Leveraging biology to power engineering effect | Jobs Vox


Cathy F. Photo by Atkinson | Illustration by Joey Smoker

From advances in genome editing with CRISPR to new robotic designs that draw inspiration from the animal kingdom, innovations at the interface of engineering and biology have transformed modern life and impacted many areas such as health care, agriculture and technology . But despite this rapid progress, the sheer number and complexity of the challenges facing the world – from climate change to infectious diseases – require bold, new, creative strategies.

To identify fundamental research gaps and nascent opportunities, especially in areas where engineers can lead, 128 experts met for a two-day virtual visioning event in March 2022. Convened by the Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA) and co-hosted by the University of Delaware, Johns Hopkins University, University City Science Center, and Waters Corporation, the event was called “Leveraging Biology to Power Engineering Impact” and focused on combining life with engineering. Identified strategic research priorities that merge breakthroughs in science. Details of these priorities and future research directions were recently published in a Final Report and Executive Summary.

“What are the questions that researchers working at the intersection of biology and engineering should be exploring to improve the human condition?” Impossible Things,” which included complex scenarios such as “Lifespans are no longer defined by zip codes” and “Any-Town USA manufactures all the chemicals and materials it needs from plants grown nearby.”

Dozens of engineering research priorities are outlined in the final report, which is organized around three research domains: bio-inspired/informed, reproducibility of biology, and improvement of biology. (The gene editing tool called CRISPR is an acronym for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”.) Proposed research strategies to address each of the eight “impossible things” positively impact through bold research provide a snapshot of an ideal future, and subsequent innovation, at the intersection of biology and engineering.

“The University of Delaware College of Engineering has a long history of creative and impactful innovation,” said Levi Thompson, Dean and Elizabeth Inez Professor of Chemical Engineering in UD’s College of Engineering and ERVA Visioning event co-host. “Research-intensive universities have a special responsibility to focus on practical outcomes that make a difference to people and the environment. By gathering some of the brightest minds in engineering and science, we look forward to exploring exciting avenues to make the impossible possible.” Were able to recommend.”

“Leveraging Biology to Power Engineering Impact” is the second report to be released in 2022 by ERVA, a five-year initiative funded through a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation to help identify future engineering research directions. Is. To download the report or read the executive summary, visit the ERVA Community website.


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