2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

The Indie Science Revolution

#sxsw #indiesci

An increasing number of brave researchers are venturing out from the ivory towers of academia to pursue their own independent research. This new culture of indie science attracts investigators with the freedom to develop their ideas without the confines of politics and bureaucracy often found in academic departments. Escaping the urge to "publish or perish" also affords individuals the flexibility to tackle the toughest questions in science. Further, with the declining proportion of tenure-track positions available for professionally trained scientists, many highly qualified investigators are forced to leave their beloved wet lab bench-tops. Finally, our newly founded culture of independent science combines quality research with startup culture, affording more flexibility for upcoming scientists. We will explore the ins and outs for navigating the path to becoming a successful independent scientist.



Cindy Wu



Cindy co-founded a crowdfunding platform for research scientists called Microryza.
In a former life, Cindy used a videogame to re-engineer an enzyme treatment for anthrax bacteria and developed a two year love-hate relationship with dendritic cells.
Cindy also likes playing in the wilderness and enjoys teaching science to little kids, both things she would like to try again in the future.


Daniel Grushkin


Daniel Grushkin is a freelance journalist who covers the intersection of biology, culture and business. Hi blog Biohackers appears on PopSci.com. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, Businessweek, National Geographic Adventure, Popular Science, and Scientific American. In 2009, he co-founded Genspace, a community laboratory in New York City focused on biotech education and innovation. He is currently a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center.


Ethan Perlstein

Founder & CEO

Perlstein Lab

I’m a mission-driven independent scientist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over the last decade, I’ve developed and validated an evolutionary approach to drug discovery research. My main project is applying this approach to the 7,000 rare/orphan diseases that affect over 300 million people around the world. I received a B.A. in sociology from Columbia College in 2001. I received a Ph.D. from the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University in 2006. At the end of 2012 I completed a five-year independent postdoctoral fellowship at Princeton University, where I managed a $1MM budget and a small academic research group. I was born and raised in South Florida, and serious Twitter fiend (@eperlste)


Jacob Shiach


Brightwork CoResearch

Jacob is the founder of Brightwork CoResearch, an open and collaborative research space built to make scientific research and entrepreneurship more accessible for all.

In the lab, Jacob does research in an area called synthetic biology (SynBio), which draws from both engineering and biology to conceive and build biological components and systems that don’t already exist in nature, either by using “invented” molecules to mimic nature or by using “natural” molecules to form invented systems.

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