Designing Video Games Using Plant Science

At the Carnegie Institution for Science under the Department of Plant Biology, we believe in the importance of educating the general public about plant science. Rather than using only traditional means of education, we have taken it upon ourselves to try something new and fresh: developing video games with the goal of teaching about plant biology. From learning about plant transformation to CRISPR to an ordinary daily routine of a scientist, our games will invite you into the fascinating realm of plant science where you can actively enjoy yourself as you learn.

We are currently designing the following video game. Check back later to see the completed version!

"I'm a Plant Scientist"
In our newest game, "I'm a Plant Scientist," you can explore the world of a plant biology intern at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Complete engaging tasks and experiments as you travel the institution grounds, meeting other researchers and broadening your knowledge of plant science.

Meet the Team

Yunru Peng (Lab Technician, Moi Lab)
Team Coordinator, Programming, Design
I graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2019 with a BSc in microbial biology and an emphasis in computational genomics. I am interested in genetics and genomics. During my undergraduate, I used a novel CRISPR/Cas9 multiplex editing technique to modify soybean genome, aiming to enhance the plant's immunity. I also worked in projects related to microbial and zebrafish genetics. I think of genetics as a unifying lens to examine the rich biodiversity and evolutionary history on Earth. At Moi Lab, I will examine the genomes of evolving populations and develop CRISPR tools for polygenic editing. Outside of research, I like books, games, and the outdoors.

Justin Krupp (Research Assistant, Rhee Lab)
Programming, Music, Design
I graduated from UCSC with a bachelor's in bioinformatics back in June, 2019. While I was in school, I worked part-time for the UCSC Genomics Institute, developing the Human Cell Atlas data storage system. I wrote tests, implemented continuous integration infrastructure into a few repositories, and designed coding examples to show consumers how to use the Human Cell Atlas API. Outside of work, I was involved in several extracurricular activities, including the UCSC Bioinformatics Club (which I co-founded along with several other classmates). The club turned out to be a smashing success, and we were able to both spread interest in the field as well as help our underclassmen excel in their studies.

Sebastian Toro Arana (Graduate Student, Moi Lab)
Programming, Music
Sebastian is interested in using computational tools and engineering principles to study the underlying mechanisms of plant stress resistance, immunity and plant-microbe-environment interactions. His goal is to use new technologies to help tackle the challenges of climate change and food security. As an undergraduate and research technician at MIT, he worked on exploring brain decision making systems using computational analysis tools and genetic engineering but recently he has decided to work on more pressing global problems. On a more personal note, he loves enjoying nature and music.

Bo Xue, Rhee Lab (Research Assistant, Rhee Lab)
I graduated in 2015 from University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a Master's degree in Computer Science focusing on data mining and recommender systems. Discovering new information from data has always been interesting to me and after working at the Chinese Academy of Science on systematic characterization of mice miRNA expression, I developed a fondness for bioinformatics. Since joining Sue Rhee's lab in 2015, I have been working on many interesting project, mainly the Plant Metabolic Network. Which includes developing computational pipelines and visualization of our databases. If I'm not working, you'll probably find me trying to catch a movie. I love the theater going experience.

Jason Thomas (Postdoctoral Fellow, Rhee Lab)
My name is Jason Thomas, and I am from  Omaha Nebraska. I went to the University  of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated with a Degree in Biological Systems Engineering. I then went to earn a Ph.D. in Plant Biological Sciences University of Minnesota Twin Cities where I worked on improving floral nectar production in the biofuel cover crop field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense). As a post doctoral researcher in the Rhee lab I’ll work on a variety of molecular and computation plant biology projects. When not in the lab I may be playing ultimate frisbee, dodgeball, piano or guitar. I am also fond of learning languages, identifying plants, and bad puns.

William Dwyer, Rhee Lab (Research Assistant, Rhee Lab)
My name is Will, I am a 2020 graduate of Vassar College (in New York) where I received a B.A. in Biochemistry with a secondary concentration in sociology. I grew up in France, near Versailles, but my family is originally from Belgium, Japan, and Boston. I was first introduced to research as an undergraduate student - working in chemistry and genetics labs - and during a summer fellowship at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City, where I investigated a novel therapy for a rare genetic disorder. After my experiences in the biomedical world, my interests shifted towards plant biology as I grew increasingly concerned over the effects of impending climate changes and developed an appreciation for kingdom Plantae. Outside of work, I like to read novels about dystopian futures and rewatch Broad City episodes for the tenth time - I'm also a recently retired collegiate track/XC runner who still enjoys a good trail run!