Meeting Biology's "Sputnik Moment"

Author: Natalie Kuldell


Biology is becoming a defining technology of the modern era: the bioeconomy is expected to contribute nearly 1.1 million jobs to the United States by 2030. Preparing the skilled workforce that our nation will need to fill these jobs requires a fundamental shift in how the field of biology is viewed. Biology is not merely a collection of facts to be memorized in school. Rather, it is a dynamic economic sector that provides opportunities for Americans of all skillsets, and that can generate creatively engineered solutions to persistent global challenges.

The Biden-Harris Administration can position the United States as a world leader in the emerging bioeconomy by funding modernized biology education, establishing world-class entrepreneurial hubs for biotechnology in non-traditional regions of the country, and supporting equitable access to industry-recognized certificates and work-based training. Through this comprehensive Built with Biology Plan, the federal government can prepare and invite more Americans into skilled jobs that support the bioeconomy. The social imperative for investing in the bioeconomy is at least as great as the economic one. We will build a better future for all Americans—including people of color, people with disabilities, and people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds—only by harnessing regional talent and growing robust bioeconomies in all 50 states.

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About the Author

Dr. Natalie Kuldell leads BioBuilder, a nonprofit organization that inspires the next generation of innovators with synthetic biology curriculum, giving students a leg-up and a way in to the bioeconomy. A BioBuilder textbook was published by O’Reilly Media. In 2017, BioBuilder opened a community lab in LabCentral, an entrepreneurial hub in Cambridge, MA.

Dr. Kuldell studied Chemistry as an undergraduate at Cornell, completed her doctoral and post-doctoral work at Harvard Medical School, and taught at Wellesley College before joining the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT in 2003. She is the 2020 recipient of the Million Women Mentors STEM Trailblazer Award.