Ashley Marie Quinn, Interaction Designer


BioGlyphics is a platform for creating visual lab protocols. It is designed so people can create a lab protocol using a simple drag and drop web app. It is language agnostic and is geared towards both the novice community lab student and the more experienced scientist creating and editing protocols.

The project is being implemented and iterated on through Genspace, a community bio-tech lab in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. It was presented at the iGem 2014 Giant Jamboree where it received recognition from scientists around the world.

Project Details

Completed: Ongoing |  Team: Genspace iGem Team | Project Tags: Prototyping, UI/UX Design, Science Education


Typical lab protocols are displayed like recipes, long lists of materials and step-by-step instructions are printed out by scientists and taped to lab benches for users to follow. Realizing this wasn’t the most user-friendly way to read protocols, especially for novices in the lab for the first time, my team and I set out to explore what we could to make it better.

Analogs like fritzing and Ikea assembly instructions became inspirations for how we began to attack the problem, breaking down instructions into bite-size visual representations.



We started the process of making Bioglyphics by hosting an event pairing illustrators and designers with representatives from Genspace. Together they sketched ideas for what they thought different equipment, processes and ingredients might look like graphically. It was a great exercise to not only start the visualization process but also to get insight from experts and non-experts simultaneously as both our target users.

(The gathering was inspired by an event I participated in hosted by the Noun Project where designers and climate change experts were paired together to come up with visual representations of non-corporate food growing methods, you can read more about that here.)

The goals of the project were:

Watch a video of the prototype below: