Lincoln Laboratory, operated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is at the forefront of cutting-edge technologies. In science, the ability to discover and share knowledge within a community is critical to the growth and success of an emerging field. Synthetic biologist David Sun Kong at Lincoln Laboratory worked with Bocoup to design a collaborative platform for academics, researchers and students to learn and contribute to open source hardware for microfluidic devices.
Scaling Scientific Collaboration
With the introduction of new 3D printing technologies in silicon, glass, and polymers, Dr. Kong and his team at Lincoln Laboratory recognized the potential 3D printing presented to revolutionize the open source hardware landscape in the field of microfluidics. Within the larger synthetic biology discipline, which aims to apply engineering concepts to the study of biology, microfluidics is concerned with designing and creating systems in which small volumes of fluids are processed in experiments. Some impactful developments include “lab-on-a-chip” technologies that enable researchers to design systems for automating lab procedures such as chemical reactions and DNA analytics.
Dr. Kong saw that the international synthetic biology research and DIY science community could benefit greatly from a way for people to both learn and contribute to open source hardware for microfluidic devices. In order to grow and increase the impact of microfluidics as a field, the community would need a web platform that could be accessed from anywhere in the world where researchers from institutions and DIY communities alike could share ideas, projects, and designs for microfluidic devices and engage in conversation with one another. Moreover, Dr. Kong envisioned supporting communities to create devices that could be 3D printed, assembled, and used in developing countries. He reached out to Bocoup to be a partner in applying open source concepts to advance scientific research in academia and beyond.
In consultation with Dr. Kong, the Bocoup team chose WordPress as the best platform for ease-of-use in administering and creating content. Bocoup designed, scoped, project-managed, and implemented a community-oriented site using WordPress as a platform incorporating the following design services and development features:
User Experience and Responsive Web Design Services
- Defined product vision & user scenarios and use cases
- Determined OS, browser, and device requirements
- Enabled upload, device display & search
- Built-in support for user testing and feedback
- Social platform for community users to share and “like” projects
- Analytics for engagement
- Incorporation of existing content
- Well organized and well documented code
Together, we created an online space for open source wetware DIY-communities and academic researchers to collaborate on cutting-edge technology that otherwise would be primarily locked away in high end labs. Our work on the platform will be cited in the interdisciplinary scientific journal Nature (include details about date and links). The collaboration, by increasing accessibility of projects, technology, and knowledge, supports the democratization of technology by fostering community projects such as the street bio movement, which aims to provide communities with access to labs, equipment, and knowledge to participate in and shape scientific progress.
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