March '23: not much, tbh
But it's about to get exciting
What did you get done this month, Sofia?
Avocado research: I’ve worked with UHPLC to detect metabolites in stressed and transformed avocado callus. The goal is to map out an unknown metabolic route to be able to produce an antimicrobial compound. Next stop is doing transformations with Agrobacterium :D
Writing: I finally published the edition of my collab with GRIDX (largest biotech company builder in LatAm). After a workshop on scientific writing, I also wrote a lil review on the biotech ecosystem in Mexico, considering funding, partnerships, and education.
Having fun (or what most people would see as fun, since I actually enjoy everything I do): I had a blast at SXSW! The talks on food and agriculture were interesting, and I got to meet very cool people in the space (including the CEO of Upside Foods, a plant scientist from Cambridge, and a VC in the cell ag space). I really enjoyed my talk and, as always, learned the most from my TKS friends :)
I also learned SQL, thermodynamics, watched many of Jennifer Brophy’s talks on plant genetic logic gates (for fun and for learning), and made a new friend who makes nice apps. The reason behind the “not much, tbh” title is that I wish I’d made progress on my cotton project and learned more about ML to design alternative proteins… silly how the things that I most wanted to do were just never really a priority.
Right now I’m in Washington DC for an EV meetup and will visit Boston/Cambridge from Sunday til Wednesday! —a sentence I never imagined myself writing in a newsletter. Thanks to everyone who, in one way or another, has supported me throughout my journey 🙏.
One of my friends who I met at SXSW distilled my last reflection into a question:
Today I think that the secret ingredient to staying productive and undistracted is to actually distract yourself intentionally.
It’s not the quantity of time that matters but the quality. Attention can multiply your time by a range of values between 0 and 1. If you don’t let your brain do stuff that is stimulating in different ways, it will find a way to be distracted in the moments when you actually wish to be focused, yielding only a fraction of the results you wanted or being your zero multiplier.
Next month I’ll be intentional about using Twitter and LinkedIn only after 8 am, completely avoiding them during focus hours, and using them < 20 min/day. The goal is to improve my attention rate per hour—a concept I’m still trying to figure out how to measure.
Sofia, what’s up with the lab-grown cotton project?
After times of uncertainty regarding my studies and place of residence, I can reassure that there’s no way I’m not f*cking doing this project (i.e. I’m back at it).
I have no doubt that whoever gets this tech right will have started the greatest agricultural revolution known to humankind yet. A way bigger deal than the green revolution with fertilizers, something even more disruptive than gene editing plants. The world needs a significant agricultureOS update and I’m here to help create that value.
So how do I go from A to B? My main and only blockers since I officially started experimenting with New Harvest’s grant are: 1) human capital for knowledge and guidance and 2) enough raw matter to shorten iteration cycles to <1 month.
For 1, I currently got support from some of the best researchers in plant bio at my university. Recently I’ve also met some of the smartest and most independent biotech students I know in Monterrey (mostly graduates) + plant biologists and enthusiasts from around the world. They bring the engineering, I bring the bio and the biz. Off to build a great team in the next two months.
For 2, I’m starting a new cotton culture in my university’s green house (far better weather than my hometown). This time I’m using certified seeds that won’t give trouble with plagues.
How am I doing any of this considering my other commitments? >=36 hours of focused work on this cell ag project per week, 30 hours of engineering education, <=10 hours of avocado research—in that order of priorities and considering that I also got time to eat, exercise, and sleep.
I know your interest in this project hasn’t died at all either so I will keep you updated on this specific project through this medium. If you want to help this group of unapologetic, smart and ambitious people build a 10x better agricultural system, my only ask is for introductions to plant biologists. Of any kind.
Time to build. I’ll see you in 30 days.