ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network













The Urban Scientist

The Urban Scientist


A hip hop maven blogs on urban ecology, evolutionary biology & diversity in the sciences
The Urban Scientist Home

ZappyLab: Using technology to make DOING science research easier

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


Email   PrintPrint



With only one day left and less than $2,000 to go, I want to see this science app company Kickstarter campaign make it!

Update: This campaign was completely funded. Thank you!!

ZappyLab offers what they call Bench Tools – a suite of research tools for those who do laboratory life science research.  Nice idea and I love reserach tech, especially those that can be used on mobile devices.  My problem is that most things advertised for life sciences mean micro and molecular biology. My attempts to use other similar technologies for organismal biology research have been, meh.

But I had a chance to meet and talk with one of the developers, Lenny Teytelman, at ScienceOnline2014. He walked me through it.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I see how great this might be when I finally get around to doing those ELISAs; but how can this tool be of use to me right here and now? I explained my concerns – about the tools – namely the timer and molarity calculator – being for people who do wet bench science.

What about researchers in the life sciences whose idea of bench science doesn’t actually involve a bench at all? That’s when he showed me the counter. The counter won me over. A behavior researcher (like me) can keep tab of frequency of events by simply tapping the key pad; it even allows recording on up to 12 categories at a time.  It collects all of that info and summarizes it for you. Now, that’s a science app I can use.  We continued to talk about some specific needs I have (as a behavior researcher) and the timer part of the app. Because he is a researcher, too – he understands what researchers need. We need tools that are easy and convenient to use.  If I can do it faster and more reliably with old technology – a clipboard and clock – then your app isn’t really a revolution to me. It’s just bling.

I liked that he was open to feedback to improve the app and make it useful to scientists like me.  It made me open to the other things that the app offers – which for them is their biggest selling point - a free, up-to-date, crowd sourced Protocol Repository for the life science experiments.

And after I got past my own feelings (micro life sciences get all of the research apps and macro doesn’t – whine), I realized that an easy to access Protocol Repository was EXACTLY what I’ve been hankering for all along. All of my #DNLeeLab T-maze and Barnes Maze experimental attempts with the pouched rats, and all of the other experiments that I’ve been tweaking and co-opting from the psychology and pharmacology literature – were cries unto the universe for better tools.

The step-by-step countdown part of the protocols didn’t really excite me at first.  Then, I realized that I could use them for timing down my acclimation periods before behavioral observations. Yes, I’m the only person doing this kind of research on this organism right now, but maybe I’m not. Or perhaps someone else is out there working on a different species yet comparable challenge – big, wild, under-studied species, trying to co-opt a behavioral assay designed for a smaller, tamer beasty. Yes. This could be the lifeline that organismal biologists have been hoping for. And I’m not the only who sees how promising this tool can be, my friend, Lalsox, is a high school science teacher and she sees this as a powerful teaching tool for her life science labs.

So, please join me in supporting this company, these innovators and researchers. !Let’s get this funded for science, for education, for everyone!

 

 

DNLee About the Author: DNLee is a biologist and she studies animal behavior, mammalogy, and ecology . She uses social media, informal experiential science experiences, and draws from hip hop culture to share science with general audiences, particularly under-served groups. Follow on Twitter @DNLee5.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





Rights & Permissions

Add Comment

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Dinosaurs

Get Total Access to our Digital Anthology

1,200 Articles

Order Now - Just $39! >

X

Email this Article

X