Still in the prolific Oakland, California. With one foot in Sudoroom and the other in Counter Culture Labs at least, Craig Rouskey met us to share his experience in taking advantage of the richnesses from diverse communities. This happy revolutionary biohacker is telling us a little more about him and biohacking.
Could you introduce yourself?
I am a biohacker, DIY molecular cloning teacher, community organizer, and musician. I have my Master of Science degree in Molecular Biology, Microbiology, and Biochemistry with a concentration in Immunology. I have worked internationally for over 10 years in biotechnology and medicine – from large companies like Novartis to small startups like the Immunity Project – my passion lies in creating therapies for the world and finding novel ways to bring those therapies to people. I currently work as the Principal Scientist at the Immunity Project, and am co-founder of the GETit Project. Both of these projects are creating novel strategies for dealing with common diseases and finding ways to deliver these treatments to all people. The community organizer in me knows that when people come together, solutions to common problems are limitless.
What does hacking represent for you?
Biohacking is not really new. Seeking answers to questions and finding solutions to problems we see in the world have always been at the heart of true scientific innovation. I am engaged in biohacking because I am a scientist. I am a scientist because, well, I was born a scientist.
The activist in me is happy to participate in the biohacker community because I believe that scientists to date haven’t fully actualized our potential to change the world. I think that we’ve been held back by the institutions that seek to define science and education.
I believe in direct democratic participation in research. I want my fellow citizens to understand, fund and participate in the work I do as it directly benefits them. I believe we can change the scientific paradigm that has withheld resources from those seeking to find solutions to some of our most difficult research challenges. In the case of diseases like HIV or Gonorrhea – where funding has gone to single-minded concepts of therapy or vaccination – this innovation is crucial and can enhance the rate at which remedies are understood and developed. I believe in the biohacker revolution!
What do you expect from a hackerspace?
For me to do my work in a biohackerspace, I need the following:
(1) The opportunity to show up as myself – I need to know that I am in a safe space. I need to know that I’m in a space that values human diversity – physical, mental and otherwise.
(2) The molecular immunologist in me needs a clean space. That means that while the hackerspace is open to the public at large, space to perform sterile science must exist within that space.
(3) Community. There is nothing better than working out the details of an experiment and having a community to turn to to discuss results, hurdles, and other scientific outcomes.
For me, if these requirements are met, I’m a happy biohacker.
>> Picture: Dailylaurel (CC)