Our human practice endeavors to reach all age groups was an attempt to create a sustainable impact on the Lubbock community by engaging with our future leaders and those teaching our future leaders. These activities can be viewed here. However, beyond just inspiring the public and inciting discussion about synthetic biology, our effort to establish the community’s first bio-makerspace has the potential to support the development of innovation, creativity, and curiosity for biology within the Lubbock community.
In general, those who are interested in wanting to learn or innovate in the field of biology are limited by their ability to gain access to the expensive lab equipment necessary to conduct proper biological investigations. The bio-makerspace at ULabs will be a wet lab dedicated to providing the community with the necessary equipment, training, and expertise to allow for members to explore the world of biology and biotechnology. The wet lab will provide lab space and mentorship for hobbyists, students, entrepreneurs, and bio-enthusiasts to conduct basic research, engage in product development, or simply to explore their interests.
Our mission by starting the first community wet lab in Lubbock was to provide the community with access to the infrastructure and lab training necessary to conduct biological investigations, to promote biological curiosity, education, and safety, and to educate the public about citizen science and synthetic biology. To carry out this mission we worked closely with the management team of a local community lab, known as ULabs, to develop a game plan for establishing a wet lab. We focused on four goals necessary for the development of the wet lab, which are detailed below.
Funding and Sustainability.
Lubbock Bio-Makerspace in the making!
- Find a space.
- During the time ULabs was undergoing renovation, they generously included the wet lab in the layout design and knocked down several walls to dedicate a space for future biohackers.
- After struggling to obtain any equipment through the university surplus services, we looked towards local biotechnology companies for potential donations. To our surprise Mr. DNA Labs, a local genome sequencing company, generously donated a Thermo Fisher Scientific CO2 water-jacketed incubator, a Sentry Air Systems laminar flow hood, two thermocyclers, and more, to the biohacking cause. Many thanks to Diana Dowd (Mrs. DNA) and Scot Dowd (Mr. DNA).
- As any community lab knows very well, funding is difficult to acquire in order to maintain a sustainable non-profit hackerspace. We have been working with the management team to understand what the public would be willing to pay for a membership fee to use a community wet lab facility. However, membership fees are not enough, thus we have also worked to develop a series of workshops and classes that can help attract community members for a small fee to help break even.
- Even with a space, fancy equipment, and a winning powerball lottery ticket, the wet lab is useless without active members from the community willing to make use of the wet lab and maintain the space for many years to come. Among our activities with ULabs, our wet lab promotion sparked interest among several community members. For example, Rusty, a local maker enthusiast, approached us wanting to use the lab to make a bioluminescent night light in the wet lab. It is interested community members such as Rusty who can act as a local champion necessary for a sustainable wet lab.
Ulabs Bio-Makerspace Proposal
A far more in depth game plan is outlined in a proposal that was made by request of ULabs to provide a document that details the future relationship between the TTU iGEM team and ULabs. This proposal can be viewed here and discusses events, projects, and future goals for the ULabs Bio-makerspace.
Many thanks to the ULabs Management Team -- Yousef, Leen, Saba, Saeed, and Samer!