Citizen science has traditionally been more focused on topics such as astronomy, computing and ecology, but two young entrepreneurs, Bethan Wolfenden and Philipp Boeing, have gone a long way towards putting molecular biology firmly in the citizen science arena. Wolfenden, a biochemist, and Boeing, a computer scientist, met as undergraduates at University College London. Having been drawn into citizen science by the enthusiasm of ‘biohackers’ they met during a student project, they decided to form a company called Bento Bio and have worked very hard over the last few years to develop a portable DNA laboratory the size of a laptop called Bento Lab. Containing a PCR thermocycler, a centrifuge and a gel electrophoresis box, the Bento Lab aims to make molecular biology accessible for beginners, as well as being a useful tool for scientists in the field. With the first non-prototype kits being sent out to consumers next month, Helen Albert met up with Wolfenden and Boeing to discuss their story and find out how they are helping to put molecular biology on the citizen science map.

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