In September 2015, through a people award from the Wellcome Trust, we began work on establishing ASCUS Lab, the UK’s largest publicly accessible laboratory for experimentation in art & science. We wanted to challenge the notion that ‘A lab is somewhere you can’t go unless you’re a scientist’ through our belief that a laboratory should be accessible to everyone. This belief led us to open our own at Summerhall in Edinburgh and it sits at the intersection of art and science. This ambitious project has seen ASCUS renovating a disused lab in the former Royal Dick Vet School, bringing it back to life and today we run a year round programme of art-science events and workshops, courses and training programmes and Open Sessions that see the lab open its door to anyone.

Our Lab Vision

As a leading advocate for art and science collaboration, we connect artists and scientists to build a community and create opportunities to reach new and wider public audiences through hands-on experiences and opportunities. By working with partners, we provide a facility for innovative, creative and fun methods of public engagement in a shared physical space for scientists, artists and the public to interact directly with the tools and ideas of science and art through DIY experimenting.

ASCUS Lab Open Sessions and Community
We run our lab Open Sessions twice weekly providing access to the lab and its resources so that anyone can develop and work on their own independent lab based projects. During these Open Sessions individuals have have access to lab bench space and specialist equipment and our technician on hand to offer advise (please note one-to-one training is only available outside of Open Session times). Check out our lab Open Sessions page for more information.
Join our ASCUS Lab Community, a public group for ASCUS Lab Community members to meet virtually, share ideas, and relevant titbits.
Courses and Training
We provide a range of different training catering to everyone, from the general public and artists looking to learn new skills and access science equipment, to researchers wanting to develop ways to boost their public engagement. Monthly inductions are the perfect time for those not from a science background, to get set up with the basic skills needed to access our Open Sessions. Alternatively, twice yearly (in Autumn and during our Summer School), we run our Microscopy and Microbiology Skills Courses providing in-depth learning experiences to explore these fascinating areas.
For researchers we provide training opportunities to help you to develop and deliver new workshops and hands-on activities that share current research with members of the public in a fun, informative and creative way that provides a window onto ‘real’ science happening today. We can even help you to find artists looking to co-develop creative workshops and activities for ‘hands-on’ public engagement.
For artists we offer collaborative opportunities with scientists to co-create and co-deliver art-science workshops and activities and we provide a platform for artists to share their art-science practice with public audiences. We also actively encourage creative and surprising projects that push the boundaries of how we think about art, science and the world around us and challenge the role and implications of science technology in society.
If you have an idea for a project that you want to explore with us get in touch or pop into our Open Sessions for a chat!
Hands-on Art-Science Workshops
Over the years we have run a number of hands-on workshops based around a range of themes from crystallography to soil microbiology and even genetic modification. The aim of our workshops is to bring science and art to the public, whether that be highlighting research from partners or exploring areas of public interest. Check out our workshops page to see the different types of workshops we have run in the past here
Facility and Hire
The lab has four distinct areas of focus, microscopy, microbiology, DNA analysis and genetic modification, with each area requiring specialist equipment and consumables for which we can provide. We are equipped with a range of high magnification microscopes as well as a microtome, incubator, centrifuge, fume hoods, PCR machines, gel doc systems and a transilluminator to name only a few. Check out our lab facility and hire page for more info about the resources, equipment, and expertise we can provide.

ASCUS Lab was co-founded by Dr James Howie (director of ASCUS), Ms Lucy Stewart and research scientists in different areas of the School of Biological Sciences (and beyond) from the University of Edinburgh.

ASCUS Lab was established with support from a Wellcome Trust People Award and through ongoing support from Summerhall