Field of Science

Changing Projects

My synthetic biology project has pretty much ended now, bar the handover. I've got a little more lab work to do (still have one more restriction site in the MelA gene, and I'll have a bit to do when my vio DNA arrives) but the majority of work in that direction is over...I now have a week of safety talks to prepare me for my next project: back safely in the field of bacteria-antibiotic interactions.

I've enjoyed this project. It's been fun, I've got to meet new people, and I've learnt a lot of new and very useful techniques, particularly involved in genetic manipulation (ligation, restriction, PCR etc). I've also learnt something very important. That wherever the winding road of life may take me, it is unlikely to take me very far in the direction of synthetic biology.

It's an interesting and very exciting field, it's just not one I feel I could survive a project in. These ten weeks have been long enough, now that the novelty has worn off, I'm beginning to realise that this just isn't the area of science I'm interested in. I like exploring bacteria, how they work, what they do, how they interact with the world around them. Synthetic bacteria doesn't really cover that; it uses bacteria, sure, but only as DNA-expressing chassis for carefully constructed molecular circuits. Circuits just don't hold my interest for the length required for an in-depth project.

I can see how it could be an interesting field, for engineers becoming excited in the natural world, or biologists who suddenly realise they have a passion for circuitry and building biological machines. But not for nerdy little microbiologists who get far too excited about how bacteria behave in the worlds they inhabit, how they deal with the dangers and the changes and the constraints of the physical world.

I can't wait to get into my new lab. A whole week of safety talks is going to irritating...

1 comment:

Captain Skellett said...

I second that - I've always been more interested in studying life than manipulating it to do things we want it to.