Our employee profile series is still going strong! Let’s chat with Tyson Shepherd, Senior Scientist in Microbial Applications Development. The Illinois native earned his BS in physics and mathematics at Illinois State University, his MS in physics at Georgia Tech, and his PhD in biochemistry at the University of Iowa.
What’s your role at Inscripta?
As a scientist in Applications Development in Inscripta, I get to act as a “first customer” to the technology that Inscripta is developing. It gives me the opportunity to develop novel applications and to prove out how our technology works for new academic and industry applications.
What’s something you’d want scientists to know about the Onyx™ platform?
Our technology allows us to do both genome-wide and protein-specific engineering for any gene in E. coli or yeast. It’s a little like site-directed mutagenesis, but at the genome scale with a plexity of hundreds to thousands of trackable edits in a pool.
What brought you to Inscripta?
I came from a background of structural and synthetic biology. The opportunity that synthetic biology will allow in the future can only be achieved if we have the capacity for new tools that make it more generally available. When I saw Inscripta’s work in democratizing genome editing technology, it really spoke to me. This is the type of company and the type of tool that we need to achieve a revolutionary impact in fields from green tech to pharmaceutical development.
How did you get into the genome editing field?
I had played around with CRISPR in previous projects, but I was often limited in my capacity for its utility. It wasn’t until reading about the Onyx technology that I really saw a path to do trackable edits at scale.
If you could use genome engineering to address any challenge, what would you choose?
There are so many fascinating opportunities on the horizon, but one that sits in the back of my mind regularly is the ability to have a substantial and lasting impact on pharmaceutical development by engineering microbes. This would enable the rapid generation of new medicines and biologics to address antimicrobial resistance, emerging novel diseases, and correct for genetic disorders.
What’s the best career advice you have to share?
The number one piece of career advice is to do something that wakes you up and excites you each day. That’s a pretty good compass to follow.
What did you do as a kid that you wish you could do more as an adult?
I enjoyed riding a bike as a kid. It would be fun to still have that enjoyment!
What’s your favorite vacation?
I lived in Europe for a while and really enjoyed touring around to lots of different cities and countries.