Foldscope & The Dream of Easy Pollen Identification

Leeuwenhoek_Microscope

Leeuwenhoek_Microscope

It would be wonderful to identify pollen in honey and from pollen gathered by bees.  You can do that with a 400x-1000x microscope for a couple of hundred dollars and some training in staining techniques. So when I heard about Foldscope – an origami microscope that fits in your pocket and costs less than 2 bucks – I was excited about the prospect of beekeepers identifying pollen in the field.

Foldscope originated out of the department of bioengineering at Stanford University. The Prakash Lab designed a low cost paper microscope that more closely resembles the original Leeuwenhoek microscope than the familiar tubular compound microscopes today.

One goal of foldscope is to provide a microscope to healthcare workers in poor countries to diagnose disease. The Prakash Lab received grants from several foundations to hand out thousands of foldscopes.  I was one among thousands of beta testers from 130 different countries to request a foldscope (the beta phase is now closed) and it arrived in an envelope several weeks later. Continue reading Foldscope & The Dream of Easy Pollen Identification