Steven Hernacki Associate Editor GEN

15 Gift Picks for Your Lab or Home This Season

Do you have a life science researcher or bio-scientist in your life? Do you have any idea what to give her or him this holiday season? Yes, that Amazon gift card is temping; but why not give the lab rat in your life a fun, science gift this year?

This list, created by the staff here at GEN, is chock-full of geeky gifts, biotech bounty, and gift therapy for your gene therapists. May all your innovations be Teslas, and all your profits be Edisons!

1. Build-On Brick Mug ($10–$15)


And you thought LEGOs® were just for kids and college application essays? With this heat-proof mug, you can customize your coffee every day of the week! Snap it full of your favorite character Minifigures. Make a colorful design based on your favorite sports team. Connect LEGO RC-components and turn your coffee into an off-road vehicle. Or just stick a bunch of pens and pencils in it. Available in Black, Red, and Metallic Gold. Warning: this mug is not microwaveable.

2. Science Image Throw Pillow ($43)


Whether cell biology is your bag (literally—they have cells on bags) or you just happen to appreciate the little critters that make your beer foamy, you will love these printable nature and science images. Science Source Images has dozens of image collections, with hundreds of images which can be printed on-demand. Collections include: microbes, autumn leaves, x-rays, insects, space exploration, water bears (so cute and so immortal!), and more. These images can be printed onto bags, throw pillows, t-shirts, smart phone cases, and paper (i.e., prints).

3. Geek-inspired Smart Phone Case ($20–$35)


Is your smart phone … naked?! Well, fear not! The designers at Redbubble have literarily thousands of different designs to choose from. They’ve got everything from Steampunk to Zelda, from Hitchhikers’ to Star Trek, and from Art Deco to Art…istic? Redbubble is a collective marketplace for independent makers, creators, and artists to promote and sell their work (think Etsy plus Amazon). In addition to smart phone cases, they have clothing, stickers, prints, pillows, mugs, greeting cards, notebooks, bags, and much more. This site could easily be one-stop-shopping this holiday season.

4. Back to the Future Flux Capacitor Wristwatch ($50)


For the scientist in your life who has every cool gadget, give him/her the greatest gift of all—more time. This functioning time machine displays the date on the bottom, while the pattern of lights on the flux capacitor show the time on-demand. For example: 6 lights, then 4 lights, then 2 lights mean that it’s 6:42. This battery-powered (“this sucker’s electrical!”) time machine is available exclusively through ThinkGeek, a fantastic e-shop for geeks of all ages.

5. Bill Nye “The Science Guy” Plush ($20)


Whether the melodic refrain of “Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!” still rings in your ears or you’re just a fan or Dancing with the Stars, this cute plush of the iconic ambassador of science is perfect for your cubicle or sofa. Officially endorsed by Bill Nye himself, this limited edition, plush figure stands 10-inches tall. It is exclusively available from the I Love Science store.

6. Handbag of Holding ($50–$65)


For the D&D-player who also has a day-job, this stylish handbag has 15 different compartments to hold all your loot from the last random encounter. It features a shoulder strap as well as sturdy handholds. Can hold up to a 12” x 9” tablet, a 16” laptop, 2 small water bottles (in side pockets), and much more. Caution: Not actually bigger on the inside, do not attempt to hold dragon skull, great axe, or spare set of full plate armor. Available in Taupe, Dragonscale, or Black (Deluxe) (different web pages).

7. IFLScience 3Doodler Pen 2.0 ($100)


Have you ever thought of getting a 3D-printer, but couldn’t get past the pricetag? Well, with a 3Doodler Pen, 3D-printing is as easy as drawing. And while biocompatible organs and nanofilters are a bit out of reach, molecule models and tiny, cubicle companions are definite 3D possibilities. This starter kit comes with a pen, quick-start guide, instruction manual, power adapter, two packs of plastic strands, and cleaning and adjustment tools.

8. Dino Sphere ($60)


Did you have a lava lamp in college? Have you owned or wanted a terrarium? Why not have both? This sealed-environment aquasphere is filled with Dinoflagellates, a type of phytoplankton that produces bioluminescence. Requiring no added food, it needs a only a balance of moderate light and moderate darkness to glow in the dark.

9. Microscope Necktie ($36)


Looking for that perfect tie that says, “I’m worth a closer look—perhaps at 10x magnification?” Then look no further. This microscope print necktie comes in a variety of inks and colors, and is available in Narrow, Standard, and XL sizes.

10. DNA Linen Weave Pashmina Scarf ($44)


Wrap up the one you love with the chain that binds us all together. This vegan-safe, linen scarf comes in several background colors and in either silver or black ink. The scarf measures 74” x 28”, with three-inch tassels on either end.

11. Chemist’s Spice Rack ($50)


Whether you’re a fan of molecular gastronomy or just like molecules and the occasional gastropub, this is your spice rack. This set of nine test tubes and three flasks includes a metal holding rack and plenty of stickers for you to customize your favorite spices. Please note that “Sa” stands for “Salt,” instead of the more accurate “NaCl”. 

12. Brain Specimen Coasters ($20)


“Pardon me, I believe you have placed your Earl Grey tea on my amygdala.”

“Oh, I’m dreadfully sorry. But seeing as you have rested your cappuccino upon my hippocampus, I thought it only fair.”

If this conversation sounds like something you would like to see inserted into your next get-together, then pick up a set of 10 brain specimen coasters. Some people have coffee on the brain, others take a more literal approach.

13. Jewel Beetle Earrings ($15)


Give the gift that says, “You bug me! But in a good way!” This pair of earrings is made from the actual wings of the Sternocera aequisignata. This wood-boring insect is a native of Thailand, and features a metallic exoskeleton in shades of green and blue. The practice of including beautiful insect parts in jewelry has a long history amongst the upper-class in several countries in Asia.

14. Proof: The Science of Booze ($11)


Humans have been perfecting alcohol production for ten thousand years, but scientists are just starting to distill the chemical reactions behind the perfect buzz. In a spirited tour across continents and cultures, Adam Rogers takes us from bourbon country to the world’s top gene-sequencing labs, introducing us to the bars, barflies, and evolving science at the heart of boozy technology. He chases the physics, biology, chemistry, and metallurgy that produce alcohol, and the psychology and neurobiology that make us want it. If you’ve ever wondered how your drink arrived in your glass, or what it will do to you, Proof makes an unparalleled drinking companion.

15. Petri Dish Dipping Bowls ($20)


If you’re looking for the perfect accompaniment to that bottle of garlic and kale infused olive oil, and the tiny bottle of balsamic vinegar from your last trip overseas, then check out these lab chic dipping bowls. The borosilicate petri dishes have the molecular structures for both oil and vinegar printed on the base. Also great for confusing your guests at parties: is that bleu cheese or did you bring your work home again?

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