Virtual Lab Experiments


In a great example of innovating during the shelter in place restrictions, the Roorda Lab set up a virtual lab to allow members to run experiments (which run with four computers) entirely remotely. The only person in the lab is the subject, everyone else is in their office or at home. This image is a screen shot from a zoom video recording of one of their experiments in action.

Professor Will Tuten was the subject and he was connected by zoom with six other researchers as shown in the six inset panels on the right.

  • James Fong (EECS Masters student) : calling from his home in Fremont.
  • Ren Ng (*professor in EECS): calling from his home in Kensington.
  • Austin Roorda: calling from his home in El Cerrito.
  • John Erik Vanston (still picture): calling from his office in Minor Addition.
  • Ally Boehm (no picture): calling from her friend's house in Toronto, Canada.
  • Will Tuten (still picture): he is the subject and is the only person in the lab.

How it Works

John Erik, Ally and James are all connected to the system computers via Teamviewer (like remote desktop, but better). James is sharing his screen on the Zoom call.

The main part of the screenshot contains a live microscopic view of the cones in Will's retina. John Erik, Ally and James are all actively involved in running the experiment, which is to image, track and stimulate cones in Will's retina for color vision experiments.

The pandemic forced the lab to devise new ways to run experiments. By opening the doors to the 'virtual' lab, Roorda et al have been able to get more people involved in the experiments and be more collaborative. This is one instance where the lab memebers are not eager to go back to business-as-usual once the pandemic is over.

Kudos to Pavan Tiruveehula for the set up.