Makerfaire Newcastle Update: A DIYbio Success Story

Folks from Makerfaire: Here’s a link to the Instructions for Making DIY Microbial Media (the homebrew petri dishes) and Isolating Bioluminescent Bacteria! Give them a read through, and let me know if you try them and what results you got! Take care!

I’ve just returned this evening from Makerfaire: Newcastle. I had an amazing time, and I was thoroughly inspired by the people I met there and the things they’re doing.

Among the amazing folks was Brian Degger of Transitlab and Lab In a Box, with whom I had been in touch for a long time prior to co-hosting the DIYbio table at the event. He’s a really creative guy, and even while we sat at the table he was hacking together a lab stirrer from sugru, a stirring bar from Micro-Science and a breadboard!

One item of interest we were able to demonstrate repeatedly was the DNA extraction from Kiwifruit, which was a big hit. We ran through microbiology as a hobby, which generated a lot of interest, especially the bioluminescent bacteria. There were a few people who wanted to try it themselves, including Jonty who suggested we share results and even strains! Collaborations and bioluminescent networking, I love it!

I met a guy who did a really awesome sounding project with bioluminescent algae, which only respond to disturbance. Apparently he hooked a large bed of these guys up to a speaker bank, and played music through the water to trigger waves of light in time with the music! Sounds amazing, hoping to talk more about it soon.

We were surprised by the level of interest people at the Faire had in our work and the DIYbio subject matter in general, it was really encouraging. Besides giving a presentation at Datarama and later again at Maker Faire, the BBC interviewed me on our work and on DIYbio as a hobby and as a citizen science necessity. Apparently they’ll be putting it online later this month.

All in all, I had an amazing and even transformative time at Maker Faire, and unless next year sees me on distant shores and unable to attend, I’ll be returning with glee. It was great meeting Brian and others in person and meeting new people besides, and I can’t wait to do it again.