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The Innovators: Dr. Chris Snow


When you work on a puzzle, you put hundreds or thousands of pieces together, right?

Those pieces by themselves don’t necessarily do much. But, when the puzzle is completed, the pieces function together as a big, pretty picture.

And there’s a parallel to this found in nature: proteins.

Proteins are responsible for an incredible amount of stuff in our world. A decent percentage of our bodies is protein from our cell membranes to our hair and nails, signaling proteins help our cells to talk to each other, protein is a huge component in our diets, and proteins can even provide a way for us to study their molecular structures.

…That last one is less relatable, isn’t it?

Well, essentially, scientists have to be able to know what proteins are made up of, what they are. Because if we know what they’re made of, we can know what they are capable of doing. For all the reasons listed above, that would be a pretty nifty thing to know, wouldn’t it?

(In fact, this is what the field of proteomics is dedicated to).

Dr. Chris Snow of the Chemical and Biological Department at CSU.
Dr. Chris Snow of the Chemical and Biological Department at CSU.

So chemical engineers look at proteins and say, “Can I model that? Can I design that? Can I predict what protein I want to grow in order to select for a function? And can I grow it and check that my model works?”

And this is exactly what Dr. Chris Snow studies.

Dr. Snow, my guest for the interview below, is an Assistant Professor with the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department. And he studies the behavior of proteins. He has an impressive background and body of work, having earned degrees at MIT and Stanford.

Something I am discovering in a few of my talks with researching professors on “The Innovators” is the role creativity has played (or continues to play) in their lives. So this interview with Dr. Snow delightfully brings up his past hobbies of swing dancing and cello performance.

The interview also includes Dr. Snow discussing what challenges protein engineering can present. But, you will also hear about Chris’s life, the hectic work Assistant Professors are responsible for, and how he balances his demanding job with being a father of a five year old.

If you would like to know more about the work that Dr. Snow and his group do at Colorado State University, you can visit their website here.

The background music heard in this podcast comes from:

Ghostwriter, RJD2