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In our DNA: Sydney Kerr, Senior Research Associate

June 22, 2022  |  Codex DNA

We’re continuing our blog series, looking at the DNA of Codex DNA — our incredible employees and their stories.

Team member: Sydney Kerr, Senior Research Associate
Came aboard: January 2021

What do you do at Codex DNA?
I work on the SOLA (enzymatic DNA synthesis) project under Senior Director of Research and Development John Gill, enzymatically synthesizing DNA. My role in the project is to work on increasing throughput. We started working on a small number of samples doing a deep dive into individual sequences we were trying to build. Once we accomplished a robust build with the small sample sizes, we scaled it to a larger set of samples and genes.

How did you get into that kind of work?
I had always been interested in science. At first, I was interested in the material science trajectory of my career. When I was 19, I was diagnosed with Hodgins Lymphoma and battled out cancer throughout the end of my teen years. With that, I gained a newfound passion for life, health, and medicine. I wanted to put that personal journey to use to improve health and medicine for other people. I then studied nanoengineering with a focus in bioengineering at UCSD for my bachelor’s. I continued to pursue my master’s in nanoengineering with an emphasis in biomedical nanotechnology. After working for a small company called Cytologistics and Advanced Targeting Systems, I joined Codex DNA, and it has been a great experience since.

How would you describe the company culture?
It’s supportive and collaborative. When I think of the company culture, I think of my supervisor John Gill. John has fostered a nurturing culture in his team, and it feels great to know that anytime we face a hurdle, we are encouraged to take a walk and take care of ourselves first. The people I see daily create a great culture, and it’s the best.

How would you describe synthetic biology to non-scientists?
I would describe it as making biology in a lab rather than in nature. We can make new or better biological systems, devices, and medicines that address problems we see in healthcare.

What’s something fun about working at Codex DNA?
The people. The science is so amazing, but I love coming to work every day with people who I think are superheroes and have also become some of my best friends.

What was the first thing you ever wanted to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a supercross rider when I was four. I also wanted to be a ballerina.

How do you see synthetic biology changing the world?
I think this synthetic biology revolution will increase access to the quality of medicine. I also think synthetic biology has a very graceful way of aiding human healing. Over time, we will see a big shift in health and wellness based on this synthetic biology we’re continuing to focus on.

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