I met the fantastic people at TASML in Tsinghua. I gave a short talk about biotechnology and design, and then let the students loose on some real world problems matched with some real world scientific research.
A few years ago, I was part of the Nobelini project that introduced the two disciplines in a speed dating format. The person I ended up meeting there was Heather, founder of Wayward Plants. I’m a big believer in the interaction between science and design. We have already seen some pretty incredible collaborations so far – if you are in need of convincing why not have a look at a moss-powered radio?
Most of the students at TASML there came from interdisciplinary backgrounds – physicists, computer scientists, designers but not biologists. It was really interesting to see their thinking to the challenges of air, soil and water pollution and how they interpreted the research.
Having run this workshop once, I would like to repeat it in some way. Of course it is better with the real scientists present, rather than just representing their papers. The whole foundation of this area lies in communication though. If you are in a design school, and lucky enough to have access to pubmed, and can access scientific papers that is one thing. Deciphering them is another.
Without a doubt iGEM has pushed these fields closer together and as I was in Beijing, I was following along with the news from the jamboree.