Synthetic biology, the purposeful engineering of organisms, may or may not pose security concerns to people, states, and the environment. Whether it does, and what is done about it, are the subject of this area of work. I use a mix of participant observation, ethnography, textual and discourse analysis, and interviews to understand and engage with the synthetic biology community (including government, synthetic biologists, industry, other social scientists, and NGOs).
Of particular focus are understanding how areas of research and innovation get constructed as either being a security concern or not. Who makes these decisions, and what ramifications does this categorization have for governing the innovation process?
Specific areas of focus include research going on inside the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc), the Synthetic Biology Leadership Excellence Accelerator Program (LEAP), and the international Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) student competition.