Shaun Moshasha | Co-Founder | Charlottesville Open Biolabs |

So, a bit of context about our lab before I dive into the projects: We started up just under a year ago and have been working to figure out the best business model to keep ourselves afloat while serving the community, and what we've landed upon is an education based approach.  We are creating classes, field trips, summer camps, after school programs, etc. targeted towards high school kids in order to sustain our lab.  To that end, one of the projects we are currently working on is a mycelium based water filter.  

Tell me something about your project? 

Mycelium is naturally good at filtering out pathogens, heavy metals, and organic compounds (each species differs on it's specificity).  We in lab are attempting to identify the species which filters out compounds relevant to an ideal use case and design a system that would allow the mycelium to replace a traditional water filter.  Our first target is to design a filter for the Eco Village (a local compound), who is looking to build a completely natural, no chemicals added pool.

Who is/are part of this project (people, company etc.)? 

The team is comprised entirely of High School kids.  We have started an Open Bio Labs club at a local high school.  The kids that are part of that club come to the lab once a week to monitor and build their mycelium project.  Additionally, we are working with a Mr. Mark Jones, a local mushroom farmer, who has a pretty extensive knowledge of mycelium.

What are the challenges you encountered? 

The biggest challenge we face is organizing the team.  Since this is no one's job, it is very easy for the project to go untended.  Maintaining the team's enthusiasm and discipline to see the project through is by far the toughest challenge.

How did you get the funding of this project? 

As of yet we have not received any funding for this project.  We have a lot of the materials necessary for the experiments already in the lab. The rest of the cost is borne by the team members.  However, the lab plans on raising funding at a higher level to support student projects like these.

What motivates you to create this project? 

Mycelium is a really cool organism.  This is a way for us to play around with it while learning about it.  The water filter is a good first target and can have a real impact on society, however the potential of mycelium itself it enormous and we would love to make that an area of expertise for our lab.

What equipments did you use/are using? 

For this project, nothing much. We have a pressure cooker (autoclave) and abide by aseptic technique.

When did you started this project and when do you think it will be finished/when did you finished it? 

This project was started in June 2016 and we hope to have some results by the end of August 2016.

In what aspect does your project can help the people? 

I'm a bit confused by this question. But if you are asking about impact on society, we are looking at natural water filtration.  Imagine all the pesticides, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, and all the other nasty stuff running into your water.  If we can plant mycelium beds in riparian zones, perhaps along all waste water outlets, then our water quality could improve substantially.

What are your plans after this project? 

After this project, we will work on another project!

(If project is not yet done) Do you think your project would be successful and useful? 

Yes, I believe this project will be both successful and useful.