We are Counter Culture Labs, a community of scientists, tinkerers, biotech professionals, hackers, and citizen scientists who have banded together to create an open community lab — a hackerspace for DIY biology and citizen science
Biology is the technology of the 21st century, and has the potential to affect our lives as much as or more than computers did in the 20th century. Our goal is to demystify and democratize this technology, putting tools into the hands of those who want to learn.
Counter Culture Labs was founded in 2013 and currently hosts a range of projects including Real Vegan Cheese (successful iGEM 2014 entrants in the newly established Community Labs track), Open Insulin and the Bay Area Applied Mycologists lab, all in a large lab established in the same warehouse-like space as hackerspace sudoroom. Both are situated in the Omni Commons, a sprawling building hosting a 'collective of collectives' in Oaklands Temescal district.
The lab currently comprises a Biosafety Level 1 (BSL-1) facility with a communal desk/drylab area and some specialist areas like the fermentation station, with all manner of ongoing experiments in fermented foods are ongoing, and the Bay Area Applied Mycologist lab where fungal samples are stored. CCL recently ran a crowdfunding campaign to equip a BSL-2 lab in a separate room and upgrade the main space, including purchasing kit like a -80C freezer. This successfully raised over $33,000!
The space is still being established and a major goal for the members is to expand electricity and water provision across the whole width of the space - one of the challenges of occupying and repurposing spaces that were not designed with lab work in mind! Progress is being made and they hope to be up and running soon with the additional equipment this will enable.
In the meantime the lab is fully equipped with most molecular biology equipment and a lot of secondhand kit in the process of being fixed and recommissioned.
Activities and Community
Before embarking on their new space and finding support, Counter Culture Labs held over 300 open meetups and free classes around Oakland. Meetups included:
- Making Winogradsky columns
- Basic genetic engineering courses
- Making a Ghost Heart
- Talks on the human gut microbiome, the Ebola crisis, orphan drug development via crowdfunding, and much more.