Article ID: CBB362815001

Changing Infrastructural Practices: Routine and Reproducibility in Automated Interdisciplinary Bioscience (2020)


Proponents of engineering and design approaches to biology aim to make interdisciplinary bioscience research faster and more reproducible. This paper outlines and deploys a practice-based approach to analyses of infrastructure that focuses on the routine epistemic activities and charts how two such routines are unsettled and resettled in the background of epistemic culture. This paper describes attempts to bring about new research infrastructures in synthetic biology using robotics and software-enabled design. A focus on the skills of pipetting shows how established manual labor has to be reconfigured to fit with novel robotic automations. An analysis of curating frozen materials shows that automated design presents new problems for the established activities of storing and retrieving biological materials. These movements, while transient, have implications for organizing interdisciplinary collaboration, research productivity, and enabling greater reproducibility. This paper explores the idea of infrastructure as practice and shows how this has important implications for studies of research infrastructures. This article discusses the main contributions of this approach for analysts of infrastructure in terms of movements, temporalities, and ethics and offers suggestions for what the research implies for synthetic biology.

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Authors & Contributors
Lynn, Christopher D.
Weckowska, Dagmara
Marco Deseriis
Simons, Massimiliano
Ananny, Mike
Nerem, Robert
Science, Technology, and Human Values
Endeavour: Review of the Progress of Science
Biological Theory
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Social Studies of Science
University of Chicago Press
University of California, Los Angeles
Palgrave Macmillan
Harvard University Press
Duke University Press
Synthetic biology; bioengineering
Life sciences
Koonin, Eugene V.
Waddington, Conrad Hal
Winkler, Hans Karl Albert
Venter, J. Craig
Tesla, Nikola
Morowitz, Harold J.
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
20th century
19th century
Southern states (U.S.)
Alabama (U.S.)
Great Britain
Census of Marine Life (1999-2009)
Human Genome Project

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