BioBuilder Synthetic Biology in the Lab

BioBuilder Synthetic Biology in the Lab PDF

Author: Natalie Kuldell and Rachel Bernstein

Publisher: O'Reilly Media


Publish Date: July 3, 2015

ISBN-10: 1491904291

Pages: 238

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

This book began with a relatively modest mission, namely to support the growingBioBuilder community, the teachers and students around the country and the world who are learning to engineer biology. BioBuilding is a challenging endeavor, and we heard over and over that a book like this would help. So here it is. We hope it’s helpful. We hope you like it.

We’ve written for a non-scientist, non-engineer reader. Importantly, though, the questions that motivate the content are the very hard questions that synthetic biologists wrestle with daily. How can cells be engineered in a rational way? Is it possible to ensure reliable behaviors? What can we learn as we approach life science with an engineer’s toolkit?

Who Should Read This Book

We hope a wide range of readers will find this book useful. Our writing began with teachers in mind, since these are the individuals we’ve come to know through the BioBuilder program. They have been enthusiastically bringing this content into their biology and biotechnology classrooms around the country and throughout the world. Early feedback we got on the book made us realize that teachers wanted to share the book directly with their students, and so the teacher’s manual we’d originally envisioned soon morphed into a resource that students and teachers can use together. We think our book now meets the needs of many curious readers and all kinds of learners. Our intended audience includes high school and college instructors, students active in biodesign clubs, adults engaged in community laboratories, and artists working in design studios. We hope there is something in this book for everyone who wants to know more about the theoretical and practical aspects of synthetic biology.

Why We Wrote This Book

BioBuilder bridges the gap between the way we do science and the way we teach it. The ideas presented here and the labs that spring from them are based on current research in the field. The authenticity sparks student interest, and we’ve seen how it can excite and empower learners at all levels. But it’s hard to be working on the edge of what’s known, so we wrote this book to support the teachers and students who want to use unknowns as their point of departure for learning. We also wrote this book because we love synthetic biology’s mixture of science and engineering, and we wanted to show how it’s working in practice. Our foundational chapters emphasize how synthetic biology brings some successful tools from more mature engineering disciplines to the life sciences. Our laboratory-focused chapters start with an authentic research question and then provide protocols to approach it from an engineering perspective.

With its mixture of foundational content, lab investigations, and biodesign activities, this book is our best effort to engender curiosity and enthusiasm for the field. We take an approach to synthetic biology and education more generally that resembles what Antoine de Saint Exupéry encouraged for ship-building in The Little Prince, namely “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

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