Low Cost Instrumentation symposium in México, August 20-25, 2017

Hi All

There is still an opportunity to apply to present at this symposium as part of the International Materials Research Congress 2017 in México, August 20-25, 2017 and bring some GOSH magic back to Latin America.

Email tz275@cam.ac.uk if interested and please spread the word!

Website: https://www.mrs-mexico.org.mx/imrc2017/program-session.php?id=00049


##International Materials Research Congress 2017 - G.5 Low Cost Instrumentation - Empowering Science in Developing Countries
The use of low-cost and/or recycled materials for creating affordable instruments, sensors, analytical devices in domain such as health, environment, and energy could represents a clear breakthrough in developing countries where the lack of funding and sometimes of organized educational and social systems create strong inequalities in the very bulk of societies. Low-cost physics is also a challenge in the scientific and educational systems of the developed world, as a tool for a more sustainable development and social inclusion. The proposed symposium is dedicated to present the scientific achievements that the low-cost approach has reached up to now. Often, the low-cost approach is based on the use of materials, process and techniques that allow for coupling sustainability and high level research and technological development. The symposium is intended to be also a show case for the most ingenuous solutions found in laboratories all over the world. Tutorials and demo activities will represent an important aspect of the symposium.

###Symposium Topics

  • Educational systems in developing countries through the development of scientific and educational tools from low-cost and/or recycled materials
  • Success cases and the related achievements supporting low-cost physics approach
  • Scientific and educational relevance of low-cost physics for developed and developing countries.
  • Key issues and bottlenecks for the development of scientific and educational tools from low-cost and/or recycled materials
  • Creation of a general roadmap bridging the scientific and technological development with the societal needs, with specific reference to developing countries
1 Like

I really dont see the empowering side of this congress. All plenary speakers from the website, are seated in their home countries Ivory Towers in Europe/US, only one male from Argentina, and one outstanding female from the MIT.

It seems to me like a nice holiday in Cancun for Principal Investigators. With a trendy “Empowering Developing Countries, Low Cost” white male washing. I dont see how this is empowering for Latin American and POC scientists.

Privilege is when you think nothing is a problem, because is not a problem for you personally. And what I see here is how this conference wants to acquire social capital the same way McDonalds has been trying to do so by selling Quinoa Burguers.

Alexis Johnson

1 Like

Hi Alexis

Thanks for your points - I’m cc’ing @Tianheng who is a co-organiser of the symposium and may be able to address more on their aims and who is confirmed to present. I’m not personally involved, just spreading the word as it seemed relevant to interests on the forum and is being held in Latin America.


1 Like

Dear Alexis, I am Carlo Saverio Iorio, one of the organizers of the Symposium. I am a bit surprised of your words, denoting intellectual dishonesty. You speak of people trying, in good faith, to give their contribution for the development of Science in poor income countries as white males going for an holyday in Cancun while trying to acquire social capital like McDonalds. Even worse, without knowing any of them, nor their histories. You simply judge them.
I am going around in Africa since years, helping people in the villages to learn how to sanitize water, teaching students how to recycle old electronics to create brand new scientific instruments. I didn’t see you in the African forest while searching fruits to create Graetzel cells with students in Cameroon, Zambia, Mali.
The same is done by all the men and women ( and there are a lot of women in Africa more open-minded than you, believe me, that do not consider me as a white male but as a scientist helping, working, living with them) I work with.
Moreover, many of the activities are self-funded. And the fact that you know nothing of all this is the proof that nobody is seeking social capital.
Let alone that anyone living in US and Europe, even if they never visited any developing countries, whatever is the colour of their skin, wanting to contribute with ingenuity to create scientific instruments, giving advices or sharing its thought is welcomed.
If you get out of the mind prison and prejudice you are living in, I would be pleased to tell you more about both the symposium and other activities.
Best, Carlo

The topic of the event sounds great. it seems like there is a cameroonian who will be present at this event. I hope that he will share his experience with us. Please @bletchley2411 can you connect me with him? It can be interesting to discuss with him and see if he can attempt these two events that I am organizing in Yaoundé in May (see the posters).

Hi Thomas, I can put you in contact with many Cameroonians. Prof. Paul Woafo at Yaoundé1, the president of the Cameroonian Physical Society and a very good friend of mine. Also, Prof. Robert Tchitnga at the university of Dshang. You can contact also some students I am in contact with.
Could you please write me on my mail, ciorio@ulb.ac.be so that I will give you mail addresses?
Anyway, I will be in Yaoundé next December, beginning of the long dry season; It would be an opportunity to meet, if you agree.
all the best, Carlo

Hello Carlo,

we have not met personally at GOSH2017. I dont think you attended this gathering.

I have critized the International Materials Research Congress, and the PLENARY SPEAKERS privilege who are all professors. This large symposia is lacking of accesibility and diversity representation. At the content level of the symposia (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I), the “state of the art” technologies are in the spotlight. With one sub-session, the G5. 1 out 50 sessions.

From my point view, and the context mentioned above, there is still in the G5 session, a blind spot in patriarcal and colonial reproduction. That shows also in your arguments.

I will never ocuppy the voice or speak for all the men and african women you have helped or work with. I only speak from my voice as a transgender women from Latinamerica. Who have observed critically the congress website.

And I have to say: expecting a marginalized minority to kindly educate you, is an epitome of entitlement. At the moment I am not going to carry on a further discussion without a GOSH moderator.

Wish you a good day


Hi all,

I’d like to request putting this conversation on hold for a moment for the purpose of moderation. Thanks for your consideration.

@thomasmboa and @bletchley2411 perhaps continuing your conversation in the thread going about the biohacking event in Cameroon would be best.



