Building my first Foldscope!

Building my Foldscope under Tom's watchful eye!
Building my Foldscope under Tom’s watchful eye!
Surface of a random leaf at 125x magnification!
Surface of a random leaf at 125x magnification!

Ever since I met Manu at my first TED conference in Long Beach back in 2012, I have been a wild fan of Foldscope. I still remember walking around one of the fancy cocktail parties with him as he pulled a handful of these origami microscopes out of a pouch around his neck and showed people what they could do. He was like a magician that night and I, among many others, were his captive audience.

Yesterday, I finally had the privilege of building my own under the watchful eye of Prakash lab post-doc Tom Hata. It was a really fun experience to feel like I was building my own microscope and of course the results were mind-blowing (see above!)! I have to admit, as a marine biologist who works with blue whales, I haven’t had much opportunity to spend too many hours peering down a microscope in recent years. In fact, the last time I used a microscope was in 2003 as a student at Oxford University. It doesn’t mean I am not fascinated by the microworld. As a Sri Lankan marine biologist, I just haven’t had easy access to a microscope in that many years! In fact, this past January, I collected some incredibly important samples and really needed access to a microscope to characterize these tiny creatures down to species level but getting access to a university lab in Colombo turned out to be complicated and I am still left in intrigue and dependent on my external collaborators in Australia to help me unravel some answers. (It’s been 10 months and the suspense is killing me…this could have been so much easier if someone just designed a cheap, portable microscope……wait……a … minute…… 🙂 )

YAY Foldscope!!! My world has become infinitely more exciting (and trust me when I tell you it was already pretty incredibly exciting) because I can start to do some of the interesting small scale work myself and get answers on the spot rather than suffer the anguish of waiting months just because I can’t afford an expensive, unportable microscope!!!

Here’s to new adventures! Thanks to the Prakash team!!

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