Baltimore Innovation Week / Science

BUGSS marks 5 years of community science in Highlandtown

The lab space provided a look at some of the BioCrew's work during Baltimore Innovation Week.

Live science at BUGGS. (Photo by Chelsea Prevosto)

Baltimore Underground Science Space, also known as BUGSS, provided an open door to see some experiments on the last day of Baltimore Innovation Week 2017 with its fifth birthday celebration.
BUGSS was born out of a desire to democratize the world of biological technology, prompting Founder Tom Burkett to open the community lab in Highlandtown.
One of Burkett’s goals in opening the lab was to create a space for people who are curious about science but who don’t have access to the knowledge and techniques that would allow them to explore that more, he said.
The lab currently has about 20-25 members who pay a monthly fee to access the lab and work on projects they want to pursue. Volunteers like Michiko Kennedy, a Johns Hopkins Core Laboratory lab tech, help staff the public lab.
“[BUGSS] allows you to have the lab experience without the pressure,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy said the community lab environment allows people to express and satisfy their curiosity, explaining why it attracts amateurs, artists, professionals, activists and students alike. BUGSS hosts classes, seminars and school-age programs, with a homeschool course beginning soon. One class held earlier this year was focused on genome editing tool CRISPR.
“It’s a really hot new technology for being able to change the human genome,” said Lisa Scheifele, an associate professor of biology at Loyola University Maryland, who serves as secretary on the lab’s Board of Directors. “It’s really gotten a lot of attention and for us to be able to do it in a community lab is really exciting…to be able to give people hands-on [introduction] to that.”

The iGEM team at BUGGS. (Photo by Chelsea Prevosto)

The iGEM team at BUGGS. (Photo by Chelsea Prevosto)

BUGSS is also the current home of high school iGEM team BioCrew, who won a bronze medal for their work in last year’s international competition held in Boston. The team is working on plastic degradation. They are engineering bacteria to break down plastics, Burkett said, with a particular emphasis on saving the Inner Harbor.
Enjoying a dry ice cream treat. (Photo by Chelsea Prevosto)

Enjoying a dry ice cream treat. (Photo by Chelsea Prevosto)

Some of the BioCrew's work. (Photo by Chelsea Prevosto)

Some of the BioCrew’s work. (Photo by Chelsea Prevosto)

Companies: Baltimore Under Ground Science Space (BUGSS)

Before you go...

Please consider supporting to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!


How to encourage more healthcare entrepreneurship (and why that matters)

Find out what type of heat wave you’re really in for with NOAA’s HeatRisk dashboard

How AI can revolutionize education's quest for truth

Baltimore Money Moves: Howard County cyber company lands $150M Series D

Technically Media