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OWW recently joined The Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS), a growing grassroots network of universities, scientific societies, science centers and museums, government agencies, advocacy groups, media, schools, educators, businesses, and industry — basically, anyone who cares about science and is concerned about national scientific literacy. COPUS and its participants lead the way in the celebration of the Year of Science 2009 (YoS09) — a national, year-long celebration of science to engage the public and improve public understanding about how science works, why it matters, and who scientists are. Read more about the Coalition’s activities here.

Natalie Kuldell, OWW member and an instructor in Biological Engineering at MIT, is coordinating the Boston-area COPUS hub. The hub is open to anyone who is interested in networking and partnering with great institutions around town (such as WGBH, Boston’s Museum of Science, and lots of others) to cross-promote activities like Science Cafes, DIY bio groups, and work on the Encyclopedia of Life/Encyclopedia of Species. If you’d like to see science moved from the fringe to center stage, COPUS is a great place to get involved.

Feel free to email Natalie (nkuldell at mit dot edu) for more information about the Boston hub. Participation is open to anyone in the science community in the Boston area (or anyone within driving distance), the more the merrier! After hosting a great kick-off meeting in early May, the Boston COPUS Hub will be holding its second mixer event on July 29th at the WGBH studios in Somerville to preview the summer NovaNOW series. In addition, the Boston folks have a third mixer and showcase planned for Sept 26th at the MIT Museum as part of its anniversary celebration. If you’re not in the Boston area, there may be a COPUS hub in your area.

Natalie writes, “My experiences with this group have been inspiring. There are so many incredible folks involved, doing exciting educational and engaging work. Hope you’ll consider joining the fun!”

NPR’s RadioWorkshop ran a segment on Tuesday’s Morning Edition on the MIT 2006 iGEM team’s work on a banana and mint scented E. coli (aka Eau d’Coli) … all done on OWW. The report featured a graduating senior, Stephen Payne, and OpenWetWare’s own (also soon to be graduating with her doctorate degree!) Reshma Shetty.

From the NPR page:
MIT Eau D'Coli Team

Even if you’re already familiar with the results, E. coli which has shed its rather distinctive scent in exchange for mint and banana, the RadioWorks report is well worth a listen.

In addition to the great report, a Biological Engineering “theme song” is sung at the end of the report in the style of a Gilbert and Sullivan ditty.

Here’s a link to the story and the downloadable audio:

From the report:

“…I’d rather be swapping jeans.
It’s mankind’s only fighting chance,
Designer genes, not denim pants.
We’ll stop disease and greenhouse gases,
Sequencing nucleic acids.

We’ve cracked the code, we’ve seen the light.
We’re building stuff, we’re building life…

The road ahead is clear,
Because we’re Bio-Engineers!

We’re building stuff!”

Check out the full list of all users at Special:Listusers

We also invite you to join our discussion or feedback mailing lists at OpenWetWare:Mailing_lists, or send us your comments by clicking the “contact” link in the left hand navigation bar.

Both Slashdot and Digg cover OpenWetWare and Mitch Waldrop’s Scientific American article.

Welcome Slashdotters and Diggers!

This week’s Nature podcast features Mitch Waldrop, from Scientific American, discussing OpenWetWare and the use of Web2.0 technologies in research. (The discussion starts just past halfway through the podcast.) You can also check out Mitch’s article in Scientific American on OpenWetWare and Science 2.0

Inanimate Carbon Rod

OWW is pleased to announce a new addition to our system: ROD:Research on Demand. ROD enables the creation of research results that meet the demands of your publication and graduation schedules. By design, ROD is never 100% correct, and includes errors as subtle or as blatant as you would find in actual research results. With ROD you get the time, AND the reasons, to complete your work.

The variability of results from scientific experiments has traditionally been a major inhibitor of research progress and matriculation. Complex protocols, expensive materials, exotic equipment, trained staff, and meticulous attention to detail are typically needed to obtain quality results required for publications, clients, and various intellectual property (IP) protection agencies. Having access to all of these components at the right time and, getting desired outcomes, can be challenging at the best of times. When deadlines loom, getting consistent results may be impossible.

With OWW’s ROD, “good enough to stay in the game” results needed to address complex external dependencies are algorithmically constructed for you. In fact, ROD delivers flawed data so well, in some cases, you may never even need to finish your experiment. Should you choose to, ROD gives you extra leeway to create delays that even your toughest PI’s will agree to. Think of ROD as the “dog ate my homework” for scientists.

How Does ROD Work?

OWW’s ROD system seamlessly merges the vast array of publicly-available published information with software technology from some of the world’s most prestigious labs to produce a realistic, but subtly flawed, mash-up of any data set you need.

