The problem with a lot of research, Sam Rodriques says, is that it’s decontextualized. Cells are removed from their natural setting to be studied, and with that, information is limited.
“You lose knowledge about the organization of the tissue and how that cell interacts with other cells, and which biological events might be influencing the process you’re studying,” he said.
If you’re studying what happens to gene expression in a cell after a traumatic brain injury, for example, you will definitely see changes. But you’re not going to be able to get a broader sense of how and how much expression changes without understanding the spatial relationship between cells and the site of the injury.
Rodriques’ research, then, focuses on putting the context back into scientific inquiry, particularly in neuroscience. A postdoctoral researcher in Ed Boyden’s MIT lab, he has worked on such projects as finding ways to reincorporate spatial and temporal information back to RNA sequencing. He also helped develop “implosion fabrication,” a way to shrink objects to the nanoscale.
Rodriques said he tries to find a sense of beauty through science and is broadly interested in creativity and inspiration — features he also seeks out through the performing arts.
When cells are removed from their natural setting, “you lose knowledge about the organization of the tissue and how that cell interacts with other cells.”
As Rodriques has continued to develop a series of new technologies in academia, he’s looking to the next step. A budding entrepreneur, he wants the tools he makes to be able to get out in the world and have a maximum impact.
— Andrew Joseph