LegoScope began as a collaboration between University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and IDEO, to develop new ways to make microscopy and biology more accessible to children. The project was initiated in 2012 by Harrison Liu, Michael Sachs, and Reid Williams while they were PhD students at UCSF. The following year, Veronica Pessino, another UCSF PhD student, joined the team.
Harrison has always had a passion for science and engineering. After high school, he attended the University of Pennsylvania where he completed his Bachelors of Science in Bioengineering. He simultaneously completed Bachelors of Science in Economics from Wharton. Currently, he is in his fourth year as a Bioengineering PhD student at UCSF where he develops and builds high-throughput screening microscopes for drug discovery. Though this program is joint between UCSF and UC Berkeley, Harrison spends the majority of his time in San Francisco as a member of Dr. Bo Huang's lab.
Veronica's interest in research began in high school, when she spent several months working for various biology labs at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). In 2012, she earned a Bachelors of Science in Physics, Bachelors of Arts in Biology and minor in Italian Literature from UCSB. In Dr. Megan Valentine's lab, she completed her honors thesis studying the effects of cytoskeletal drugs on microtubule-motor protein interactions. Since then, she has been a PhD student at UCSF through the Biophysics program. She is member of Dr. Bo Huang's lab, where she uses super-resolution microscopes to investigate G-protein Coupled Receptor signaling pathways.
Mike has been a builder his whole life; early on for Broadway musical productions, later with proteins and cells as a Biomedical engineer at Boston University, and then as a scientist at UCSF. He received his Ph.D. studying epigenetic inheritance in the developing mammalian embryo (or in other words- what Darwin missed in his theory of evolution). As part of a University of California pilot program in 2013, he teamed up with Harrison and Reid to create an educational tool that hits on all the national S.T.E.M. education initiatives- the Legoscope! In addition to his passion for inventing and experiments, Mike has professional interests in understanding drivers of healthcare cost in the U.S. and solutions to better our standard of care while reducing spending. Mike works at Genentech as an advisor to R&D programs in South San Francisco.
Reid attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he earned his undergraduate and masters degrees in computer science and electrical engineering. As a masters student he worked in the MIT Media lab developing machine learning techniques and tools to allow a computer to learn basic architectural design rules. After MIT, Reid earned a PhD from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). At UCSF his research focused on using a synthetic biology approach to understand how individual cells sense, compute, and respond to their environment. He graduated in 2014 from Dr. Wendell Lim's lab. Reid has been working at IDEO since 2014.