101 Project Ideas

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Biophysics 101 project ideas

I think Jeremy came up with a good suggestion on his discussion page:

One potential outcome of this course is to develop a biotechnology solution to a core socio-economic problem facing the world. I was blown away by the article on Widescale Biodiesel Production from Algae (http://www.unh.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html). The beauty of the article is that all the usual criticisms of alternative energy were addressed up-front and convincingly in a well-presented engineering case study. I am very interested in understanding the issues behind the few remaining technical hurdles and seeing if our combined expertise can resolve them. It seems that the economic case for Biodiesel could be fleshed out using the heuristic back-of-the envelope arguments in the article as the basis for a more rigorous model. Furthermore, the environmental impact of a large-scale deployment of Biodiesel could be examined more closely, if any climate models of carbon emissions are freely available. The metabolic engineering of algae is of great interest to me, and according to the DOE Aquatic Species Program (http://www.nrel.gov/docs/legosti/fy98/24190.pdf), one of the main obstacles to widescale deployment is the high cost of algae production. The final project for this course could be the development of a model that predicts radical increases in production rates using metabolic flux analysis optimization techniques.

In Jeremy's idea I think it might be useful to look at the economic flow from a global perspective. I have made a preliminary draft on my page

  • describe your idea for the class project

The Draft

Working Title: Prove, Predict, prioritize, practice Breaking barriers & building bridges

Prove, predict: Connect problems, technologies, modeling options Example: Evolution - replicating &/or intelligent machines stem cells, abortion Model: Quantitatively define life.

Prioritize, practice: Metabolic networks Example: Carbon & Energy Model: Multilevel from molecular to global.

Prioritize: Privacy vs openess Example: Personal genomics Model: Evolutionary conservation, etc.

Prioritize, practice: Synthetic Biology & chemistry Examples: biosecurity, bioterrorism, GMOs Withholding experimental drugs (e.g. HIV & Cancer) Substance abuse, Vioxx Models: Risk & benefit, systems models