Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Mother's Day and the Impact of Biological Engineering

There are so many ways to interpret "biological engineering". It can mean using modified natural enzymes to allow us to mutate proteins to change calcium binding, it can mean observing double stranded break topologies using fluorescence, and it can even mean creating battery active material using viral scaffolds.

A novel approach to DNA analysis.
Regardless of the specifics of how we utilize the tools given to us by biological engineering, all these applications have one thing in common – they use things found in biology to improve life on earth. This is the part of biological engineering that draws me in and excites me the most. The prospect of harnessing the awesome stuff already found in nature to fix problems we’ve caused, like clearing out landfill waste with fungi, or problems caused by our own biology, like using blood pH changes to help treat diabetes, is what makes me passionate about biological engineering.

I’ve been expressing my love for biology and biological engineering to my family for a while, so when they’ve been growing their understanding of biological engineering as I grow mine. On Mother’s Day, my mom posted a picture of mitochondrial DNA looking like the universe on Facebook, and I freaked out a little bit inside. 

It was really exciting to see her embrace the concept of mitochondrial DNA being linked to motherhood and to see some manifestation of my love of biology in her. To me the greatest impact of biological engineering is being able to use biology to fix a problem that will ultimately drastically change a person’s life for the better.

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