Open Science Space Progress?

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Josiah Zayner

Nov 1, 2012, 1:45:52 PM11/1/12
Hey Everyone, I was wondering what the progress was on the open science space @ PS1? In the past few months I have been working hard collecting equipment and funding for an Open Science Space in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. I don't want to _compete_ against PS1.

I have a significant amount of scientific equipment:
UV-Vis spectrophotometer
PCR machines
Refrigerated Centrifuge
pH meter
a high quality free standing double-side multilevel lab bench
and more

I also have raised a couple thousands dollars to start renting a space but plan on waiting till after the New Year due to amount of time I am willing to invest at the moment. Though I plan on this place being a hackerspace of sorts I also plan on having demonstrations for kids &c. Classes taught by UChicago Professors and Ph.D.s (I am finishing up my Ph.D. at UChicago and already have people who have agreed).
I haven't quite decided on a membership model but am thinking of a free model using an application process and/or volunteering for access, which is why I don't think it will compete with PS1. Also, I think it is highly unlikely that I can/will donate everything to PS1 due to the fact that very few people I know in Hyde Park would be willing to travel to PS1 to use the space. I would try and make it out to PS1 but it is a haul from Hyde Park without a vehicle. PS1 seems to have done great being a hackerspace for people and I hope we can figure out a way to coexist.

I plan on doing a small kickstarter in the next month or so to raise some additional funds for other things I need.

Any input/criticism would be appreciated.

     Josiah Zayner


Nov 3, 2012, 2:57:46 PM11/3/12
Could you be more specific about the equiptment you have collected.

Most interested in the microscope, the uv vis spectro, and the hplc.


Josiah Zayner

Nov 3, 2012, 6:40:29 PM11/3/12
The UV-Vis is a Hitachi U2000? can do wavelengths from 180-1000nm or so. It is older and prints on thermal paper however I received the control codes to interface it to a computer using the RS232 port and have tested that this works using kismet but haven't finished writing a program to making it easier.

The HPLC I don't remember the brand off the top off my head and it is currently in storage so. It has two pumps and a UV detector and software.

The microscope is a Reichert Microstar IV with 10x 20x 50x 100x objectives. I have 5 sets of binnoculars for it and mirrored connections so 5 people can look at what is on the stage at the same time. However, a camera would be able to do this easier.


Nov 4, 2012, 1:41:56 AM11/4/12
Very nice. 

The question I didn't ask is what are you interested in using it all for?

What is your current area of interest?


Josiah Zayner

Nov 4, 2012, 11:07:58 AM11/4/12
Well, it will be used for the Open Lab space first and foremost.

I am interested in protein engineering, which is what my Ph.D. thesis is on. Random mutagenesis and selection are also things that are fairly cheap and easy to do.

Thanks for the interest.


Nov 4, 2012, 2:13:23 PM11/4/12
chi open science people, please speak up. I'm only speaking from my own personal perspective with a narrow knowledge of your interests. 

Well, it will be used for the Open Lab space first and foremost.


Since your intended space is focused on open science and it is in the UC area, I don't see a conflict with PS:1. There is no reason that Chicago can't  support many Hackerspaces. Detroit, NYC, San Mateo, and Milwaukee among other cities, support multiple Hackerspaces. There are two more Hackerspaces in the area, workshop88, established and SSH, in formation. There may be more that o don't know about. 

The open science group at ps:1 is in a state of relative stasis. A key member of the group recently passed away. 

Your involvement can be valuable. The open science group started as a separate organization at PS:1, with some PS:1 members and others. 

I've observed that there has been a very diffuse focus within chiopensci . Possibly because the people who showed up were interested in too broad a range of interests with specific projects in mind that the group could work together and be  involved in.  

There was very little progress made over the last year. There was a lot of talk, and very little actually worked on.
The talking may have served a purpose, but I didn't find it that interesting.    

The last meeting was attended by a quantum computational physicist who works with CERN data  and a person who wants to make a tissue stretcher. There are a couple of us interested in making tools and instruments.

Last meeting, we discussed making a PCR rig from scratch, retrofitting a microscope with a high power led light source and making a prism spectroscope. Finally there was some making rather than talking. 

As I recall, another active member is interested in psychological and biophysical-electrical interaction. 

I'm asking questions in order to find a good model for you to emulate. Each Hackerspace evolves based on the interest of it's members. 