@bletchley2411 This conference seems like it is trying to tackle some really important questions - thanks for the work you are doing to help organize scientists around these values. That being said, I hope that Alexis’s comments, and critique won’t be lost or ignored. From your response, it seems you might have taken her statements personally, but I don’t think the purpose of her comment was to attack you or the work you have done in Africa.

It seems like she was pointing out the fact that your event is focused on empowering people who have been systematically devalued (a great value to start with) but that your event’s lineup of Plenary Speakers - those who are lifted up as the thought leaders of the movement - does not reflect this goal. This might seem petty, but when you are trying to empower people who have been systematically disempowered by colonial, neocolonial, capitalist, patriarchal (pick your poison) power structures – it’s important to consider whose voices are lifted up the highest and put in symbolic positions of power.

I attended GOSH for the first time this year, and was really impressed by the effort they’ve put into creating systems to work towards the structure of the conference, and the diversity of attendees and speakers reflecting their values. I don’t know anything about the Symposium in Mexico (don’t have time to look through the whole website at this moment) but here are some things I noticed GOSH did to address the issues that Alexis is trying to raise:

An Emphasis on Equity rather than Equality:
This one is really important - and something that Max Liboiron addressed powerfully in her presentation at the very beginning of the conference. By having her speak to this at the start of GOSH, and to the ways she concretely practices this in her lab CLEAR – those values were clarified and lifted up throughout the conference. Here is a statement on the difference between Equity and Equality from the GOSH code of conduct –

“equality is about treating everyone exactly the same, while equity recognizes that everyone does not start from the same position and so treating everyone the same may leave them in the same uneven positions they began in. For this reason, we are intentional about actively reducing the inequitable barriers that stand between science and those who create, use, and learn from it.”

Intentionally addressing inequality in the selection of attendees and speakers:
One of the GOSH organizers would be better able to speak to the specifics of this – but I remember the mention of a selection process that was used to ensure that a certain percentage of conference goers and speakers were women, transgender, and non-binary people – and representative of diverse communities around the world. As a non-binary person that has experienced a lot of alienation in scientific spaces, just the mention of this made me more likely to participate and feel my contributions were valued.

Having a Code of Conduct and Safety Officer:
GOSH has developed a Code of Conduct to ensure people are interacting respectfully and has a safety officer that can take complaints if someone is being disrespectful. Everyone was required to read through this and agree to it in order to attend the conference, so it can be a good way to prime people.

Having a shared understanding that technology is not inherently good and scientific knowledge is not an ultimate truth that legitimizes cultural erasure:
This one is more something I picked up on as an undercurrent of the conference that had to be addressed in many discussions. Even when people have genuinely good intentions and are acting out of a place of love, it’s easy for discussions to slip into this colonial mindset of - “oh, these poor people don’t have science and western living, and our way of living is so much better so we need to help them understand why what we know is right and what they know is wrong.” I’m really thankful to have been introduced to the concept of, “Cognitive Justice” by Mboa Nkoudou – seems like a great theoretical framework for thinking about and addressing the ways we as western scientists participate in the types of cultural erasure and invalidation that is often an unintentional effect of the work of NGO’s and non-profit philanthropic missions. Here’s the wikipedia entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_justice I’m very excited to dig deeper into the literature on that topic…

As I said before, I don’t know much of anything about the Conference in Mexico aside from surface level information, so these organizing principles may be useful to you, or they may be things you’re already working on. I just hope that these methods can spread and advance because they are so desperately needed for this type of work to be successful and so scarcely addressed :slight_smile:

Rian Hammond


Dear Rian, thanks for your words. I was only spotting that it is a golden rule first to know, to listen, to ask then to draw conclusions. How can you promote equity if you don’t listen first to the people histories? I was rough to Alexis because of sentences like “what I see here is how this conference wants to acquire social capital the same way McDonalds has been trying to do so by selling Quinoa Burgers.” or “With a trendy “Empowering Developing Countries, Low Cost” white male washing” . One could have first asked " could you explain better what do you mean by empowering?"

Hi everyone. For those who I haven’t met yet, I am the current Safety Officer for GOSH. First off, I would like to note that being rough to others will not be tolerated on this forum or at in-person events, under any circumstances.

Let’s remember that we are part of a larger movement, and that our movement will be the best when we bring our best selves – even, and especially, when it’s hard. In the future, when someone asks for a conversation to be placed on hold due to a possible Code of Conduct violation, we are all expected to comply immediately and disengage, regardless of whether we agree with the request. The next step would be to contact me or one of the organizers directly to further discuss the thread if necessary. As we aren’t having this conversation in person, it is even more important to maintain a tone of respect and to put conversations on “hold” while we take a moment to all get back on the same page.

(Of note, I recognize that @rhammond and @shannond posted simultaneously, even though Shannon’s request appears first in the thread. Thank you both for modeling collective facilitation!)

On this particular thread, I am requesting that any further discussion remain on hold unless and until otherwise noted. If we re-open this conversation, it will be from a place of shared values and openness.


Thank you all for your consideration while moderation of this thread happened. We have been in contact individually with people to do personal check-ins and request that if you do wish to post in response to the initial symposium listing, you do so in a forward-thinking manner and with the knowledge we have addressed the conversations that have happened thus far.

An additional step that we have currently taken over the last couple of days is to require people to view and agree to the GOSH Code of Conduct when they are signing up for the forum. We also encourage everyone who has previously read it to take a look from time to time, especially if you have questions about the content of something you have read or would like to say on the forum. We also welcome you to first contact us either at organizers@openhardware.science or if you’d rather do a one-on-one check in, please feel free to direct message me on the forum or email at shannon.dosemagen@gmail.com or Klie at lrkbert@gmail.com if you’d like to run the content of your post past someone first.

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be working on developing an approach to moderation in the GOSH community and will welcome your input and participation along the way.

1 Like