Example Techniques Supported

Here is a partial list of the techniques that can be included in your ROD results:X-Ray Crystallography: Resolution just low enough to produce inconclusive but “interesting” results 100% of the time.

PCR: Samples that appear to show the specific sequences required but are artfully flawed with substrates that, upon secondary analysis, will always come up negative.

Microscopy: High quality JPEG images that, on a second viewing, revert to the family travel photos you submit to us. Pet photos or opening frames from YouTube videos may also be substituted.

Using ROD, OWW guarantees you will have negative results for any findings you submit. We give you publication-quality assets that are be remarkably realistic but, under further scrutiny, will never pass peer review. However, the time you gain by using ROD assets will give you that decisive edge in pulling together the actual data.

What Users Are Saying About ROD

Here’s testimony from some of our beta testers:“If my thesis committee didn’t get off my case, I never would have finished my degree. ROD gave me the time to do it right. OK. Maybe not ‘right’, but at least, ‘better’. My committee was convinced what I had submitted was worth reviewing. When they saw the negative results but understood the plausible reason for it failing, my senior advisor actually took me out to dinner. Thanks OWW!”

“ROD got me my first-choice post-doc. The data set I submitted looked great. I got lucky; the data was never reviewed but if it were, they would have noted that the reason it was wrong was not my hypothesis but that it was the data for another experiment cited in one of my papers. The “honest mistake” angle made me feel confident that if anyone digs into my past, it can’t be used against me. This is great. I love Open Science!”

“The FDA bought every line of the report ROD submitted for me. Our review was so well accepted that the entire lab is using it for all of our new clinical trial applications.”

“I never thought I’d get out of my lab position. Thanks to ROD, I’m now managing a major facility. I don’t even need to redo my experiments. The quality of ROD info is THAT high. My start-up page is OpeWetWare now! Thanks, ROD!”


The system is still beta. ROD will be available for general use at some point in the near future….

OpenWhatWhere?John writes: Hi all just a quick note to say hello, I’ll be taking over from Jason Kelly as steering committee coordinator for the next 6 months. This could possibly be the busiest 6 months of my life as I’ll be moving to California for the summer too. The first meeting that I’ll chair will be on Thu April 10th at noon EST where I’ll be chairing a discussion focused on where OWW has been, where it is going and how to make sure that you feel able to contribute to its continued success. Please keep an eye out on the ‘discuss at openwetware dot org’ mailing list for details of how to call in and take part. We’re particularly reaching out to new members wanting to get involved in how the site is run and the direction that it is taking.


If you happen to be a user of OpenWetWare (registered or not) and also own another website or blog, why not spread the word by adding one of these cool OWW banners and buttons to your site?

Join OWWIt’s easy. Go to the Support OWW page and copy the HTML code that appears below the banner of your choice. Then paste it in the HTML of your website or the sidebar template page of your blog.

If you need help setting up your banner, contact us. We’ll do our best to help you.

Lorrie LeJeune writes: Here’s a great example of the collaborative nature of OpenWetWare at work. Last week community member Torsten Waldminghaus discovered that many useful bioinformatics protocols from wikiomics are archived on OpenWetWare. He sorted through them and added a series of links to the “In Silico” list on the protocol overview page. Thanks, Torsten.

This is true for all users: If you see a way to better organize something on OWW, don’t hesitate to step up. Send a message to discuss at openwetware dot org and we’ll help you get started.

The Steering Committee has been spending a lot of time these days brainstorming how to create a sense of community amongst OpenWetWare users. With over 3500 users and growing, we are worried that OWW could turn into a web-hosting service where people host their lab home pages, and don’t really communicate with one another. There are lots of things we could be doing better to bring users together, but the first step requires your help – we need to put faces to all those 3500+ names.

## Putting Faces to Names ##

How can you get to know someone if all you know is their name? The first step is for everyone to fill in a little bit about themselves in their user pages. Everyone gets a user page with their OWW account, and it is located at

(You can check out [mine]( for an example.) The User page is just like any other page on OWW – you can edit it by clicking on the ‘edit’ tab on the top of the page, and type in something about yourself. You can put up a picture of yourself, tell us where you are located, what you are working on, and what you are interested in in the same way. Just a few lines about yourself will make other users feel like there are people behind those user names, and we hope it will spark more discussions. Your user page is also a great place to try out editing the wiki, and if you are a new user, we have even created a mini-tutorial that is part of your user page – visit it and try it out.

Of course, filling in your user page is just the first step, and we have to hold our end of the bargain by coming up with better ideas to foster the OWW community. However, we can’t do much until people feel more at ease communicating with one another – so fill in your page!

As always, please leave a comment with any suggestions you might have, or if you are really interested, [join the Steering Committee](

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