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A new voice in the forum

Friends, researchers, synthetic biology community members lend me your ears. If you can’t spare your own auditory organs, lend me a maker-bot and some hydrogel so that I can 3D print my own set of synthetic tissues.

Image: (Kang et al., Nature, 2016)

With all due apologies to Julius Caesar, allow me to introduce myself. I’m Sam Million-Weaver and I could not be more thrilled to be joining the PLOS SynBio blog empire as a community editor. I look forward to expanding my own horizons while communicating the amazing developments happening throughout the SynBio space. I hope my posts will engage, inform, and enlighten. From fighting Zika Virus transmission with gene-drive carrying mosquitoes, to harnessing microalgae for biofuel production, the field is moving fast and exploring previously unimaginable frontiers in its ongoing quest to overcome humanity’s problems using nature’s own toolbox.

Word cloud generated from PLOS SynBio RSS feed
Word cloud generated from PLOS SynBio RSS feed

My background is in bacterial genetics and physiology. During my PhD training at the University of Washington, Seattle, I investigated the consequences of head-on replication-transcription conflicts on replication restart and genomic instability in Bacillus subtilis. After defending my thesis, I traded in my pipettes for pencil and paper, moving to Wisconsin to become a science writer while pursuing a master’s degree in Life Sciences Communication at UW-Madison. During my 9-5 I study how people perceive controversial science topics, write news articles for the College of Engineering, and teach undergraduates how to write college-level research papers.

Wisconsin gets cold during the winter
Wisconsin gets cold during the winter

Moving forward in this role, I pledge to seek out interesting stories across the diverse disciplines that form the foundation of synthetic biology. Although I maintain a deep and abiding love for Gram positive bacteria, the spectacular progress in genome engineering that allow synthetic biologists to manipulate Eukaryotic organisms inspires me to get over my deep-seated prejudice against nucleated cells. Working at UW-Madison gives me the opportunity to connect with brilliant biological engineers, who work on everything from genome editing in stem cells, to tailor-made TALEs for custom gene regulation. I’m excited to share perspectives and findings from the top minds on this campus, but I promise to look beyond my institution to share the latest-and-greatest research—the SynBio blog will not transform into the SynBadger blog while I’m at the helm.

We are quite fond of Bucky Badger here at UW-Madison. Even the 3D printers get in on the fun!
We are quite fond of our mascot, Bucky Badger, at UW-Madison. Even the 3D printers get in on the fun!

Most of all I hope my contribution to this community scholars will be to encourage conversation. The Public Library of Science’s commitment to open science and innovative approaches to assessment, organization, and reuse of ideas aligns perfectly with the Synthetic Biology community’s prevailing open-source ethos. Hopefully my posts provoke deep thinking, and discussion. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with critiques or suggestions. I look forward to interacting with the movers and the shakers in the SynBio space!


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