Gallatin School of Individualized Study Professor Mitchell Joachim and a team of students captured a bronze medal at the International Genetic Engineering Machine (iGEM) competition in October for creating a full-scale synthetic biological chair.
The chair, the Genetic Generation Seat or Gen2Seat, combines mycelium blocks, or mushrooms, with genetically modified cellulose—acetobacter—to create a novel, sustainable biopolymer.
“A first of its kind, the Gen2Seat is a radical green alternative to Ikea furniture,” explained Joachim, co-president of Terreform ONE, a non-profit design group that promotes green design in cities. “We’re aiming to improve the material properties of cellulose by genetically engineering the strain to incorporate color, improve strength, and to repel water. We hope to eventually use this material to build larger-scale objects.”
Organic cellulose forms the primary cell wall of green plants.
Gallatin students Josue Ledesma, Jesse Hull, Justin Kim, and Greg Pucillo and James Schwartz, a student in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, were also part of the design team.
Joachim was chosen by Wired magazine for “The 2008 Smart List: 15 People the Next President Should Listen To” and Rolling Stone magazine recognized him as “The 100 People Who Are Changing America.”