I generate computational designs for microorganisms that overproduce chemicals for biofuel and pharmaceuticals. As part of this, I like looking at how open-research, standardisation, and management of research assets (data, models, standard operating procedures) accelerates innovation within the field.
I am a trained systems biologist, and I have been working as an early-career researcher in synthetic biology for the last three years. My focus has been on using microorganisms as factories to produce high-value chemicals for biofuels and pharmaceuticals. The motivation for this work is to reduce the reliance of industry on petrochemical feedstocks, and facilitate a movement to more sustainable feedstocks.
The work we do in systems and synthetic biology is interdisciplinary, and involves biological research assets from a plethora of fields and analysis techniques. As a result a lot of heterogenous research assets are exchanged between researchers in order to complete investigations. For this to be effective these research assets must be structured and annotated according to recognised standards.
Standards development in systems and synthetic biology is a grassroots activity, led by the Combine community, which I am a member of. Much of our work is being formalised by infrastructure projects I am also part of, including Infrastructure for Systems Biology Europe and FAIRdom.
It is the standardisation efforts for the systems and synthetic biology field that I will focus on during my fellowship.