Your answer An open science space is obvious. The equipment that you selected says biology or botany with a genetic or proteonomic approach, that implies computational biology,  some small equiptment building- sensors actuators, etc., not behavioral science or high temp physics or chemistry. 

You are missing a gel rigs of different types, uv light box, gel camera, staining equipt, sample prep gear, an electrophoresis power supply,   glassware, vacuum pumps and fixtures, an autoclave, and consumables, storage space for reagents, fume hood, and a positive laminar flow hood for sterile inoculation, Refrigeration, grinder, cell disruptors, heat/stirring plate, rotary platform, a small tube shaker, water still or deionizer or access to pure water. Also, Statistics and visualization software. That is a short list off the top of my head. 

Your personal background is research, obviously. That implies grant writing and producing papers, and some teaching, outreach and demonstration. 

 Would your space (people) be interested in more or less research, publishing, and exploration, or making  products, tools, kits, and mechanical things?

How much of what you (your collection of people) want to do, involves manufacturing, business, and money making? 

 exploring new areas of interest?
Education of non members?
Group oriented? 
Enabling individual researchers? 
Continuing to explore your research as a post doc?
Helping other people who are pre doc? 
Something else? 
Are you intending to have your space open 24/7, or fixed open times? 

I think that there is room for collaboration between ps1 and another space. We tools and fabrication, you lab work and science. You clean and sterile, us more dusty and gritty. 

That's my two cents. Let's see what develops. Please keep the discussion going. 


Josiah Zayner

Nov 4, 2012, 3:15:10 PM11/4/12
So I do have other equipment than what I just mentioned. I was just naming some main pieces of equipment. 
I have stuff for electrophoresis, stir plates, heated stir plates, other equipment, lots of consumables i.e. microcentrifuge tubes, mini prep columns, &c. &c. 

I definitely don't have everything though. And that is why I thought a small Kickstarter might be a good idea.

The primary goal of the space will be to be a place in which science can be learned and taught. This will allow members and participants to help progress science, technology and their lives through skills gained and equipment used for free. I hope that it will be a cross between a science/tech incubator and an outreach center. The funding model for the space revolves around electronics and lab equipment refurbishment and resale, which I have begin to generate income from. This includes sale and use of donated equipment from the University of Chicago and hopefully other Chicagoland universities in the future (labs donate to me old and broken equipment). I want to have 24/7 access eventually but obviously it would be difficult to make that available for everyone. Otherwise access would be arranged for certain times of day in the beginning, hypothetically something like 12pm-10pm. As I stated before instead of paying dues, members could teach classes, agree to watch over the place at certain times of day, help out with demonstrations/outreach, acquiring equipment and monetary donations, fixing and refurbishing equipment  &c. &c.

I don't plan on any manufacturing taking place but as you said I don't know what members will want/need or what the future holds. The approach of the lab will probably be more Biochemical/Biophysical initially as that is my training and also I have very close connections at UofC that would allow us use of extremely expensive equipment if needs be. NMR spectrometers, Circular Dichroism spectrometers and I might even be able to convince someone to shoot some crystals at an X-ray source if I was looking for a significant collaboration. I have experience with using the government super computing resources on XSEDE and hope to write a grant after I receive my Ph.D. for super computing time. I have experiencing setting up small computing clusters so even making a small local one wouldn't be out of the picture. Hopefully there would be publishing. Not against others ideas but I have found that many DIY Bio projects that people are interested in are very narrow and/or not realistically feasible. I think direction would help initially untrained people alot. This is not to say if someone came in and wanted to use the equipment for an idea they had I would stop them but I would definitely want them to have a concrete research plan. I am not proposing a fluorescent yogurt type of open lab space. Not that these things won't be taught in classes but I want to do higher level science and teach other people who are seriously interested to do it. 

Initial goals are:
  • Have two (free or cost of consumables?) college level courses, at least one offered every week(rotate?)
  • Achieve monthly sales and donations in excess of $1,500
  • Free equipment use, Wi-Fi, computer use
  • Have kids class/demonstration at least twice a month on weekends?
  • Be open 8-10 hours a day eventually to 24 hours
  • Schedule College faculty/Post Docs/industry to give talks at least once a month Wine and Science, donations?
  • Use resources/time to publish and to generate ideas to start businesses or make products(work with UChicago Students at Booth, New Venture Challenge &c.)

