ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology


23, Nov 2023

Excellence award for thesis exploring synbio and international relations

Thom Dixon of the Macquarie University node has received a Staff Excellence Award for his higher degree research on synthetic biology.

Thom’s research focuses on the intersection of synthetic biology and international relations.
He has mapped advances arising from synthetic biology to understand if they makes great power conflict more likely.

‘It’s a multi-disciplinary project that combines theoretical contributions to international relations with scientific perspectives, commentary and reviews,’ explains Thom.

‘This thesis-by-publication investigates what bioinformation is, and how bioinformational is used in synthetic biology and international relations.’

The results of this research include seven publications, including two sole authored publications in the discipline of international relations (one in the number 1 ranked journal for the discipline in 2021), and five co-authored publications in scientific journals (lead author on all, two in Nature Communications).

By invitation, the findings of the project have been presented to the 2023 Global Forum on Engineering Biology 2.0, the 2022 Scientific and Technology Preparatory Meeting for the Biological Weapons Convention, the 2021 Biohacking Village at DEF CON, a 2021 Chatham House event and to the 2021 US-Australian Next Gen Leaders Initiative.

This research was the first to analyse cyberbiosecurity in the international relations discipline, and was the first to propose the concept of bioinformational engineering as a discrete concept that characterises contemporary synthetic biology research practices.