ESP Biography



ALIOTH DRINKWATER, MIT alum in bioengineering




Major: Biological Engineering

College/Employer: iGEM Foundation

Year of Graduation: 2011

Picture of Alioth Drinkwater

Brief Biographical Sketch:

My main interest is synthetic biology, but I'll happily discuss lots of other sub-topics of biology, or totally unrelated stuff like folk music, jewelry-making, mythology, linguistics...



Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)


Cross-Step Waltz in Splash 2014 (Nov. 22 - 23, 2014)
Think innovation in waltzing ended in the 1800s? Think again! Come learn the basics of cross-step waltzing, a dance form that might even be younger than you are! No experience or partner required, please wear shoes and clothing you can dance in!


Phonetics for Singers in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
Whether you sing in choir or take solo voice lessons, you've probably encountered the difficulty of learning to pronounce foreign languages well enough to sing them -- and the difficulty of getting the whole choir to sing the same sound -- and the difficulty of trying to spell things phonetically in English. In this class, we'll study how different sounds are produced in the mouth, and learn some of the International Phonetic Alphabet, which allows you to transcribe sounds unambiguously. We'll also learn some tricks you can use to teach other English speakers to pronounce tricky sounds, so you can help out your home choirs or your friends. Finally, we'll warm up and sing some examples -- from common languages like German to uncommon languages like Maori and Old Church Slavonic.


How the Genetic Code was Written and Deciphered in Spark! 2012 (Mar. 10, 2012)
That table of codon-to-amino-acid correspondences sits in the back of every biology textbook, taken for granted, but it actually has a fascinating story. We'll explore the biochemical and evolutionary reasons why the genetic code got to be the way it is, and the elegant set of experiments that deciphered it. (Teaser: did you ever wonder why, exactly, all four codons for proline are in the same "square" of the codon table?)


Modeling: Bio-Circuits, Electronic Circuits, and the Power of Analogy in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Modeling is the act of building understandable analogies that let us parse the real world. It is a crucial part of understanding and engineering complex systems. What can it teach us? Where can it lead us awry? In this class, you'll try your hand at a few basic methods of modeling biology, and learn about the relationships and analogies between different engineering fields.


Relaxation, Meditation, and Stress Reduction in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
This class will be supremely relaxing. We will cover a wide variety of techniques you can use to keep yourself on an even keel when it seems like school, life, your parents, and your own mind are all out to get you. - Meditation techniques - Guided relaxation / visualization - Everyday principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy DISCLAIMER: This class is not intended as medical advice.


Adventures in Synthetic Biology in Spark! 2010 (Mar. 13, 2010)
This course will take you from high school biology up to understanding a particular engineered system -- a bacterium that takes photographs. We’ll explore such mysteries as the bacterial two-component signaling system, the language of phosphorylation, and how to wire input A to output B. We’ll discuss the basic tenets of synthetic biology — what it'll take to make biology a Real Engineering Discipline, with libraries of standard parts and off-the-shelf-installable logic gates.


Unusual Cells in Spark! 2010 (Mar. 13, 2010)
In basic biology classes, you study what are essentially cartoon cells, with a nucleus and whatnot. But the world is full of many different types of cells with unusual adaptations to unusual circumstances. In this class we’ll cover: * what makes bacteria awesome in their own right, not just eukaryotes-without-a-nucleus * some of the unusual cell types found in the human body, such as the meter-long neuron that runs down your leg * what it takes to survive extremes of temperature, salinity, and pH


Unusual Cells in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
In basic biology classes, you study what are essentially cartoon cells, with a nucleus and whatnot. But the world is full of many different types of cells with unusual adaptations to unusual circumstances. In this class we'll cover: * what makes bacteria awesome in their own right, not just eukaryotes-without-a-nucleus * some of the unusual cell types found in the human body, such as the meter-long neuron that runs down your leg * what it takes to survive extremes of temperature, salinity, and pH


Bacterial Photography and Other Adventures in Synthetic Biology in Splash! 2009 (Nov. 21 - 22, 2009)
This course will take you from high school biology up to understanding a particular engineered bacterium that takes photographs. We'll explore such mysteries as the bacterial two-component signaling system, the language of phosphorylation, and how to wire input A to output B. We'll also discuss the basic tenets of synthetic biology -- how people are trying to make biology a Real Engineering Discipline, with libraries of standard parts and off-the-shelf-installable logic gates. You may also be interested in E2889: Methods of Biological Engineering (Or, How to Feel Almost God-Like).