It was a big lesson for me that, the world's a big place and, to find your uniqueness, you gotta to explore different things."

Julius Lucks is a synthetic biologist at Northwestern University investigating genetic circuits in microbes — in particular how they are used to sense and respond to the environment

In our conversation of November 2nd, 2021, we talked with Prof. Julius Lucks from Northwestern University.

He described a number of career pivots, starting early with his change in focus from math to chemistry when he attended the North Carolina School for Science and Mathematics. His college career included a significant amount of research in organic and theoretical chemistry at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, but he took another direction in grad school at Harvard, deciding to study the biophysics of how molecules fold.

Julius then spent some time at a computer programming job with a preprint server, and  in post-doctoral studies with Adam Arkin at UC Berkeley. These experiences all pointed him towards the programming of cells with RNA.

Julius started his own lab to pursue one of the big questions in synthetic biology, namely: can we learn from nature in order to better live with nature? His research group now works on fundamental questions like what are the molecular mechanisms that microbes to make decisions? His research group at Northwestern University applies these fundamentals to address water quality issues.