Portfolio of Shannon L. Johnson

Curious biologist, MIT Media Lab grad student, and arts & crafts enthusiast

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Shannon is a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab in the Synthetic Neurobiology group run by Dr. Ed Boyden. Her scientific interests range widely from directed evolutiondef and neurobiologydef to microfluidicsdef and hydrogelsdef. In her spare time, she loves engaging the community through mentoring and teaching biology, and volunteering with Street Bio and the Brown University Alumni Club of Boston. Various projects, science-related and otherwise, and videos are organized by media type in the navigation menu.

Always looking for new collaborations and interesting projects, feel free to send a message via the Contact link in the menu or connect on LinkedIn.

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Her undergraduate studies were in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Brown University, and her first practical introduction to cell biology was with Dr. Jason Aliotta and his peers who work on the use of extracellular vesiclesdef to initiate healing. Specifically, she worked on her thesis project investigating the reversal of liver injury after acetaminophendef overdose in mice.

Hippocampal neuron expressing GFPm (green fluorescent protein).From summer of 2015 to summer of 2017, she worked in the Neurobiology Department at the Harvard Medical School (HMS) with a sub-group of Dr. Michael Greenberg's lab on high-throughput drug discovery for compounds to improve memory and learning. In addition to running automated, high-throughput machinery for various fluorescent-based assays, she took on the pivotal role of managing the breeding colony to supply the lab with different disease models for study.

While learning how to culture mouse neurons and brain slices at HMS by day, Shannon advanced her understanding of Bioengineering and Nanotechnologies, specifically microfluidics, at the Harvard University Extension School in the evening. In pursuit of fabricating microfluidic devices for cell culture, she found herself invited to a meeting at Cambridge's community DIY bio space, Street Bio, in August 2016 where she met David Kong and Andreas Mershin.

DJ with Biota BeatsAt Street Bio Shannon helped lead the community bio team in the iGEM competition where they created Biota Beats, a hacked record player that translates microbiotadef-related information into music for all to enjoy and learn from. Since then, the project has taken on a life of its own as the global community of scientists and artists begin to engage with the sonification of the microrganismdef in and on the human body. This project has revitalized her passion for recombining science with art and has served as a terrific way to meet amazing diy bio hackers, community leaders, and the broader Cambridge community.

E. coli cellSimultaneously, at MIT's Center for Bits an Atoms (CBA) with Dr. Mershin, Shannon jumped into the world of microbiology. With guidance from students at the CBA and Media Lab, she engineered their team's bacteria for the Evolthon Challenge held by the Weizmann Institute. Then, she presented their strategy at the Genome Evolution Conference in Rehovot, Israel, a few months later. Having started out as a volunteer, Shannon was hired after a month to be a part-time technician and continue researching the directed evolution of bacteria, and later algae.

As of fall 2017, her academic focus shifts to the intersection of the immune system-nervous system and creating tools to facilitate understanding how these systems work together to maintain a healthy, stable body.