101 Project Ideas

From FreeBio


Biophysics 101 project ideas

Section 29-Sep-2005

New sources of energy and Biodiesel

Sub projects

  • environmental impact
  • bioremediation

Personalized medicine and Stem Cells

Sub projects

  • personalized medicine in general
  • engineer personalized medicine?
  • how to =fund= personalized medicine?
  • M. Kremer - might be interested - creating incentives for pharma
  • Sue Goldie - better modeling
  • oneworld http://www.oneworldhealth.org/


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 of a diagram describing the biodiesel production on my page.--Msommer 20:46, 28 Sep 2005 (EDT)

A few thoughts on a biodiesel project. The paper referred to doesn't really spell out and account for all the less-obvious costs that would have to go into creating algae farms across the continent. It might also be worth brainstorming some unintended consequences that might come from replacing petrodiesel with algae-derived biodiesel. One problem with algae-derived biodiesel (and one could say that this is a stupid problem from the point of view of scientists) is that algae farms are weird and ugly. What are the relative merits of growing oil from algae versus from vascular plants such as rapeseed or soybeans?

Biodiesel also requires ethanol in the mixture. Many energy experts believe that ethanol actually uses more liquid-fuel energy to produce and transport it than it provides through internal combustion. It would be worth considering ethanol's effect on the overall energy and cost equations, as well as finding the work of some ethanoloskeptics who have already done lots of work in finding not-immediately-obvious costs in producing something like ethanol. --Jleith 01:05, 29 Sep 2005 (EDT)

  • 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