This is my latest obsession. DIY bio is a movement that started around 2008 with a core of young scientists that took advantage of the lapsing patents for various bio-technologies.
Now that manufacturers were no longer able to charge thousands of dollars for a piece of plastic that cost $100 to prototype and manufacture, amateurs could afford to make or buy modern microbiology equipment.
I am just now learning the basics of this very complex and fascinating field, but I’ve already been able to do as much as what I imagine graduate students were doing in 2000. Although none of the materials I play with are hazardous, they’re alive and can therefore mutate. I’ve gone to extremes to make sure that I read and follow every known bio-safety standard and practice that I can. Someday this hobby is going to be regulated and I want to be ready for that day.
I maintain an online lab notebook at http://openwetware.org/wiki/User:Jeff_Zahir
If you look at the web sites of professional and academic Bio labs they almost never have pictures of their empty lab. They have pictures of colleagues on group outings.
Because there isn’t a Makespace interested in DIY Bio in my area, I’ve had to go it alone. This is less than ideal since I can’t share costs; can’t collaborate among fellow enthusiasts and; my work isn’t open and visible to a wide audience of P.I.s and safety experts. By keeping my online notebook current and corresponding with others often, my hope is that I can partially mitigate these shortcomings.