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Empiricist League #16: The Hidden DNA of NYC

Sep 23, 2015 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm


What are the 15,000 microscopic lifeforms that live on the subway? How disgusting are the contaminants in the Gowanus Canal? Can we use technology to stop the spread of flu? Join us for the Empiricist League’s sixteenth gathering, covering the many varieties of DNA and microbes in New York City.

Doors at 7pm. First speaker starts at 7:30pm.

Going Viral: Using the Internet to Track the Flu in NYC and Beyond
Rumi Chunara is an Assistant Professor at NYU, in Computer Science & Engineering and the Global Institute of Public Health. Many important behaviors and environmental parameters that can affect our health are not captured by traditional healthcare systems. Thus, Dr. Chunara’s research investigates how we can use data from outside healthcare systems to better understand how and why infectious and noncommunicable diseases spread in populations. In order to do this she builds systems to obtain data and develop computational methods to harness the unstructured data and incorporate it into epidemiological models. She will speak about her project crowdsourcing molecular specimens from the community to validate and improve infectious disease reports.

Mapping the Subway’s DNA: Sharing Your Commute with 15,000 Other Lifeforms
Ebrahim Afshinnekoo is a project leader at PathoMap, launched in summer of 2013 by the Christopher Mason Lab at Weill Cornell Medical College. The project studied the microbiome and metagenome of the built environment of NYC, with special emphasis on the subway system. Mr. Afshinnekoo will speak to the Empiricist League about what PathoMap uncovered about about both the microbial and human diversity of New York City.

Enquête Gowanus: Invisible Life in the Gowanus Canal
Ian Quate is a designer with a penchant for microorganisms. His work expands the scope and relevance of landscape design to the varied terrain of today’s built environment, through cross-disciplinary projects with unorthodox collaborators. He is a designer at Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, the co-founder with Colleen Tuite of GRNASFCK an experimental landscape studio. and creative lead of Enquête Gowanus, a partnership with Weill Cornell Medical College, the Gowanus Canal Conservancy (GCC), and GenSpace, a community biolab in downtown Brooklyn. Ian will speak to the Empiricist League about the environmental context, industrial legacy, and biological strategies to process pollution in the Gowanus Canal.


Sep 23, 2015
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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Union Hall
702 Union Street
Brooklyn, NY ,NY11215United States


Empiricist League