#10: DBTL

Synthetic biology, the field in which I work, focuses on trying to systematically make biology easier to engineer in order to try to tackle some of humanity’s biggest problems. Early efforts focused on trying to develop BioBricks, drawing analogies to electrically engineering methodologies of having a set of connectable, interchangeable, and well-characterized parts to construct genetic circuits. However, since biology has historically been noisy and unpredictable, many iterations of testing are frequently required even for ‘optimized’ parts.

Thus much of the field follows a Design-Build-Test (DBT) cycle approach to biological engineering.

Genetic circuits are digitally ‘Designed’, linking libraries of DNA parts together on a computer. These are then ‘Built’ using molecular cloning techniques. Finally, they are ‘Tested’ and the data acquired helps inform the new designs. Recently, this cycle has had a makeover to become DBTL, or Design-Build-Test-Learn, by incorporating machine learning into the data analysis to better inform the next round of designs.

After ten days of blogging, I’m trying to apply a DBTL-style approach to how I prepare and write these. If I can optimize systems to make the process easier, then the reduced time and energy requirement will make it easier to continue, particularly as I move into other challenges. I’m currently using Notion to organize the project and have a simple template that I can load for each day to fill in basic ideas, include research and links, and write a draft before moving it over to WordPress. (If any of you are interested in using Notion for note-taking, project planning, etc., I’ve enjoyed my experience so far. I’m not sponsored or anything but if you decide to try it, I get a credit if you use this link.)

My current empty Template Design

Over the weekend I’ll look to update my template and make the organization a little tighter, but since I’m not using machine learning, I would love to ‘Learn’ any organizational or project planning tools and techniques that you use. Always nice to get help from friends.

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