Partnerlab Bootcamp: Day 1

Shaun MoshashaUncategorized

Today was a great first day! Although my plane came in a bit late, I arrived just in time for lunch. Pieter, the Biohack Academy leader, greeted me warmly and walked me through everything I missed, which was mostly just intros, administrative mumbo jumbo, and the logistics for the week. We then took a tour around the facility, which includes both a fabrication lab (3d printers, laser cutters, electronics work stations, etc.) and a biohacking wet lab.  The wet lab contained all of the standard equipment, including microscopes, incubators, sterile hoods, centrifuges and more, all of which were built by hand!

IMG_0572IMG_0573

IMG_0587

A leaf cutter ant exhibit showing the symbiosis of the ants with mycelium. The ants feed the mycelium leaves, and in turn the ants eat the mycelium.

The business model of their facility is very interesting. Only 25% of their expenses are funded by government grants and the rest of their revenue is made up from a combination of workshops and projects contracted by the government, companies, or other organizations.  It makes me wonder what proposals we could submit to which foundations to start bringing in revenue. One idea that comes to mind is soliciting a grant to NASA to do research on microbes that could terraform Mars!

We also took a field trip today to Micropia – the world’s only museum dedicated to microbes!  It was fascinating to walk through and learn about many many different types of microbes and the niche they occupy in the ecosystem.  Also, the museum gave me some great ideas for different projects, workshops, and exhibits we could include in COBL.  Some examples include:

That's right. It's a wall of poop.

That’s right. It’s a wall of poop.

  • Making structures from Mycelium (mushrooms)
  • Making biodiesels
  • Making lights and O2 from Algae
  • Conducting competition studies between bacteria

Interestingly enough, none of the workshops that WAAG conducts include genetic modification of any time. The big takeaway point for me is that Biohacking is much more than just genetic manipulation. Biohacking is a term that includes bio art, bioinformatics, agriculture and materials production, architecture, hardware and software development, synthetic biology, etc. If you have any other categories to include please comment below!  This realization, however, excites me because it opens up whole realms of possibilities for us to explore!

I’ve also introduced the Open Science Framework to the group and they seem eager to jump into it and start using it as their base!

Lastly, there seems to be a couple key pieces of equipment that we need in order to start building our equipment. If you know how to get your hands on any of these or know anyone that would be willing to donate them, please let me know!

  • Laser cutter
  • 3d printer
  • Soldering iron

As always, please get in touch with me via info@openbiolabs.org or shaun.moshasha@gmail.com if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or you just want to chat!

You stay classy, C-villiego.

Shaun