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Dean's Centennial Seminar Series Welcomes Michael Jewett and Josh Leonard

Michael Jewett and Josh Leonard, assistant professors of chemical and biological engineering and the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University, will present a lecture on the emerging field of synthetic biology as part of the Dean's Centennial Seminar Series.

Their lecture, titled, "Biology by Design: Challenges and Opportunities in Synthetic Biology," will take place on Tuesday, March 2 at 4 p.m. in the ITW classroom in the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center.

Synthetic biology is a new discipline that enables the design and construction of engineered biological systems so that they perform new and different functions. These new systems could help address some of humanity's most significant challenges: clean and sustainable energy, advanced and affordable medications and therapies, environmental stewardship, and renewable materials. It's a field that involves not only biologists and engineers but also mathematicians, physicists, computer scientists, and ethicists.

Watch a video of Jewett and Leonard talking about synthetic biology:

Jewett and Leonard will discuss challenges and opportunities in synthetic biology and will ask questions such as, How should we go about designing and building engineered biological systems? To what extent can we engineer our own biology? How can we extend the chemistry of life beyond that of natural biology? What fundamental biological understanding, new enabling technologies, and computation tools are necessary?

"At the end of the day, the research that's coming out of synthetic biology will help people," Jewett says. "And I think that's important."