prints are described as articulate and intellectual. Apart from features in Vogue, ELLE, Marie Claire and Grazia the award winning artist (‘Ones to watch’) has acquired a loyal industry fan-base on her professional journey. Born in Denmark, she chose to live in the UK, successfully designing and marketing her collections.
She struggles a little moving the heavy metal-gate leading to her overgrown courtyard which unexpectedly is speckled with flowers and greens, and a fruiting hawthorn at the back and the morning sun remember of the British country side rather than on an industrial site in London. She leads us into her studio which is covered with prints and samples of her work – designer dresses, handbags and various other accessories.
Here prints are inspired by nature she says, pointing at a piece of fabric with a print of red blobs on black background. “These are sun dried tomatoes and these are the cells of the intestines of a rat” she moves on, showing us two dresses from her collection recent collection. Made from images taken from various sources, she creates repeatable patterns on the computer which are printed onto the fabrics for her designs. Her designs remind me of autumn-leaves and fireworks, not dried tomatoes and cancer cells. After we sat down and discussed the design of the team t-shirt for the iGEM competition (which she is going produce), we explained that our work is aimed at stem-cell research and therapy, she got very interested: “Looking at the potential treatments stem cell therapy offers, it could be a very useful tool in future.” Stem cells have the ability to develop into any cell required. “I like this ‘bottom-up design’ approach”; starting from an image (for example a fluorescent image of mKeima ☺) she works the whole process from designing to marketing.
Malene pointed out that she is marketing her designs and selling them on markets and in chosen boutiques: “In the catalogue and in the stalls the dresses with the prints are given names like ‘plasm wedge’ or ‘water-corral’, so, unfortunately there won’t be a dress or top with the name ‘mKeima’ in the foreseeable future.“
Malene proved to be the perfect associate for further projects: “Science can be very inspiring, instead of taking a photograph of a flower, I rather take a photo of something similar, something which has more of a story behind it, which may raise awareness. I like when people are allowed the freedom of thinking about the patterns in a different way.

Machines Rocks - Arnold

In the quest of finding a top cell sorter machine to carry out high-throughput screening in our directed evolution experiment, we met Arnold Richard Pizzey. He is an electronic, mechanic and cell sorter expert in UCL Cancer Institute. We are deeply impressed by his works, especially by his latest innovation, an advanced cell sorter prototype which can potentially sort thousands and thousands of mutants every few hours. We decided to collaborate, and will be testing out his prototype with our iGEM project!
Further conversation with Arnold had opened up our mind of the detailed mechanistic of charge powered sorting machines. His feedback and insights laid down the foundation of the evolution protocol we are trying to establish.

Art Inspiration - Maunel

Maunel Wolf is a German Artist and Product-designer interested and present in wide range of crafts, using various methods and materials. If one had to choose two words that describe the style of his portfolio, they would need to be: Dynamic and Powerful! His campaigns and various artistic projects, range from high definition art work and classic drawings to furniture and clothing-designs. Having won various awards and prices for his artistic output, Manuel can be regarded as a talented uprising artist with outstanding sense for combination of style and material.

Image of initial drawing for iGEM poster: People manipulating mKeima.

Manuel’s CV shows that he always has been interested in arts and crafts as well as science. ‘Interest’ is one of the key factors to his work he said: “I am exploring the world. If I see something of interest to me, I want it to make it readily accessible to others. I want them to be interested… To me, my art is the converter-tool needed to translate outstanding research to the public. This is the first step to get a greater public response.”
We recently had a chat via Skype with the Germany based multitalented artist, discussing the possibility of working together in an attempt to initially get the public interested and, in a long term, involved in science based research. His approach is the obvious one: “We produce art and make it public”.
Engaging with the public via this straight forward approach inspired us to be more optimistic about the link between science and public awareness and engagement. Manuel agreed to work with team SPECTRA, because: “Cancer is such a devastating development within the body. Raising awareness is very important. I like aspects of competitions like iGEM, especially that it shows research from a different point of view – more accessible, like I try to do within my art.”

Interacting with other teams

We had kept a close connection with UCL Undergrads team, Spotless Mind. We helped each other in resources and sharing ideas. Coming from Cancer Insitute, we gave away many clues of cell cultures and cloning.

Attending YSB 1.0 is a so much fun. We met many teams across Europe, presented our idea, slides and posters, and received many valuable feedback from all the teams.
Following that, we established collaborative contact with iGEM team from Exeter after knowing we are both working on photosensitive circuits.