Heading into Steve’s university laboratory for the first time, I anxiously waited to begin observing the lab members’ work with computational protein structure prediction and design. This lab was one of the first spaces for such work in the US. Gaining legitimacy and recognition after the rise of genomics, protein computation aims to model protein structure and its interactions with other proteins, enzymes, and surroundings. This has become crucial for biological, biochemical, and even medical research. Needless to say, I was excited to see leaders in the field hard at work, but then was shocked to walk into a plain, tan-colored office area with four separate desks, everything completely quiet.
Because of their collaborative work with other research projects, I had expected to see a more vibrant and dynamic lab space. Sadly, my excitement and energy slowly dissolved away into boredom watching four students type code into their computers. As I observed lab members code and model proteins, I wanted to understand how so much excitement and a strong collaborative environment with outside sciences could come from such mundane computer work. (read more...)