Tom Knight, Godfather Of Synthetic Biology, On How To Learn Something New
It was partly frustration with designing silicon chips that led Tom Knight to the study of biology. A senior research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Knight started working in MIT’s AI Lab while he was in high school. As an MIT student and faculty member, in the ’60s and ’70s Knight was a co-engineer of ARPANET, a precursor of the Internet, and helped design the first commercial single-user computer workstations, eventually earning more than 30 patents for his work in computer science and electrical engineering. In the 1990s, Knight became fascinated with biology, went back to school, and set up a molecular biology lab within MIT’s computer science lab. There, Knight invented BioBricks–standardized DNA “parts” that make up a kind of free operating system for biotechnology.