Build My Lab: The Tekla Labs Approach to Increasing Global Science Capacity

Saturday, 15 February 2014
Columbus KL (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Julea Vlassakis , University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Scientific research and technological innovation are critical for sustainable economic growth in resource-limited settings, but commercial laboratory equipment is prohibitively expensive. Similarly, educators around the world cannot afford to purchase basic laboratory equipment that would enhance their ability to bring science to life in their classrooms. Tekla Labs, a UC Berkeley/UCSF-based student organization, has started an online community for sharing designs to build reliable, low-cost laboratory equipment. Our goal is to empower scientists and educators to build their own research infrastructure using local and repurposed supplies.

Our talk will describe our efforts to engage and connect the DIY community with scientists and educators through our online community and competitions, such as our recent BuildMyLab design contest. We will also discuss the challenges of mediating international partnerships, with examples from our current efforts to perform test builds of our designs with collaborators in need worldwide. Finally, we will share our vision for the future of DIY laboratory equipment as an enabler for technological and economic development in resource-poor settings, and for improved immersive scientific education around the world.