Interactive Biology

Interactive Biology through Remote Control. Introducing a web interface for remotely controlling a digital microfluidics device in life sciences education (2017). MSc thesis Media Technology (Leiden University)

First thesis advisor: Dr. Ir. Fons Verbeek
Second thesis advisor: Pieter van Boheemen
Research conducted as part of an internship at Waag Society
Digital microfluidics in collaboration with Digi.Bio

Programmable, automated devices and remote laboratories are changing the way biochemistry research is done. As one of the promising lab automation technologies, Digital Microfluidics (DMF) allows the controlled movement of droplets on a surface, translating laboratory protocols to droplet operations. The DIY Biology community, that fosters cheap digital fabrication tools and the accessibility of biology research through hands-on practice, has shown interest in this technology. This study harnesses these developments for education. An online remote DMF laboratory is developed and a simulation is tested with undergraduate and graduate Biology students, with the goals of providing a framework for learning technical as well as conceptual skills, while questioning what such an interface should look like. The value of this also lies in the observation that remote laboratory studies, although rare in biology education, are yet a growing trend. Moreover, the usability of user interfaces for digital microfluidic control environments is previously mostly ignored in literature.