January 4, 2009
On January 3, nine of us* from the Seattle area met for our first DIYbio meeting. Over lunch, we introduced ourselves and our passions, discussed some potential projects, possible labspaces, safety concerns, public perception, future meetings, and a host of other DIYbio-related issues. We’re going to try to figure out a suitable place to host our wetlab exploits; I’ll be contacting a few people at the University of Washington this coming week about using their facilities. However, there was also a lot of interest about working on the computational and informatics side of things, which would be really cool. Scott suggested designing a novel protein, which would be a computationally-intense task, but UW has a supercluster that we might be able get some time on. Another great idea for a project was to implement additional safeguards into an organism (suicide genes, exotic food source, etc), which would be practical for both safety’s-sake and also for favorable public response. We didn’t go into details with these potential projects though, and I think we’ll flesh these ideas out more at the next meeting.
Considering there were people that couldn’t make the meeting and likely many more who will want to join in next time, we decided the interest-level warranted a DIYbio-Seattle group. Don’t freak out! I know that earlier there was some worry that city-specific groups would splinter the DIYbio community, but this Seattle group is for organizing meetings, lab availability, and other local issues that shouldn’t be spammed to 426 people (and counting). Especially with all the traffic DIYbio has seen in the past few weeks, nobody needs an extra 20 messages about directions to a meetup.
All in all, DIYbio Seattle’s first meeting was a huge success! Sandy Porter blogged about it over at Digital Bio, if you want to read more. As for our second meeting, it would be cool to follow the footsteps of those before us and do a DNA-extraction party in a few weeks. It’s safe, fun, requires alcohol, and would be a great way to get more people involved. So thanks to everybody who showed up, and to the rest of the worldwide DIYbio community. This group really is a great bunch of people, and it’s awesome meeting others excited about homebrew biology, amateur science, and spreading this love far and wide.
*James Yang, Scott Kerr, Bryan Bartley, Ingrid Swanson, Randy Hall, Max Berry, Sandy Porter, Todd Smith, and me.