Who I am
An experienced molecular biologist with keen interest in genomic integrity, a big picture concept for public health that basically includes all the molecular genetic details in cells, I was born in New York, but had the opportunity to live in many wonderful places. In about 2006, I became aware how the so many environmental factors and even things *we* choose to do can impact genomic integrity. While repair of damage does happen in cells, sometimes the end result is new mutations, that can also affect future generations. Therefore, awareness and prevention are of great interest for health. I founded the non-profit group AGiR! Action for Genomic integrity through Research! to provide information and promote research into these issues. I am also very interested in measuring amounts and effects of environmental pollutants and has worked with arsenic biosensors in the UNIL fundamental microbiology department. In fact the latter experience is the reason I became introduced to Hackuarium, in which I have become more implicated over the last years... In addition to AGiR! projects, I would like to help bring citizen science projects forward especially, and helped Hammerdirt in the Montreux Clean Beach Project with microbiological monitoring over eight weeks during two consecutive summers. An urban garden project with pea plants and symbiotic bacteria is also finishing its second year now.
Since last spring (2019), I was 'naturalised' as a Swiss citizen, but am still working on using more French! (désolées, ami/es francophones... ça peut arriver avec ton aide?! :)
More information about my career path can be found in LinkedIn.
Why I love Hackuarium
The DIT-Research possibilities (Do-It-Together!) synergise at Hackuarium, and the vibrant community is amazing!
How to contact me
Email me at: rachel(at)hackuarium(dot)ch
What I am currently working on
At the end of a 6-month sabbatical after finishing a project management position at a private company, I had six weeks to travel in Australia, and met with both Sydney and Melbourne biohackers early in 2017. Since then, I have done workshops from London (with Science has no Borders), to Shenzhen (at GOSH2018), Bilbao (BBK Open Science Festival), and of course at our new coop site in Ecublens, learning all the time!
I hope the two AGiR! projects at Hackuarium, the cheek cell assays for DNA damage, and the moss fauna studies, will be beta-tested all over the world for big data possibilities about environmental risks to genomic integrity and biodiversity on our planet!
The push for citizen science with partners Hammerdirt for summertime microbial analyses of lake water around Montreux has been publicly available throughout those studies, and the latest news is a draft of our manuscript under review at a citizen science journal. Our urban garden tests may require more channeling of our inner Gregor Mendel, however, with weather a great problem in the second season attempted.
I fully hope to return to cutting-edge molecular studies in our new lab space, and ideally aim to do a high-resolution imaging project of sub-nuclear architecture in human cells. An epifluorescence build of the OpenFlexure microscope is our current 'DIT Research' aim to enable both comet assay imaging and this goal, hopefully.
Helping others to fulfil their projects at Hackuarium is very rewarding, but working to make this all sustainable is still a great challenge.
Declaration of further interests
Founder and CSO of AGiR! Action for Genomic integrity through Research!, a non-profit association for public health, meant to provide information and promote research on the dynamic processes happening in all of our cells. Genomic integrity is about much more than just DNA sequences, and many things we do regularly can affect it, potentially in a very negative fashion, also impacting the environment and future generations.
Mother of two teenage daughters, book, art and music lover, and keen amateur volleyball player (Echandens team)!