Sculpting Evolution

Advancing Biotechnology Safely

We are committed biotechnologists who:

  • Catalyze beneficial advances by applying robotics and machine learning to evolve new molecular tools and techniques

  • Apply molecules, models, and cryptography to defend against pandemics and prevent the catastrophic misuse of biotechnology

  • Work with the guidance of interested communities to safely and humanely edit wild populations and ecosystems

To learn more, dive into our research or publications, meet the group, read our philosophy, or donate to support our work.

Contact: sculpting-admin[at]media.mit.edu


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Our goal is to thoughtfully ascend the tree of knowledge. We must accelerate our harvest of beneficial technological fruits to sustain, protect, and improve civilization, while refraining from exploring branches harboring advances so powerful and accessible that they pose catastrophic risks. In other words, we must learn to sculpt the evolution of biotechnology.

Lab News

30 November 2021

We now have a somewhat functional if interim website following the design of Google Sites Classic. We're still working on finding a professional to redesign it for us - if you're enthused by our work, please contact sculpting-admin[at]media.mit.edu.

We're excited to welcome several new faces. Vikram Sundar joins us from the Computational and Systems Biology program, and will be focusing on evolutionary simulations and machine learning models. Summer DeAmelio joined us as a full-time lab technician in June, and has delighted everyone by gifting the lab with twice-weekly nanopore sequencing runs. Christy Dennison, an expert machine learning engineer formerly of OpenAI, has joined us as an M.Eng. student. William Bradshaw is a former collaborator on bidirectional contact tracing and genetic attribution who will be focusing on future biosecurity and the Nucleic Acid Observatory. Zac Hill, our new Director of Transgenesis, will be working closely with Joanna on Mice Against Ticks and Sebastian on Project Rarity, as well as generating new strains to test daisy drive approaches. In February, we will welcome Devanand Bondage, a specialist in mammalian engineering and host-pathogen interactions.

We're deeply grateful to Bill Lombardi for helping keep everything running smoothly through the pandemic. We are now looking to hire a lab Chief Operating Officer, an Executive Assistant, and multiple Research Scientists for the Nucleic Acid Observatory.

Why Sculpt Evolution?

Evolution gave rise to every living thing and all of human culture, but evolved systems are very different from those designed by humans. They're harder to predict and to design, and exhibit a frustrating tendency to evolve away from engineered behaviors. At the same time, harnessing and directing evolution can generate useful organisms and molecular tools that we could never have rationally designed.

Our laboratory seeks to understand why systems evolve in the ways that they do, to develop tools capable of precisely intervening in the evolution of ecosystems, and to cultivate wisdom sufficient to know whether, when, and how to proceed.