We are interesting in forging more effective links between science and society - so far much of this has happened through citizen science projects, which are designed to allow broader participation in scientific research through online games, apps, or field-projects. One alternative is to give people the chance to access a lab and learn to do the science themselves.
Biohackspaces, or community biology labs, are popping up globally – offering anyone the opportunity to learn and play with biology, without committing to a long, prescriptive, and expensive university course. We recently co-ran a workshop with the London Biohackspace to explore this area. You can read more about this in the blog post about the event.
It is becoming painfully apparent that a vast amount of knowledge is lost through poor communication between scientists are broader society, in both directions. The science is not translated adequately so that non-specialists can understand it, and there is no adequate route for non-scientists to highlight things that warrant research. We are spending quite a bit of time thinking about how these problems might be fixed!
Feedback from some of our biohacking yeastograms workshop participants:
"The workshop provides a space to help facilitate a cross pollination of ideas between those engaged art/science. I thought that the workshop was a success in this regard and was well pitched in terms of the level of ‘science’ being accessible to those without a science background without compromising the integrity of the experiment – it was great fun!"
"As an artist who works predominantly with alternative photographic process the Yeastogram workshop was of particular interest to me. I knew of other artists using similar methods but had never tried the process myself. As well as learning about the practical aspects it was also great to meet the other participants - a diverse array of scientists, artists and inquisitive folk - who probably would not have met otherwise. I feel this kind of gathering is important in building links between people and providing a space for exciting, creative projects to develop."
"It was a lovely workshop - great to meet lots of fellow art/science geeks in the Ryn!"
“Thanks for organising yesterday, really interesting, both in terms of the work and meeting people”
"I attended the bio-hacking lecture at Exeter University, and the followup workshop run by FoAM Kernow in the Jubilee Warehouse complex, both of which I found to be of huge benefit both professionally and socially. In October 2014 I moved from London to take up a practice-based PhD in Digital Craft at Falmouth University, funded by the AHRC. Despite being resident up at the Penryn campus I found it difficult to identify groups working across the art/science, Falmouth/Exeter divide. Attending the bio-hacking lecture was the moment this changed. Meeting Amber and Dave Griffiths and their expanded network, opened up a world of contacts and experiences to me. They operate an outward looking, inclusive organisation, which offers workshops, activities and research-based knowledge exchange. I'm so glad I found their work, it's made a huge difference to my PhD project in terms of my approach to collaboration. They have an empathetic, intelligent approach to working with people from all sorts of backgrounds, which makes them so enjoyable to work with."