Natalie Kuldell spent 12 years as an Instructor in the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT and the last handful of years as Founder and President of the BioBuilder Educational Foundation as well. She is an invited speaker at meetings all over the country, ranging from the TEDxBermuda conference in 2013 to national meetings for educators such as NSTA and scientists such as AAAS. Her expertise in synthetic biology and education as well as her scientific background have led to the publication of numerous articles and books. Recent articles include ones that focus on curricular content in synthetic biology, the evaluation of student design competitions, and the public’s engagement with biological engineering. Her books include “Genome Refactoring” which she co-authored with Neal Lerner, and a compendium called, “Zinc Finger Proteins: From Atomic Contact to Cellular Function” that she co-edited with Shiro Iuchi.
She graduated in 1987 Magna Cum Laude from Cornell University with a BA in Chemistry and received her PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology from Harvard University in 1994. After a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School, she joined the faculty at Wellesley College where she taught and developed curriculum in the Department of Biological Sciences. In 2003 she was recruited to MIT as they were launching a new major (Course 20) and new department in Biological Engineering. Her leadership in curriculum development and undergraduate education helped position MIT’s program as a prime example of interdisciplinary engineering education, particularly in the area of synthetic biology.
Serving as associate director of education for an NSF Engineering Research Center grant, Dr. Kuldell collaborated with award winning high school teachers to collect her MIT synthetic biology teaching materials into modular curricular units appropriate for high school and early college settings. The resulting curriculum, and the non-profit organization that sustains it, is housed at BioBuilder.org. Dr. Kuldell spent her sabbatical year (2013-2014) as a visiting scholar with the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement, applying the SENCER model for teaching and learning to engineering education in high school and college settings.