Hyperconnected Field Trip
MIT’s Plasma Science Fusion Center and Ginkgo Bioworks

The April 11 field trip will be a two-part affair, featuring science and engineering of tomorrow in buildings of yesteryear—a former candy factory, in one case, and a repurposed naval warehouse, in the other.

MIT’s Plasma Science Fusion Center
Dennis Whyte and his team of fusion researchers will provide a tour of the Center’s tokomak reactor, the materials and magnetic field required to contain the plasma, the control room where scientists oversee experiments, and research labs devising new targets and beam formations. We will also learn about Whyte’s vision for the future of fusion research in which bigger (i.e., ITER) is not necessarily better for reaching the goal of energy-positive fusion.

Ginkgo Bioworks
Through genetic modification and considerable automation, the “organism foundry” uses a design–build–test model for nurturing yeast and microbes to produce desired natural products. We’ll tour the firm’s second-generation lab (and peek into the still-under-construction third-gen lab) to see (1) how they choose optimal enzymes—and their associated genes—to design into their bespoke organisms, (2) the automation of sequencing, pipetting, liquid transfer, and associated components of the build operation, and (3) the testing operation that confirms the production of desired natural products along with the bank of mini-fermenters for optimizing this novel production mechanism. We will have the opportunity to sample aromas being devised for the perfume, cosmetics, and flavor industries as well as learn about potential biomedical directions.

12:00 PM Buses depart from hotel
12:15 PM Tour begins
3:45 PM Buses return to hotel (approximate arrival, 4:00 PM)