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Engineering biology?: exploring rhetoric, practice, constraints and collaborations within a synthetic biology research centre

Finlay, Susanna Claire (2013) Engineering biology?: exploring rhetoric, practice, constraints and collaborations within a synthetic biology research centre. Engineering Studies, 5 (1). pp. 26-41. ISSN 1937-8629

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Identification Number: 10.1080/19378629.2013.763811

Abstract

Drawing on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork within a UK academic synthetic biology research centre, and 22 interviews with its inhabitants, this paper explores the ways in which the application of an engineering approach to biology is understood, spoken about, and enacted by a group of synthetic biologists. Motivated by the idea of producing 'interesting', 'useful', and above all, 'industrialisable' biological 'products', these synthetic biologists are attempting to adhere to a rational design cycle of work while embracing ideas and concepts drawn from an idealised notion of engineering. In this paper, I show that attempting to bring engineers and biologists together in order to take an 'engineering approach' to biology has impacted on the way these collective synthetic biologists speak about biology (as something that can be engineered) and undertake their day-to-day work, affecting the questions they ask, the experiments they conduct, the models they produce, and the data they collect. However, as this paper discusses, their collaborative approach to working comes with both compromises and constraints.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/test20
Additional Information: © 2013 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2013 11:32
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2019 01:44
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/48762

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