2018 Biodesign Challenge Summit

June 21st + 22nd, 2018

Museum of Modern Art
Parsons School of Design


Day One - June 21

Members of the public who would like to join us on the first day of the BDC Summit at Museum of Modern Art in New York City can see the schedule and register here. Please note that we only have seats available for the student presentations. 

Register Here


Day Two - June 22- Live Stream

Fully booked at MoMA, we'll be live streaming Day 2 of the Summit. Join us at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_8GAetAOas


Day 2 - Schedule

9:30 - 9:40:  Introduction & Announcement of Top Teams

9:40 - 10:10:  Speaker: Orkan Telhan

10:10 - 11:30:  Finalist Team Presentations

11:30 - 11:40: Break

11:40 - 1:00:  Finalist Team Presentations

1:00 - 2:20:  Lunch

2:20 - 2:50:  Speaker: Claire Bergkamp

2:50 - 3:50:  Animal–Free Wool Prize Finalists

Maryland Institute College of Art

Fashion Institute of Technology

Universidad de los Andes - Team 2

3:50 - 4:20: Break

4:20 - 5:00: Award Ceremony

Gallery Show- Open to the Public


Student Projects from the Biodesign Challenge

June 21st - 23rd

Opening Reception: June 21st from 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Parsons School of Design
The Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
66 Fifth Avenue (Entrance on 5th & 13th Street), 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10011

Join us for the opening of NATURE/POSTNATURE, an exhibition of student projects from the 2018 Biodesign Challenge. The 26 chosen projects portray futures where the lines between the natural and designed worlds have blurred, and where products and provocations are made from organisms that have been engineered on the cellular level.

Chosen from 100+ BDC projects developed throughout 2018 by collaborations between students, biologists, artists, and designers, the exhibited pieces explore the possible ways biotechnology may reshape our lives, environment, and very understanding of the natural world.

Light snacks and drinks will be provided.



Keynote Speakers


Christina Agapakis
Creative Director of Ginkgo Bioworks

Claire Bergkamp.jpg

Claire Bergkamp
Head of Sustainability at Stella McCartney

Nelson - photo.jpg

Alondra Nelson
President of the Social Science Research Council and Professor of Sociology at Columbia University


Orkan Telhan
Co-founder and Chief Design Officer, Biorealize, Inc. and Associate Professor of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania

Christina Agapakis, Ph.D., is creative director of Ginkgo Bioworks, a biological design company based in Boston. Her work brings together biologists, engineers, designers, artists, and social scientists to explore the future of biotechnology, from perfume made from extinct flowers to engineered probiotics and GMO beer. During her PhD at Harvard, she worked on producing hydrogen fuel in bacteria and making photosynthetic animals. She has taught designers at the Art Center College of Design and biomolecular engineers at UCLA, and she once made cheese using bacteria from the human body.


Claire Bergkamp joined Stella McCartney in 2012 and is the Worldwide Director of Sustainability and Innovation. During her tenure at Stella McCartney, Claire has helped establish the brand’s leadership and reputation in sustainability.  She has developed its robust environmental and social improvement strategy and worked across the brand and its supply chain internationally to implement it.  Claire has focused particularly on sustainable raw material development and procurement, as well as driving alternative materials and innovation. As such, she works closely with innovators, start-ups and universities to find new sustainable business models and solutions. A key element of her sustainability approach includes supplier engagement and the ongoing improvement in social welfare across the supply chain. Within this context, she also oversees Stella McCartney's ethical trade and community outreach programs.


Alondra Nelson, Ph.D., is president of the Social Science Research Council and professor of sociology at Columbia University. An award-winning scholar of science, medicine, and social inequality, her recent books include The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome, Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History, and Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination. Alondra has contributed to national policy discussions on inequality, and about the social implications of new technologies, including artificial intelligence, big data, direct-to-consumer genetics, and human gene-editing. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Data & Society Research Institute. Alondra is chair of the American Sociological Association Section on Science, Knowledge, and Technology and is an elected member of the Sociological Research Association.


Orkan Telhan, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Fine Arts - Emerging Design Practices at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Design. He holds a Ph.D. in Design and Computation from MIT's Department of Architecture. He was part of the Sociable Media Group at the MIT Media Laboratory and a researcher at the MIT Design Laboratory. Telhan's individual and collaborative work has been exhibited internationally in venues including the Istanbul Biennial (2013), Istanbul Design Biennial (2012, 2016), Salone del Mobile Milano, Vienna Design Week, the Armory Show 2015 Special Projects, Ars Electronica (2007, 2017), ISEA, LABoral, Archilab, Architectural Association, the Architectural League of New York, MIT Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.


Christina Agapakis, Ph.D., Creative Director, Ginkgo Bioworks

Suzanne Anker, Fine Arts Chair, School of Visual Arts

Amber Benezra, Ph.D., Director of Science and Technology Studies, NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Marnie Benney, Gallery Director at the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design

Julia Buntaine, Founding Director and Editor-in-Chief, SciArt Center and Magazine

Carrie Cizauskas, DVM, Ph.D., Manager of Publishing and Academic Relations, Zymergen, Inc.

