I'm a synthetic biologist, plant scientist & science-writer who's also interested in shaping policy.
Contact me at: devangmehta[AT]ualberta.ca
I'm a systems & synthetic biologist by training and recently completed my PhD in Plant Biotechnology at ETH Zurich. I'm interested in studying how complex biological systems work and interact and want to try and apply this knowledge to solve global problems using new biotechnology.
Currently, I am trying to unravel the G-value paradox in plants, and trying to discover the mechanisms by which plants (and other eukaryotes) produce complexity while having a limited set of genes. I want to use this knowledge to "fine-tune" plant metabolism.
For my PhD, I've worked on the tropical plant cassava, which feeds about a billion people worldwide. I've analysed different genetic engineering approaches to tackle virus disease in cassava, particularly in the context of complex virus populations. I have also invented a new DNA sequencing method which enables in-depth, accurate analysis of plant virus genomes.
I write stories describing cutting-edge advances in biology while also discussing ethical and political issues that often accompany new technology and the modern scientific process. My work has been published by Slate, Salon, Massive and The Wire.
I've moderated and participated in several Open Discussions about the newest advances in biotechnology and a number of public events. I think it's terribly important to have these discussions with the public, but also encourage debate within the scientific community.