▸ Research 2: Biology Cloud Experimentation Labs

 

Biology cloud experimentation labs, akin to the cloud computation paradigm, promise collaborative time-sharing of and lowered access barriers to life-science instruments for academia, industry, and education. We for the first time conceptualized and implemented asynchronous and synchronous biology cloud labs for interactive experimentation. Our synchronous cloud lab enables millions of Euglena phototaxis experiment/year at <1 cent/experiment, and scales to millions of users/year. This performance was possible as we adapted the cloud computing paradigm to the life-sciences with user management and ubiquitous, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable, hot-swappable, and distributed experimentation resources, i.e., a scalable cluster of BPUs.

 

If you would like to test our cloud Lab please contact us.

Create user account, test a few microscopes with a high star reading, play around, check the help file,... and we would love your feedback (biologycloudlab@gmail.com).

We are looking for collaborators: If you are an educator and would like to use this lab with your students - OR if you are an educational researcher and would like use this lab for research - please contact us (ingmar@stanford.com)

(See also related publications: Hossain et al. 2016 Nature Biotechnology (pdf) (journal); Hossain et al. 2017a Learning at Scale (pdf) (journal); Hossain et al. 2017b International Journal or Artificial Intelligence in Education (pdf) (journal).)

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This cloud lab technology is suited for paradigm changing and global impact on classic on-site as well as (massive open) online STEM education. We evaluated our cloud lab with over 700 participants in various settings, e.g., middle and high-school, college, and as open edX online course also reaching developing countries (with Prof. Blikstein, Stanford Education). Users were enabled to execute key scientific practices (open-ended and controlled experimentation, data collection, visual and quantitative data analysis, biophysical modeling – ending with self-initiated projects including discovery and hypothesis testing). This represents a paradigm shift of what students currently can do in either on-site or online life-science education, i.e., to passively observe cells through a microscope. This fills an unmet need for novel, deep inquiry approaches in STEM education as voiced by many national science standards.

 

Ongoing work focuses on scaling up user numbers, investigating optimal instruction for online labs, utilizing logged user data for STEM education research at scale, and increasing biology content. We also perform cloud discovery research, which enables us to elucidate the Euglena phototaxis strategy, and we will open this cloud lab to other professional and citizen scientists.