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October 4, 2018 – Synthetic Biology and Design Thinking: Multidisciplinary Paradigms and Possibilities

Are you curious about the intersection of design thinking and synthetic biology? While we understand that designers are trained to focus on people and their experiences, and recognize what technology can become a product, how people might use the product, and what, if any, relationships might ensue. We get that biological design is often associated with experimental design, which is associated with statistical validity. And, we’ve come to know that synthetic biology relies on engineering techniques which are, arguably, both superficial and concrete. Some would say that design thinking and synthetic biology are fundamentally different, while others would claim their inherent intersection. We believe design thinking and synthetic biology have clearly joined forces. So, where are we now and where are we going? What is the dominant paradigm? We have the power and know-how to manipulate living things. Are artificial forms of life what we seek? Why? Why not? How can and should we best proceed?

As part of SynBioBeta week, please join our SynBioBeta 2018 satellite session, for an evening of learning, engaging, and expanding. Our multidisciplinary experts will lead us in discussion, followed by a short hands-on workshop. We’ll also provide a tour of our Innovation Labs and BSL2 lab, which continues to inform how we integrate synthetic biology and other disciplines, and why we believe that traditional disciplines can reinforce one other, create new thinking, stretch the borders of “doable”, and thus, allow us to build new “things”.

About the Panelists

Ryan McGuinness, Practice Lead, In Vitro Technologies, and VP, Science Technology, Agility Labs, has spent 30 years in the North American Biotechnology, Medical Device R&D and Product Development industries. He has worked within many companies that have applied novel technologies for a range of markets, including cell and gene therapies, biotherapeutics and biotech instrumentation. At Triple Ring Technologies, Ryan leads a team of world class scientists and engineers who work at the intersection of complex biology and cutting edge technology. Within the Agility Labs incubator, a subsidiary of Triple Ring Technologies, Ryan helps select the brightest start-ups for participation in the incubator. As an active participant in the Silicon Valley innovation ecosystem, Ryan also spends time connecting early stage companies to the infrastructure, know-how and funding needed to successfully bring new products to market. Ryan was trained in genetics and molecular cell biology at the University of California at Davis.

Hunter Whitney is a design strategist, instructor, and author who brings a distinct UX design perspective to data visualization and analytics. He has advised corporations, start-ups, government agencies, and NGOs to help them achieve their goals through a thoughtful, strategic design approach to digital products and services.

Hunter is also a writer and the author of “Data Insights: New Ways to Visualize and Make Sense of Data”. Additionally, he was asked to contribute a chapter in the book, “Designing for Emerging Technologies: UX for Genomics, Robotics, and the Internet of Things”. Other writing experience includes copywriting and numerous articles covering a range of subjects for various online and print publications.

Hunter’s teaching experience includes being the instructor for a classroom course, “Design Thinking and UX Strategy” for UC Berkeley Extension. He is also an instructor and curriculum advisor for data visualization and UX design programs with UC Davis on Coursera. In addition, Hunter a guest lecturer for Northeastern University’s Level Analytics Bootcamps.

Sunil Maulik, PhD, has over twenty-five years of experience in Silicon Valley. He teaches workshops on product design for long-term behavior change in the technology and healthcare industries. He is a mentor and advisor to over 50 startups. He has helped start five companies (two IPOs, two acquisitions, one spectacular failure!) Sunil is a director and advisor at The Innovation Center Denmark, and at Designit, a Danish design services firm with offices in 13 countries. Sunil has guest-lectured at the Stanford d-school, U.C. Berkeley, and at the University of Amsterdam (THNQ.) Sunil founded and ran GeneEd, the first e-learning company for the life-sciences (acquired by Campbell Alliance). Sunil is currently invested in ModuleQ, KptnCook, BrainAid and People Power Co. He has held management positions at Pangea Systems, Tripos (NASDAQ:TRPS), Hoffmann-La Roche (NYSE: ROCHE), Oxford Molecular (LSE: OXMOL), and IntelliGenetics. He has degrees in Physics, Biology, X-ray Crystallography and Biophysics. Sunil’s research on antibody engineering helped contribute to two therapeutic monoclonal antibodies receiving clinical approval. He has been a recipient (along with John Teeter and Gene Wang) of a $1.45MM ARPA-E SBIR; and with Banny Banerjee of the Stanford d-school, a GE “Ecomagination” award.

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