Adult Activity: “StuckOnU Phone Swabbing”
StuckOnU is an experiment we’ve been conducting over two years now across various conferences and meetings where we swab participant’s phones and sequence the DNA “stuck” on your phone. We utilize the latest in next generation sequencing to do a full metagenomics profile of your phone so this lets us look at the microbiome, – or the community of microorganisms that live on your phone – predict what was the last thing you ate, predict your ancestry, and so much more. In this day and age, the phone has become a true extension of yourself, we carry it everywhere we go and we’ve found that everything we do and how we live leaves a molecular signature that we can pick up. You can see some of the results from past StuckOnU experiments at our website:, we’ve conducted it at the 2017 JPM Healthcare Conference, the 2017 World Government Summit, 2017 ABRF meeting, 2018 Milken Global Conference, and most recently at the 2018 Wisconsin BioForward and Association for Molecular Pathologists (AMP) meetings.

This work is conducted as part of the MetaSUB (Metagenomics and Metadesign of Subways and Ubran Biomes) consortium which was launched in 2015 after our publication of the NYC subway metagenome, PathoMap ( The MetaSUB consortium has grown to span over 75 cities across all 7 continents and we’ve collected over 20,000 samples over the past three years from subways, bus transit systems, and other urban setting samples. We have found that each city has a unique molecular signature whether it be from the organisms that make up the microbiome of the city’s surfaces or the presence of antimicrobial resistance genes. With our StuckOnU experiments we are interested in seeing if we can trace your phone’s molecular signature back to the molecular signature of your city, or in the case of participants at the MCNY Care Fair, to your subway station (, as well as to build improved baseline measures of human-associated metagenomes.

The StuckOnU booth will be located at the MCNY Care Fair on 11/18 where we will be swabbing up to the first 96 participants. The process takes about five minutes and includes a quick survey followed by swabbing your phone, a bonus for everyone is after we swab your phone we wipe it down so everyone leaves with a nice clean phone! The samples will then be sent to our lab for DNA extraction, processing, and sequencing. The results will be posted online in 3-4 weeks and sent to everyone. When you sign up to participate you will be given a code that is unique to your sample, so everything is de-identified and anonymous. At the end when the results are online you will be able to compare your results with everyone else at the meeting and then input your code to get your own personal results. No individual identifying information about you will be released.

Children Activity: “Explore the Invisible World Around You”
Children will be able to explore the invisible world of microbes and DNA in another way at the MCNY Care Fair. We will have a separate booth where children will be able to swab their hands and plate the bacteria for culturing. There will also be some pre-made cultures and slides made where they will be able to look under the microscope and learn about different bacteria and what makes up the micobiome. Children will also have the chance to translate their name into DNA code and make bracelets that spell out their name in DNA! Through these exercises children will be able to learn about the community of microorganisms that live in us, on us, and all around us.

Broadcast Game Plan
The survey where we collect metadata should be done off air to save some time, so on air would be getting their phone swabbed (1.5 min) with the reporter asking Daniela/Heba/Daniel about the study and what we are doing


Find out more information about the museum here:

For more information about Germ City: Microbes and the Metropolis, click here:

For more information about the Community Care Fair, click here