Cambridge website for Synthetic Biology resources

Compiled by Jim Haseloff at the University of Cambridge. SpannerPlantLogo140This site contains details of recent papers and activity in Synthetic Biology, with particular emphasis on: (i) development of standards in biology and DNA parts, (ii) microbial and (iii) plant systems, (iv) research and teaching in the field at the University of Cambridge, (v) hardware for scientific computing and instrumentation, (vi) tools for scientific productivity and collected miscellany.

Similar to the Cambridge-based Raspberry Pi and OpenLabTools initiatives, we promote the use of low cost and open source tools - in our case for use in biological engineering.

Google: Synthetic Biology news

Run mouse over list to see previews, click for full article.

Video: To Enable the Robo-Insects of the Future, Researchers Capture Butterfly Flight at 3,000 FPS

Micro Aerial Vehicles Like Harvard's 'Mobee' Could Be Improved By Studying the Way Butterflies Fly via Harvard Microrobotics Lab

Neither bio-mimicking robots nor insect-analog micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) are new concepts. But where super high-speed video capture, competitive figure skating, and lepidopterology collide, there PopSci shall be. Today, that means turning our attention to Johns Hopkins University, where engineering undergrad Tiras Lin is potentially shaking up insect-like aerial robot design.

For a proper visual explanation of what Lin and colleagues are up to, the video below is thorough. But briefly: DARPA and other defense- and public safety-related research entities in both the public and private sectors have been exploring the idea of tiny, sensor-capable drones the size of aircraft for years now (regular readers have read about many of them on this site). But actually recreating mechanically the kind of flight achieved by insects is notoriously difficult.

Users want MAVs they can pilot through complex urban environments, where the variables--obstacles, tight spaces, variable air pressure and wind speeds--make it difficult to fly. Wishing to tap real insects' tricks, mechanical engineering junior Lin crossed over into entomology, using a high-speed camera array to capture butterfly flight--wing flapping, body deformation, and anything else that contributes to mass distribution as a butterfly moves through the air.

His high-speed rig allowed him to capture 3,000 one-megapixel images per second (compare that to 24 frames per second for standard video), allowing him to dissect the forces at play as the butterflies flapped their wings roughly 25 times per second. Using three cameras, he was able to capture three dimensional data and analyze the way butterflies' bodies and wings move in sync to provide them with their maneuverability.

His findings? Butterflies appear to be very much like figure skaters, using angular momentum as they flap their wings to modify their moments of inertia (this is akin to figure skaters tucking their arms to increase the speed of their spins and outstretching them to slow their rotation--essentially manipulating their rotation by redistributing mass). This refutes earlier assumptions that a butterfly's wings don't have enough mass relative to their bodies to be a factor in maneuverability. And it just might change the way roboticists approach robo-insect design going forward.

Much more via the video below.

Video: To Enable the Robo-Insects of the Future, Researchers Capture Butterfly Flight at 3,000 FPS

(Via Popular Science -.)

Research news at Cambridge University

Run mouse over list to see previews, click for full article.

European Association of Students & Postdocs in Synthetic Biology (EUSynBioS)

EUSynBioSprelimLogo240The European Association of Students & Postdocs in Synthetic Biology (EUSynBioS) invites you to join its pre-launch community. The EUSynBioS initiative seeks to shape and foster a network of young researchers active the nascent scientific discipline of synthetic biology within the European Union by means of providing an integrative central resource for interaction and professional development.

Key objectives of EUSynBioS include i) the implementation of a central web platform for sharing news and opportunities relevant to members of the community as well as for academic networking, ii) the arrangement and support of events for academic exchange and professional development, iii) liaison with representatives of industry, and iv) establishment of a primary contact for collaboration and exchange with related communities of synthetic biology students and postdocs abroad.

Registering as a member is free and can be completed within 30 seconds via the following link Students and postdocs who register as a EUSynBioS member will be able to:
o Access a large network of young researchers in synthetic biology for academic collaboration and exchange
o Share technical resources and teaching materials
o Stay informed about relevant events such as conferences, workshops, or social outings o Browse relevant jobs in academia and industry
o Use site visits and mentoring opportunities to interact with prospective employers
o Connect with members of related communities all over the world

By registering as a member prior to the official launch of EUSynBioS, you will not only make a statement of support which will have an impact on the resources available to the community in the future; you will also be given the chance to actively shape EUSynBioS right from the start, and have an edge when applying for a position on the Steering Committee. We are looking forward to your joining us ! Christian Boehm, University of Cambridge.