Partially Attended

an irregularly updated blog by Ian Mulvany

Prakash lab - frugal science and the future of research

Fri Sep 25, 2020

277 Words

I just wanted to share some work coming out of the Prakash lab in Stanford. Manu Prakash is a young engineer and research scientist who has taken a very different approach to how to think about the tools we use to do science. He has focussed on building very cheap tools that can be used by anyone in the world. One of the first tools that his lab created was the foldscope - a microscope built from paper, and a small piece of plastic - that can be produced very cheaply and given out to people across the world (

Their lab has also created tools to allow cheap and wide-scale analysis of the microbiome of the ocean.

They have just launched a massive online course open to anyone in the world on how to use frugal science methods to understand the world around them -

This is a very very different approach to thinking about science.

They have also created a hand-crank centrifuge that can be used in the field with no electricity. They have used this as a platform to develop a rapid COVID test that can test for viral RNA at a cost of less than $1 per test and this paper has just come out in medarxiv -

I think Manu is one of the most exciting young researchers working in the world at the moment, and I’m delighted to see his work now having an impact on the current COVID crisis.

It’s great to see how thinking different can yield such impact, and it’s an inspiration to keep trying to think fresh in the way any of us approach innovation.

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