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Thomas Knight

Science Talent Search – 1965

About Thomas Knight

Thomas Knight is a computer science pioneer and the godfather of synthetic biology. After competing in STS in 1965 with an electroencephalograph (EEG) he built himself, Knight studied and taught at MIT. There, he worked in the emerging computer science field, developing the internet precursor, ARPANET. In the 1990s, Knight became interested in biology and leveraged his computer science background to create BioBricks, a type of DNA building block, and established the MIT Registry of Standard Biological Parts. In 2009, he co-founded Ginkgo Bioworks, which produces revolutionary organisms for commercial use. Ginkgo Bioworks went public in 2021 with the ticker symbol DNA. Knight is also co-founder of the international science competition iGEM.

Science Talent Search 1965

A photo of Knight with his EEG from his STS project report.

Notable Alumni - Thomas Knight

The Future of Synthetic Biology

For Knight, transitioning from electrical engineering to technology through biology was a natural step to stay ahead of technology trends.

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YouTube screen shot - Notable Alumni - Thomas Knight
New England Biolabs via YouTube
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Signature Event

Knight speaking on a panel at the Society’s 2018 Signature Event. He said, “It almost doesn’t matter what it is — if you feel like working on cars or writing programs, great. Do something, make something. Take things apart and use the pieces to make something else.”

Notable Alumni - Thomas Knight