Posts by: czechton
Yeastograms and Spreading the Word of Biohacking
A quick write up of stuff from a couple of weeks ago – better late than never…. One of the things I’ve been trying to achieve as a member of London Biohackspace for the past 6 months is getting academics to notice the DIYBio community. It was therefore a great opportunity, not to be missed, when Dr Amber Griffiths offered to arrange a seminar at the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute followed by a Yeastograms workshop at the FoAM Kernow studio in Falmouth, Cornwall. Before actually giving our seminar, Amber kindly gave us a tour of the brand new building on Exeter Uni’s Penryn campus which housed the Environment and Sustainability Institute – of which the founding principle is to bring researchers from different disciplines together to help tackle environmental issues. It was certainly interesting to see a physical product of the “interdisciplinarity” ethos that has been the buzzword circulating in the academic and R&D world for the past few years, and it did actually feel like something useful had been achieved with the EU’s £23m investment. In many ways though, it’s not particularly surprising to me – interdisciplinarity is what hackspaces (biohackspaces included) have always been about, and what makes them such interesting places to be involved with. In the hackspace world “interdisciplinarity” is just part and parcel of the expertise barter system that means a biologist can learn to weld in exchange for teaching aseptic technique to a metalworking expert. The results of these mental cross-pollinations can be seen in the numerous innovative projects on display in any hackspace. Our seminar, an intro to the DIYBio movement, was extremely well attended by the academics of the institute which was a rather heartening result. Hopefully the main take-away for them will be, firstly, that such a...
London Biohackspace does iGEM 2015!
Following on from last year’s successful London Biohackspace iGEM entry, London Biohackspace will once again be flying the flag for European DIYBio at the iGEM competition! We will be holding an iGEM team meeting and brainstorming session at 2pm on Sunday 8th March at the London Hackspace. And we need YOU. Yes you with the crazy ideas about genetically modifying microbes to make the future safer, wealthier, weirder or tastier. We want biologists, engineers, designers and anyone else interested in synthetic biology – professionals, students and amateurs all welcome alike. And pLease feel welcome to come even if you think you won’t have time to contribute much over the course of the project – your help coming up with ideas during the initial stages is still incredibly useful. So if you want to learn more about synthetic biology or iGEM and you’re interested in contributing to a project based around the engineering of life then please come along. Getting involved in this project will be a chance to: Learn the techniques of synthetic biology / genetic engineering (even if you currently know nothing about biology). Be part of a multidisciplinary team helping to show off the potential of community run laboratories. Fly out to Boston, USA and present the project at the iGEM 2015 “Giant Jamboree”. If you’re interested in getting involved in the London Biohackspace iGEM team in any way or would just like to come to the brainstorming session on 8th March then please submit your name and email address here.
Building a DIY Flow Hood
Anyone following me on twitter may have noticed I posted a few pictures of my progress during my build of a simple HEPA filter based laminar flow box (not sure if it’s actually considered a flow hood). The idea of this build being to greatly improve the reliability of the aseptic protocols in our lab. To come up with the design I did a lot of research and ended up finding some great resources on various psychedelic mushroom growing forums, a surprisingly good resource. The design that is popular and that I ended up going with (at least for mk I of the flow hood) is essentially just a box with a fan blowing in one side and the HEPA filter mounted on another side. While the construction side of things is therefore rather simple, the crucial aspect is actually achieving a laminar airflow by pairing a suitable fan with your chosen filter. I found that this guide by EvilMushroom666 explained the maths of figuring out what fan to pair with what filter really well. In summary, you need to source a fan that is capable of blowing enough air for the size of your filter at the given amount of pressure drop (back pressure) that your filter creates. So step 1 was to find a filter that was reasonably priced and would give a decently sized working area. Unfortunately for us Brits, it seems there are far more options in the US than in the UK for reasonably priced HEPA filters, however Jasun Filtration had the Ultima MPW78 18×24 for £100. Right. Filter sorted. Step 2 was where the inimitable EvilMushroom666’s guide lead the way for me and helped me to arrive at the necessary specification of the fan I would have to find. It seems that most people...
The iGEM kit has arrived!
Last week we got an exciting package through our door. After a long delay we finally received the iGEM 2014 biobrick distribution containing 1536 different pieces of lyophilised DNA. A few of these parts will be crucial for building JuicyPrint and will mean we can finally get going on the project. But the best part is that the rest of the 1500 or so biobricks will be a valuable resource for future projects in the lab. London Biohackspace is now in possession of the genes for luciferin, GFP, RFP and a host of non-fluorescent dyes, not to mention all the weird and wonderful things we have yet to look in to. A big thanks to the UCL Biochemical Engineering department for helping us fund our entry into iGEM this year and thereby giving us access to this fantastic resource.