Emma J. Chory, a post-doctoral fellow in the Sculpting Evolution laboratory of MIT, was recently awarded the 2022 SLAS Innovation Award for her presentation on “Phage and Robotics-Assisted Directed Evolution” at the SLAS 2022 International Conference and Exhibition. The Innovation Award is one of six given out each year by The Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievements in the field of laboratory automation and screening.
Chory’s presentation explained how the development of their two-part system enabled the autonomous evolution of biomolecules within high-throughput by expanding the repertoire of liquid-handling systems, and then demonstrated how applying these systems to biomolecular engineering questions and use cases could accelerate development and discovery within the bio-evolutionary space.
With her co-authors Erika DeBenedictis, Dana Gretton, Brian Wang, Stefan Golas, and Kevin Esvelt, Chory was able to enhance her platform to a phage-and-robotics assisted near-continuous (PRANCE) system to stimulate naturally occurring environmental changes and perturbations to samples within the laboratory.
For Chory, the award is a recognition of the beneficial potential that automation holds for laboratories and scientific research. “I’m completely blown away by the reception to our work, the response from the SLAS community, and so grateful for all the scientists and engineers who have engaged with this project (especially my co-authors). Over the years SLAS has defined what it means to create next-generation science, so to be deemed “innovative” in that context holds a particularly high honor. Sometimes as an academic, automation can feel like a luxury reserved for streamlining processes rather than answering questions, so I hope this award inspires other basic scientists to tackle new (and old) questions from entirely different angles”.
The SLAS Innovation Award $10,000 cash prize is sponsored by HighRes Biosolutions, a leading global laboratory automation company. HighRes Biosolution creates tools and platforms that enable scientists to develop data factories connecting their instrumentation with informatics for unprecedented levels of productivity, (re)adapting to changes in science, technology, and organizational structure – wherever in the world they may be.