Our tour of hackerspaces lead us now to the Eastern North America: the biohacking community Bricobio in Montreal, Quebec. Kevin Chen, co-founder of this great group, answered to our few questions and gave us an insight in the biohacker mindset.
Could you introduce yourself?
While studying at Queen’s University from 09-13, I worked on their 2011 iGEM team and lead their 2012 team. After graduating in 2013, I spent the summer as a Resident Biohacker with Synbiota. At the end of that summer, I co-founded Bricobio, Montreal’s DIYbio community. And I started a Master’s in structural biology at McGill University. After 6 months doing workshops and building up Bricobio, a few us put an application in for the Synbio Axlr8r and are now spending the summer in Cork, Ireland. The company we formed is called Hyasynth Biologicals and we’re working on biosynthesis in yeast.
What does hacking represent for you?
I am engaged in biohacking as I got a better idea of what it meant to other people, and what hacker culture/perspective is all about. And, my definition is subject to change with everyone that I talk to. For me, biohacking is doing biology with the extra curiousity, critique, passion, tinkering and problem solving perspective of a common hacker. Biologists work with a similar mindset all the time, but most don’t consider themselves hackers. I think that the desire/interest in biology outside of industry/institutions, in a non-traditional way, and questioning/critiquing the current state/institutions/industry of biology is what separates regular biologists from biohackers. And, ultimately, it’s all about believing in people and empowering them.
What do you expect from a hackerspace?
I expect that a biohackerspace will attract people with a similar mindset as my own. This includes people who are interested in finding ways to get new equipment/materials/
>> Picture: Dailylaurel (CC)