Interactive cloud experimentation for biology: An online education case study

Zahid Hossain, Xiaofan Jin, Engin W. Bumbacher, Alice M. Chung, Stephen Koo, Jordan D. Shapiro, Cynthia Y. Truong, Sean Choi, Nathan D. Orloff, Paulo Blikstein, Ingmar H. Riedel-Kruse

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

25 Scopus citations


Interacting with biological systems via experiments is important for academia, industry, and education, but access barriers exist due to training, costs, safety, logistics, and spatial separation. High-throughput equipment combined with web streaming could enable interactive biology experiments online, but no such platform currently exists. We present a cloud experimentation architecture (paralleling cloud computation), which is optimized for a class of domain-specific equipments (biotic processing units - BPU) to share and execute many experiments in parallel remotely and interactively at all time. We implemented an instance of this architecture that enables chemotactic experiments with a slime mold Physarum Polycephelum. A user study in the blended teaching and research setting of a graduate-level biophysics class demonstrated that this platform lowers the access barrier for non-biologists, enables discovery, and facilitates learning analytics. This architecture is flexible for integration with various biological specimens and equipments to facilitate scalable interactive online education, collaborations, research, and citizen science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2015 - Proceedings of the 33rd Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationCrossings
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450331456
StatePublished - Apr 18 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event33rd Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2015 - Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: Apr 18 2015Apr 23 2015

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Conference33rd Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2015
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of


  • Automation
  • Biology
  • Cloud computing
  • Cloud experimentation
  • Cloud lab
  • Education
  • Remote experimentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


Dive into the research topics of 'Interactive cloud experimentation for biology: An online education case study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this