Alison Dell, P.h.D., Assistant Professor of Biology, St. Francis College

Michael J. Flanagan, Ph.D., Founder and CEO, FlanaGen LLC

Kirby Gookin, Professor, New York University and The School of Visual Arts

Christine Gould, Founder, Thought For Food (TFF) Foundation

Gigi Gronvall, Ph.D., Senior Scholar, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

Odile Hainaut, Co-Founder, WantedDesign

Karen Hogan, Ph.D., CEO and Cofounder, Biorealize, Inc.

Gillian Jarvis, Director of Design, Twist Bioscience

Nancy J Kelley, JD, MPP, President and CEO, Nancy J Kelley + Associates

David Sun Kong, Ph.D., Synthetic Biologist and Director, MIT Media Lab's Community Biotechnology Initiative

Todd Kuiken, Ph.D., Senior Research Scholar, North Carolina State University

Claire Pijoulat, Co-founder, WantedDesign

Margaret MacDonald, Ph.D., Freelance Curator, Maryland Institute College of Art

Matilda McQuaid, Deputy Director of Curatorial and Head of the Textiles Department, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

Elliott P. Montgomery, Assistant Professor of Strategic Design, Parsons School of Design and co-founder, The Extrapolation Factory

William Myers, Curator, Teacher, and Author of Biodesign

Jeanne Pfordresher, Adjunct Associate of Pratt Institute Industrial Design, Partner Hybrid Product Design

Hannah Star Rogers, Ph.D., Visiting Scholar, University of Edinburgh and Chief Curator of Art’s Work in the Age of Biotech

Laura Stankiewicz, Relationship Manager, Siegel Family Endowment (SFE)

Orkan Telhan, Ph.D., Co-founder and Chief Design Officer, Biorealize, Inc. and Associate Professor of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania

Harris Wang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Systems Biology, Columbia University

Elizabeth Wissinger, Ph.D., Professor of Fashion Studies and Sociology, City University of New York

Sophie Zaaijer, Ph.D., Runway Startup Postdoc, Cornell Tech


Animal–Free Wool Prize Judges:

Claire Bergkamp, Head of Sustainability and Ethical Trade, Stella McCartney

Stephanie Downs, Corporate Social Responsibility Consultant, PETA

Lisa Feria, CEO, Stray Dog Capital

Laura Shields, Corporate Liaison, PETA


  • Arizona State University
  • California Institute of the Arts, School of Critical Studies
  • The City College of New York
  • Drexel University
  • École Boulle/CRI, Paris
  • Fashion Institute of Technology, NY
  • Georgetown University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Keio University, Japan
  • McGill University
  • Maryland Institute College of Art
  • New York University, IDM
  • New York University, ITP
  • Parsons School of Design, NY
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY
  • Rutgers University, NJ
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • University of California, Davis
  • Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia
  • Universidad del Istmo, Guatemala
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of Edinburgh, UK
  • Ghent University
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Toledo




The Overall Winner of the Biodesign Challenge will take home the Glass Microbe, which will be passed to each year’s winners. Created by artist Luke Jerram, the Glass Microbe is a unique artwork and symbol of the intersection of art, design, and biology. 


The Runner-Up Prize goes to the team with the second highest score with regard to the judging criteria and a vote among the judges. 


outstanding FIELD RESEARCH:

The Outstanding Field Research Prize goes to the team that takes the initiative to go out into the field and interview experts as well as potentially affected communities in order to find and understand the real social impacts of their project.


outstanding SCIENCE:

The Outstanding Science Prize is awarded to the team that designs and executes outstanding scientific experiments, exhibits mastery of traditional lab techniques, as well as analyzes, interprets, and best communicates scientific data. These students not only obtain an adept understanding of systems and structures in a scientific framework, but also consider the ethics and reproducibility of their work.


outstanding PRESENTATION:

The Outstanding Presentation Prize is awarded to the team that creates the best visual rendering, designs the best posters and models, and delivers an outstanding presentation at the Biodesign Challenge Summit. 



The PETA Prize for Animal-Free Wool will be awarded to the team that explores and/or develops proofs of a concept for a sustainable biomaterial that could replace animal wool. The student teams should take into consideration the material’s lifecycle, production processes, disposal, and potential for recycling, as well as how the biomaterial manufacturing process might scale up to be compatible with or even propel today’s garment industry.


About The Glass Microbe


The overall winner of the Biodesign Challenge will take home the Glass Microbe. Each year, it will be passed to the winner. Created by UK artist Luke Jerram, the Glass Microbe is a unique artwork and symbol of the intersection of art, design and biology. 

Jerram’s Glass Microbiology sculptures have been shown in museums around the world, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Corning Museum of Glass in New York and the Wellcome Collection, London. In 2014-15 his sculptures were presented at ArtScience Museum, Singapore alongside Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Atlanticus


Banner image: Francisco Schmidt, MoMA.