The business model might totally need to change but so far it has been working for me. Also, I have lots of people here at UofC interested/have offered to help so I am confident of at least initial success.

sheila miguez

Nov 5, 2012, 2:21:50 PM11/5/12
On Sun, Nov 4, 2012 at 1:13 PM, Slf <> wrote:
> chi open science people, please speak up. I'm only speaking from my own
> personal perspective with a narrow knowledge of your interests.
> [...]
> As I recall, another active member is interested in psychological and
> biophysical-electrical interaction.
> [...]

I'm interested in cognitive psychology and perhaps cognitive
neuroscience, but I have no background in neuroscience.

I'm skeptical that I can conduct novel research in cognitive
psychology without having mentors, which I don't, so I've been
focusing on finding open source projects where open science and
psychology intersect. There's an framework being developed called the
open science framework that is akin to a "github for scientists" which
is in beta and in use by a reproducibility project. It is laudable and
I've been waiting for the author to push his src up to his github
account. That might happen sometime this month. He's defending his
dissertation this month, and once that is done, he'll have more time
to spend on curating the code.

While waiting for that, I've been focused on promoting python to
people. Some friends and I ran a python workshop for beginners, and
we'll be doing another one.

Python education and open science overlap in a project called software
carpentry, which teaches scientists about best practices in software
engineering. I've been following their blog, and hope to be able to
volunteer time or code to it.

That's how I've been allocating my free time in the area of open science.

I haven't attended as many of the open science meetups as I have in
the past because my interests are someone different than everyone
else's, and it also seemed that no one needed unskilled labor to help
with any projects.


sheila miguez

Nov 5, 2012, 2:24:28 PM11/5/12
I'm very happy to see you starting a group in Hyde Park. We are hard
to get to on the north side, so you'll be a lot handier for people
over there.

On Thu, Nov 1, 2012 at 12:45 PM, Josiah Zayner
<> wrote:
> Hey Everyone, I was wondering what the progress was on the open science
> space @ PS1? In the past few months I have been working hard collecting
> equipment and funding for an Open Science Space in the Hyde Park
> neighborhood of Chicago. I don't want to _compete_ against PS1.



Nov 5, 2012, 3:56:15 PM11/5/12

I don't have much to add, but I agree that Chicago is big enough for two open science groups, especially if they are oriented toward different themes and are geographically separated. Josiah, I have an idea for an education/outreach-type project that might fit well with your vision and I would be happy to discuss it with you after the first of the year when you have your space. Will you keep us updated here on your progress toward building your space, or is there a blog/twitter etc. that we can watch?


On Thursday, November 1, 2012 12:45:52 PM UTC-5, Josiah Zayner wrote:
Hey Everyone, I was wondering what the progress was on the open science space @ PS1? In the past few months I have been working hard collecting equipment and funding for an Open Science Space in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. I don't want to _compete_ against PS1.


Josiah Zayner

Nov 6, 2012, 12:03:18 PM11/6/12
Thanks for the interest Gerry. The website is which is slowly updated due to the fact that I am just in the hustling phase and not in the actually science space phase. I will keep this list updated as I will probably post a Kickstarter in the next month or so. 

I am glad you all think that there can be an easy coexistence. 

Any input ideas are always welcome about the space.


sheila miguez

Nov 6, 2012, 12:30:30 PM11/6/12
Definitely keep the list updated. Btw, some people from the Hyde Park
area have visited ps:one for some open science meetups, and I will try
to remember everyone who has, and send them email about your plans.


Nov 6, 2012, 2:26:09 PM11/6/12

Hopefully, more people on this list will respond. 

I think your openSci would be advantageous to the science community around Chicago. From the look of it, I'd be interested in being a part of it too. 

I'll take you up on your offer to visit you Thursday or Friday  later this week. 

We should all have some kind of look see. I invite you to come up to ps1 to see where we are and what we are planning. 

As an aside, there is something that happened in Evanston a few years ago that I call the restaurant effect. 

In one street, there was one pub/restaurant the another restaurant bar that wanted to move into the neighborhood. The first pub fought tooth and nail with the city to stop the second bar from opening. Their fear was that they would lose business. The second bar prevailed and opened. 

The result was that several bars and restaurants opened up on the same street. The result was  that they all gained business. When more bars and restaurants that were on the street, the area became better known as am area  to go and eat with a better variety of atmospheres, food and drinks. 

By analogy, the more awareness there is in the city of open science, more people will be drawn into science and there will be a diversity of approaches that will be accessible to a wider variety of people across a larger geographic area. Collaboration between the groups and reduce the insulation prevalent in the Chicago area. 

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