Dr. Natalie Kuldell

Dr. Natalie Kuldell

BioBuilder: The science and engineering of tomorrow in the classrooms of today

BioBuilder is the first formal curriculum for high school in the field of synthetic biology, changing the way we teach science to emphasize what is possible rather than what is already known. By fusing the tools of molecular biology with the approaches of electrical engineers, students can change the way cells smell, look, and detect their environment, recoding the cells using DNA programs they write themselves. The BioBuilder curriculum is modular, malleable, and openly accessible, so teachers can implement the content as they see fit in their classrooms, labs, and after-school clubs. BioBuilder works with students and teachers throughout the country, getting more of today’s kids building and designing the world of tomorrow.

DR. NATALIE KULDELL is president of the BioBuilder Educational Foundation and an instructor in the Department of Biological Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

She earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Cornell University and completed her doctoral and postdoctoral work at Harvard Medical School. She taught at Wellesley College before joining the faculty at MIT. At MIT, she develops discovery-based curricula drawn from the current literature to engage undergraduate students in structured, reasonably authentic laboratory and project-based experiences.

She is director of the web-based resource BioBuilder, which teaches synthetic biology, as well as the president of the BioBuilder Educational Foundation, an educational nonprofit organization that converts current research into teachable form. She runs BioBuilder summer workshops to train teachers in the engineering of biology and ways to teach it.

Outside of her BioBuider work, she is a scientific adviser for Understanding Science and VisionLearning, two web-based projects that teach the nature and process of science. She is a regional hub coordinator and core member of COPUS, a grassroots organization to promote the public understanding of science. Her research examines gene expression in eukaryotic cells, focusing most recently on synthetic biology and redesign of yeast mitochondria.