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Biotech Symposium Assignment

Synthetic biology has emerged only recently as an engineering discipline. At this point, the field has more potential than accomplishment. Some people see an incredible potential that includes cures for diseases, biosynthetic fuels and houses that are grown from gourds. Other people question the safety of a process that involves altering genomes. There are some key enabling technologies, like DNA synthesis, that will make the building of biology easier — so easy that anyone could biohack the living world. But what happens then? Asked another way: what can you envision as the best and the worst outcomes for our world if we get good at coding cells in scalable, reliable and robust ways. And are there things we can do to tip the balance towards better outcomes?

Your assignment is to investigate synthetic biology using some or all of the following resources:


Decoding Synthetic Biology
Synthetic Biology Explained
Thinking Big


What is synthetic biology?

A Life of Its Own

Biology's Brave New World [pdf]

Our Synthetic Futures [pdf]

Exotic Scents Made From Re-engineered Yeast [pdf]

Faking Organisms

Hand-made biology

The Risks and Rewards of Synthetic Biology

Write an essay in which you address this question: Do the potential contributions to society warrant the potential risks inherent in synthetic biology?

As you write the essay be sure to:

  • Provide an overview of the field of synthetic biology.
  • Describe some of synthetic biology's potential benefits.
  • Describe some of synthetic biology's potential risks.
  • Take a stand on the balance of risk to reward and explain your argument
Students in Mr. Dove's Class please submit your article by placing it in your Google Drive Folder.

Adapted from: http://biobuilder.org/bioethics-essay-assignment/