The Founding of DIY Bio by Maria Li and Gert Grobler at MakerBay

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In 2016, an unassuming young woman of small stature started to use MakerBay in Yau Tong. Through an informal discussion, we learned that this young member was a biologist by training and we saw her train herself in woodworking, laser cutting, and electronics manufacturing. Seeing her persistence and creating amazing things, we fell in love with her - and decided to hire her. Initially we did not really have a clear position for Maria, but quickly we found she could pretty much learning anything at great speed and with an unmatched enthousiasm.

After a few weeks of officially working together, we (Cesar, Fiona and Abbie) wanted to support the enormous appetite of Maria for experimenting, learning and sharing and we put aside a section of MakerBay to host a biology lab. And there, Maria and her newly found friends created DIYBIO! Hong Kong first biohacker space. DIYBIO would go on to become one of MakerBay’s pride and joy for the following years until Gert left to teach in Shenzhen and Maria started a Master in Biodesign at Central Saint Mrtins in London, University of the Arts.

Below, is a copy-paste from Maria’s website:

DIYBIO Hong Kong

Since I participated in the iGEM, I was greatly inspired by the philosophy of open science. I think scientific research, data and dissemination should be accessible to all levels of an inquiring society, amateur or professional. I believe allowing more people to bring their own skillsets to biological sciencetific research can bring up more innovations and accelerate the whole research process. Thus I would like to pursue my career in educating community about open science and biology.

It combines my passion of doing science and education.

Founding a startup that provides science education and a space for community people to do science research has long been my dream. In 2016, I met Gert, a like-minded and passionate Biologist, to co-found a community Bio Lab in Hong Kong. DIYBIO HK thus provides a great platform for me to do biotech research in a flexible way as well as pursuing my passion in educating others about biological science and empowering them with scientific knowledge to drive for a sustainable future.

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To promote biological science literacy, we organise talks, workshops and initiate citizen science project.

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Let's Talk Bio! a public biology talk series

To promote biological science literacy, we organise free talks to the public. We aim to facilitate conversation between scientists and people from different fields such as designers, artists, engineers, makers, general publics.

We have invited experts from various research fields to speak about the latest development on various topics including synthetic biology, iGEM, DNA barcoding, Hong Kong marine biodiversity, forensic science, skin microbiome and the relationship with environment, Bioart, and application of radioactivity in medicine etc.

Workshops

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Apart from organising public talks, we also organise hands-on workshops to educate people about biological science. All are welcome to join. The main point here is to facilitate inter-disciplinary exchange. Here, we learn from each other, and we construct knowledge together.

Workshops cover topics including microbiology, molecular biology, DNA barcoding, insect pinning, formicarium making, biomaterials, microbial fuel cell, mead brewing, yogurt and cheese making, DIY mobile microscope, strawberry DNA extraction, Slime Mold cultivation, molecular gastronomy etc.

Bug Hunt Hong Kong a citizen science project

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Hong Kong has a large biodiversity, with insects comprising a large part of the biodiversity. Yet most people in Hong Kong are disconnected to nature. Therefore, we initiate the "Bug Hunt Hong Kong" citizen science project to build a public accessible collection of insects in Hong Kong that can be used to educate the public about Hong Kong’s insect biodiversity. We also want to generate DNA barcodes of the different insects in the collection in order to build a DNA barcode library of Hong Kong insects and to contribute to the international barcode of life initiative.

It has been phenomenal to support Hong Kong Biohacking community through the years - the friendships are still there even if the space has been disbanded.

DIYBIO HK Website: http://diybiohk.org/

Original Maria Li website content:

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