Designing visual systems to make sense of complex data. Figuring out how community health workers can be more effective using mobile tools. Studying human moral judgement through the lens of cognitive and neural mechanisms. 

See what else the 2013 PopTech Science Fellows are up to.

A highlight of PopTech’s fall conference is when each PopTech Social Innovation and Science Fellow takes the stage in Camden to showcase his or her own work. The raw ingenuity is on full display: reducing malaria by rendering mosquitos infertile, storing digital data in DNA, untangling the evolutionary tree of life, dispatching drones to deliver medicine, and creating nimble new companies with millions of employees but zero managers.

Those presentations are now available online. 

Regardless of the caliber of these eye-popping breakthroughs, it is a huge leap to move a fledgling effort into a program that might help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges. And these kinds of visionaries too often labor in relative isolation, without the benefit of a network of experts and supporters who can help equip an innovator with the skills and connections critical for making that great leap. 

PopTech’s Fellows programs provide multifaceted training from a network of established leaders with broad experience ranging from building effective organizations to fundraising to communications  the very skills required to launch innovations to the next level. The nucleus of the Fellows program is the unique opportunity to connect with like-minded peers and enjoy one-on-one access to experienced mentors. 

Enjoy their Camden presentations and keep an eye on PopTech as we follow their adventures.


Scientist’s game helps map the brain

MIT professor Sebastian Seung and his team launched EyeWire, an online game that invites volunteer “scientists” to build 3-D maps of the cell networks that are crucial for vision.


Computational neuroscientist and 2010 PopTech Science Fellow H. Sebastian Seung conducts pioneering research on the wiring of the brain, and what it reveals about genetics, personality, and memory. At our 2010 Science and Living Systems Salon Seung suggests that complex maps of neural connective structures, or connectomes, will reveal that our experiences literally shape our brains.

2011 Science Fellow Alysson Muotri spends his days using stem cells to understand autism, a disorder that affects 1% of all U.S. children. By examining the brain cells of adult patients with Rett syndrome specifically, he’s trying to determine if Autism Spectrum Disorder is permanent or if it’s possible to treat those cells with chemicals, inducing them to revert back to normal conditions.

Next week we’ll be announcing the second class of PopTech Science and Public Leadership Fellows, a corps of highly visible and socially engaged scientific leaders who embody science as an essential way of thinking, discovering, understanding and deciding.

In preparation, we thought we’d revisit the significant work of our inaugural class of 2010 Science Fellows through Quick takes, a series of entertaining - and educational - PopTech-produced videos that highlight each scientist’s work. Operating across varied disciplines - including energy, food, water, public health, climate change, conservation, and computing - the 2010 class encompassed the breadth and diversity of this program.

Take a gander at each of our 2010 Fellows’ videos in this series to learn more about their work. And stay tuned next week for our new class of Fellows.


Casey Dunn’s “Creaturecast” is still rockin’ it… (via VHX)

Science Fellow Casey Dunn on evolving diversity at PopTech 2010. 

Can an Algorithm Spot the Next Google?

By definition, “disruptive” technologies are those that take the world by surprise. Now a startup called Quid claims that its software can make good guesses about what the next big thing will be. It does this by analyzing a store of data on existing companies, ideas, and research.

Over the past 18 months, Quid has developed a system that charts the relationships between existing technologies, and identifies areas ripe for influential new ideas. “The goal is to map the world’s technology and to understand where it’s going,” says Sean Gourley, Quid’s chief technology officer. “The human brain can’t process all of this.” The company thinks its software can help people who invest in early-stage technologies pick more winners than losers, or guide companies into potentially lucrative areas of research.

Sean Gourley (Science Fellow 2010) is a mathematician who has spent the last seven years using math to understand war and insurgency. He is now applying that understanding to develop ways to map technology companies – in search of the “technology genome.”

You can get bacteria to do almost anything, a quality that 2010 PopTech Science Fellow Justin Gallivan finds rather amazing. What’s the future of this capability? His research has impressive implications in using bacteria to clean up environmental pollutants and improve our health.

Cell biologist Amro Hamdoun seeks to understand the systems that cells and embryos use to protect themselves against chemical pollution. Why do some “bad” chemicals make it into cells, and how can we predict which ones will as we develop even more chemicals?