I'm a synthetic biologist, plant scientist & science-writer who's also interested in shaping policy.
I'm a systems & synthetic biologist by training and am about to complete 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.
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've also looked at how the cassava plant responds to virus infection at the transcriptional level and identified pathways to resistance.
At the same time, I've invented a new sequencing method which can accurately identify hundreds of virus molecules without any prior knowledge. This method has the potential for studying a lot of different viruses including the Human Papillomaviruses as well as identify sources of antibiotic resistance. Right now I'm trying to use it to study 'jumping genes' in plants.
I write long-form 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 on Slate, Salon, Massive and other media outlets.
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.