Biohacking in Academia?

edited February 2015 in Community
Are there any colleges/universities that have programs at least semi-related to what we do, or expand upon it?  I remember hearing that there is only one cybernetics program in the world.  And what about things like gene-mods?  I suppose what I'm really asking is: what is the most relevant degree program to the different types of biohacking?


  • edited February 2014
    Well just to take it off the list, UAT (University of Advancing Technology) in Arizona, doesn't have anything currently in regards to technology and biology combined officially...

    Although their network security field is really expansive and I am taking the approach of applying what I learn in class to the different technology that many have theorized or currently have placed in themselves.
    This is my first semester in there so haven't learned terribly much yet that I don't already know, however my next semester will much more advanced courses so I am excited to not only use university equipment at my leisure, such as free 3D printing and endless professional and private software, but also get a peek at their robotics courses with which I can find people who are interested in adapting what they have learned to any possible "cybergear" that they might come up with.

    ***edit*** typo corrections by Proxy
  • edited February 2014
    Gene mods are still years (read decades) out from being a thing. Even the most cutting edge stuff is still fraught with cascading biological system errors. Insert token commentary about how biology is more complicated than swapping out a graphics card. (edit: if you want to get excited, read up on the CRISPR papers that are coming out right now. cool stuff.)

    My experience is once you get into academia, you start focusing in on things in a different way. The problem with a lot of this edgy multi disciplinary experimentation is that it's not really scientific. A lot of it is engineering not science (does this coating work better than that coating / how can we stuff x objects into y body parts / etc). What I mean by that is that it has less to do with understanding or developing how a system works and more about doing stuff to the system. A physicist explores fluid dynamics, a plumber fixes your sink. To be fair, having a working sink is more crucial than having a working understanding of fluid dynamics, but you can't properly design the systems that get water to the sink without it.

    Warwick over in the UK is an example of some academia cybernetics, but for the most part, academia doesn't really seem to approach the research the way that grinders do. But if you are looking for programs...
    Molecular Biology
    Synthetic Biology
    Electrical Engineering

    You'll note that most of those are biology centered. Partially due to my biases, but also due to the fact that we do not have enough informed biologists and people working through things in a scientific manner. I'll say it again, biology is a complicated thing, and not predictable like circuitry. If you don't have a robust bio background or at least learn to read the research and understand it, you are going to make some mistakes. 
  • That all makes a lot of sense.  Thanks for your help!
  • One of the first implants was done by an academic Kevin Warwick in the UK.  Katina Michael also does a lot of study into this area and has interviewed Amal for an academic paper here

    There's now also me! I'm doing my PhD in this area, in the field of interaction design and natural user interfaces (NUIs). So I'm not looking at the biological side of things I'm looking at the motivations and ways that people are using these technologies. 
  • edited April 2015
    I would argue that most practical science really reduces to engineering. Ok, we want to figure out how this system works, now how do we build a device to do that? Also to complement the list Glims put forward and to add in some of my bias the most relevant biohacking field in the brain sciences is the relatively new field of Neural Engineering (my PhD goal). Good shit. Involves the creation of devices that interface with the nervous system.

    I do very much like the idea of finding others going into academia interested in biohacking, and what fields they are going into.
  • I would also argue science is also about prediction rather than just pure understanding: theories can be seen as models of reality and they make predictions from everyday things like "If Newton's Law is right, when I apply force to this key in the keyboard it will move down" to "if this coating is biocompatible, this means that if the magnet is coated with it it will not be rejected when implanted inside the body".

    And since we're starting to talk about "purity": Totally Relevant
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