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Engineering | Undergraduate Research

Brandon Dorr, Travel Grant

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Brandon Dorr, Travel Grant

Biomedical Engineering major, Barrett Honors student, and FURI researcher Brandon Dorr recently attended the Synthetic Biology: Engineering, Evolution & Design (SEED) in Vancouver, the city in British Columbia, Canada. He presented his presentation, “Inducible Genome Modification Utilizing Engineering Ty1 Retrotransposons in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae,” under the mentorship of Dr. Xiao Wang, an expert in systems and synthetic biology. We asked Brandon to share some details about his research and experience.

In layman terms, what was the conference about?    

Synthetic Biology: Engineering, Evolution, and Design (SEED) is a conference dedicated to the current developments within the field of Synthetic biology, including novel research, tools, and applications.

What motivated you to participate in this event?

Presenting at this conference was an excellent opportunity to connect with researchers within the field of Synthetic Biology, and speak about current research interests.

What presentations did you attend?  

Dr. David Baker’s presentation about determining folded protein structures demonstrated how close the field is to de novo protein design. The ability to accurately design protein folding structures just based on the amino acid sequence can allow for the design of order of magnitudes more proteins with novel functions compared to current techniques. As this research progresses, I will keep it in mind as it would be a powerful tool for almost all projects!

Dr. Mo Khalil talked about new ways to read and write epigenetic markers. This can allow for increased regulatory control over gene expression and cell states. When looking to modify gene expression an epigenetic solution could be versatile!

What was the best part about the conference?

The opportunity to connect with other researchers during breaks was influential. Speaking to graduate students within the field about their experiences was beneficial for guiding my future steps. In addition, the opportunity to speak with professors from across the nation, and directly hear from them about their current research was insightful!

How has your involvement with this conference influenced your research plans?

Over the past year, I have learned I am interested in moving into industry, rather than academia. This conference has been influential in showing me some opportunities within industry, as well the current scope in Synthetic Biology research. I was able to meet both graduate students and professors involved with interesting research!

Is there anything you wish you knew before attending the conference? 

Attending a conference is a great opportunity to explore a new city! After the conclusion of the day’s activities, a walk can be exciting.

Any suggestions for other students regarding conferences? 

Conferences are a great opportunity to learn about the current edge of research and also interact with the community involved in the field. Interacting with other researchers from other institutions can be incredibly valuable both intellectually and professionally.

Going to a conference? Have research-related travel needs? Apply for the Undergraduate Research Travel Grant!


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