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CounterCultureLabs7 karma

Yes! In fact we have had a hands on class series that taught Genetic Engineering 101, which we plan to repeat in our new (much larger) location once we have a few upgrades in place to make the work area more sterile. We also just had a class on introduction to mushroom identification using microscopy and we have several upcoming intro classes listed on our meetup

CounterCultureLabs5 karma

Haha! Well when we had people in our lab working on improvements to the ebola suits used in Africa (to make them tolerable to wear in the high heat), even though we never had anything to do with the actual ebola, I think it occurred to most of us how it might look to someone just walking in from the street :)

CounterCultureLabs4 karma

Good question! You mentioned some of the issues. Funding definitely has a big say in what gets researched, both in industry and academia.

From industry we also have a lack of openness, both in sharing information and in preventing others from using the discoveries that they do share.

From academia we get more open sharing, but many of the scientific journals are still very expensive, so realistically most people cannot access even the results of government-funded research.

That's just the end result of research. If you want to learn how research happens, the process not just the end result, then academia is not very open either. If you go even further and want to not just understand but participate in science or engineering within the realm of biology then there are very few options. Some places offer lab space for rent to anyone interested, but those places are usually for start-ups and people who already have the education and experience. We are trying to all aspects of science and engineering (with a focus on biology) accessible to anyone, with as small a barrier to entry as is feasible and safe. This includes access to education, both theoretical and hands-on, and access to a well-stocked lab with skilled people to help and group projects where anyone can participate.

CounterCultureLabs3 karma

Security is an interesting question. As opposed to safety it usually implies some level of maliciousness. We currently do not allow non-food-safe projects to take place in our lab without approval from our biosafety officer. We are using this kickstarter campaign to get our lab to a place where we can do work at biosafety level 1 according to the CDC guidelines, and do not currently allow work above BSL-1, which excludes most things with any serious security implications. None of what we are currently working with is especially difficult to replicate in your own home.

CounterCultureLabs3 karma

Those are the two main issues. A community lab gives people the freedom to work on whatever they want, not just what the boss approves because it will be economically feasible. Most people who are interested in doing science do not work at a job which lets them do exactly what they want do be working on at all times.