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Tom Knight

Chairman, Ginko Bioworks
The Right Thing: Things We Hit, Things We Missed, Things Still Left To Do
Tom Knight worked in the MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department as senior research scientist and professor until 2010, focusing on the development of novel computing structures at the technology, architectural, and programming levels.  As a computer architect and VLSI designer, he was a founder and technical director at Symbolics, Exa, Polychip, High Speed Solutions, and Scalable Displays.  He was responsible for early time-shared operating systems, bitmapped displays, the Lisp Machine, interconnection networks based on expanders, reversible computers, and transactional memory systems.

25 years ago, he started applying his engineering experience to the field of biology, naming his work synthetic biology. In 2002, he developed and popularized the first standardized assembly technique for functional DNA fragments, Biobricks, and established the MIT Registry of Standard Biological Parts, leading to a educational competition, IGEM. He has a continuing interest in understanding, reverse engineering, and rebuilding simple organisms, specifically the mollicute Mesoplasma florum. He is a founder of Ginkgo Bioworks, and, after retiring from MIT, is working there full time.  He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a director of the IGEM Foundation and of Genspace, and a member of the
International Committee on the Taxonomy of the Mollicutes.