What is Bioengineering?

Written by Rick Henrikson on June 21st, 2009 Posted in Productivity, Science

Summer is for SCIENCE
It’s the first day of summer, and it’s high time I finally joined the big conversation happening on the internet.  Sure, I’ve been participating semi-passively through google reader, facebook, friendfeed, twitter, etc. for a while now.  I have alpha and beta accounts with just about every newfangled web service in existence.  But now I’d like to pour a little bit of my voice into this shiny new blog.  Yes, a blog.  I’ve finally caught up with the 90’s.  I think I’m ready to tackle some topics that require a little more than 140 characters.

Why Blog?

I’m a big fan of Seth Godin (a popular marketing guru).  One of his many nuggets of wisdom that has stuck with me relates to the cost of now.  Basically, you pay a high price to get something sooner.  For me, I have some sort of unhealthy thirst for information that leads me to be constantly tapped into the next big thing in science & technology.  I willingly jam my mouth right in the firehose’s path.  And doing this puts me in a unique position to process and assess cutting-edge ideas and technologies.  Seth warns that if you pay the price for this information, you should do what you can to leverage it:

Sometimes, in our quest for the new, we overpay. Most of the time, moving down the curve will decrease your costs dramatically, without hurting your ability to make smart decisions. Alternatively, when you choose to spend the time (or money), leverage it like crazy.

– Seth Godin, The high cost of now

Right now I share what I learn with close friends and through a slightly larger network on Google Reader.  But now I think it’s time for me to put more of my own ideas in writing.  Obviously my primary motivation here is to get some boss street cred, but I also hope to contribute something practical to the lives of my readers.  You’re drowning in a sea of science and technology, and I’ll be your lifeboat.  Or at least positively buoyant.  Like a stick.  A floating stick named Rick.

Science, Technology, and Productivity in Bioengineering

So let’s start with some background.  I’m a bioengineer.  If you don’t know what that is, it’s probably because nobody has really defined it that well yet.  It’s a painfully nebulous term that covers everything from genomics to computational biology to prosthetic limb replacement.  If it involves biology in any combination with mechanics, chemistry, physics, electrostatics, computer science, or business, people can and have categorized it as “bioengineering”.  I specifically place myself in the neat little area of biomolecular phenomena, explored through the lens of micro- and nano-fabricated materials and structures.  I basically put things like DNA and proteins in small chambers to try and make some sweet tools for applications like rapid, inexpensive diagnostics.

As a bioengineer you often find yourself at the interface of ologies, ometries, and omicses.   It’s all part of the Bio2.0 bubble.  Want more funding?  Make up a word.  Add a convincing suffix and you’re all set.  We’re drowning in acronyms and initiatives to the point where nothing means anything anymore.  What’s really up with cancer?  What about HIV?  Why can’t I just clone an extra liver for the weekends?  When will I get my genome and what the hell am I going to do with it?  Science hasn’t always had the best record when it comes to public relations.  Hopefully I can leverage some of my interests and expertise to shine some light in this oftentimes shady expanse.

To improve the science, though, I also believe in the power of working smarter, not harder.  This drives me to optimize the tools I use on a daily basis so that I can get more for dime my time (TM).  More perk for my work (TM).  More spinach for my minutes (TM).  More pepper for my effort (TM).  Man, I could do this all day.  And for this, I apologize.  I don’t even know what pepper would be in that analogy.

Back to the point, I currently share these tools with friends and family in a pretty low-throughput manner.  But now, with OverExpressed, I’m making a one-stop-shop for all of this information.  Hopefully you can find something useful here, and if you have any comments or feedback, you can’t overexpress them enough.  Ha.

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