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In our DNA: Gary Mills, Director of Software Engineering

August 18, 2021  |  Codex DNA

Team member: Gary Mills, Director of Software Engineering

What do you do at Codex DNA?
I work on the BioXp™ system, both the 3200 and 3250. My team works on the software and scripting that run the protocols for the customers on the BioXp hardware.

How did you get into that kind of work?
When I got out of college, I started working making microfiche printers and then progressed to Laser printers and then Inkjet printers – now I work on a DNA printer here at Codex DNA. I had been working in medical devices for 10 years, so Codex DNA is a perfect combination of my printing background and my biotech background.

What brought you to Codex DNA?
I first heard about Codex DNA from a colleague who told me that they were working on something ‘interesting’ that would revolutionize the laboratory process for research and development of DNA, and that they wanted me for the team! I couldn’t pass up on doing this, so I joined the team. The tools we make at Codex DNA are being used in laboratories all over the world to make such important breakthroughs such as the mRNA vaccines and new and amazing therapies that will change everyone’s lives. It’s a great feeling to be a part of such impactful projects.

What’s the company vibe?
Everyone in the company is very engaged and people go out of their way to help others from different departments to get things done; It certainly feels collaborative here. The other thing I feel every day is that the work we do is important. I’ve worked at a lot of jobs where the next new product would be useful for a year or so and then get replaced by some other consumer device or software feature – but here at Codex DNA I feel that the things we do matter and will change things in the world in important and meaningful ways.

How do you describe our technologies to non-scientists?
The way scientists use Codex DNA’s equipment is by automating the workflows they work on in the lab to be able to make breakthrough discoveries. We take all the drudgery out of doing the lab work involved, freeing them to be more creative as they work on their next research project and help them make their next discovery.

What one thing do you wish more people understood about DNA?
If I had to choose one thing it would be for people to understand the importance of how the work with DNA has evolved. We may not perceive how important this inflection point in history is because we’re living it. We have just started with the process of manipulating DNA and the capabilities here are advancing so fast that we are routinely doing things that would have been imposable just a short time ago.

What’s something fun about working at Codex DNA?
Providing snacks, coffee, and a nice place to work goes a long way toward making it fun to work here. We’ve also done scavenger hunts and white elephant gift exchanges. The People + Culture team do a great job making sure we’re engaged with the many activities they plan for the company.

What was the first thing you ever wanted to be when you grew up?
When I was younger, I worked hard to be able to buy my own computer. At the time, computers didn’t do anything, I mean they could barely play games. I always wanted to do something with computers and controlling things with computers.

How do you see synthetic biology changing the world?
I hope it changes the world for good things. My hope is that it’s perceived by people as being beneficial to society because it has so much potential to address the world’s most pressing healthcare challenges.

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