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      Changing Infrastructural Practices: Routine and Reproducibility in Automated Interdisciplinary Bioscience

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          Abstract

          Proponents of engineering and design approaches to biology aim to make interdisciplinary bioscience research faster and more reproducible. This paper outlines and deploys a practice-based approach to analyses of infrastructure that focuses on the routine epistemic activities and charts how two such routines are unsettled and resettled in the background of epistemic culture. This paper describes attempts to bring about new research infrastructures in synthetic biology using robotics and software-enabled design. A focus on the skills of pipetting shows how established manual labor has to be reconfigured to fit with novel robotic automations. An analysis of curating frozen materials shows that automated design presents new problems for the established activities of storing and retrieving biological materials. These movements, while transient, have implications for organizing interdisciplinary collaboration, research productivity, and enabling greater reproducibility. This paper explores the idea of infrastructure as practice and shows how this has important implications for studies of research infrastructures. This article discusses the main contributions of this approach for analysts of infrastructure in terms of movements, temporalities, and ethics and offers suggestions for what the research implies for synthetic biology.

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          Most cited references 22

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          Toward a Theory of Social Practices: A Development in Culturalist Theorizing

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            Consumption and Theories of Practice

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              Infrastructure studies meet platform studies in the age of Google and Facebook

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Sci Technol Human Values
                Sci Technol Human Values
                STH
                spsth
                Science, Technology & Human Values
                SAGE Publications (Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA )
                0162-2439
                1552-8251
                9 December 2019
                November 2020
                : 45
                : 6 , Special Issue: Constitutionalism at the Nexus of Life and Law
                : 1220-1241
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Sociology, University of Manchester
                [2 ]The Cathie Marsh Institute, University of Manchester
                [3 ]The Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives, University of Manchester
                Author notes
                Robert Meckin, Humanities Bridgeford Street, Manchester M13 9PL, UK. Email: rjmeckin@ 123456gmail.com
                Article
                10.1177_0162243919893757
                10.1177/0162243919893757
                7448810
                © The Author(s) 2019

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages ( https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

                Funding
                Funded by: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/501100000268;
                Award ID: BB/M017702/1
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                ts3

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