The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the UK (EPSRC), through the IDEAS Factory Program, and the National Science Foundation in the US (NSF) invite expressions of interest to participate in an interactive workshop (Sandpit) to be held at Airlie Conference Center in Warrenton, VA (USA) from March 30 to April 3 2009. The aim of the sandpit is to stimulate thinking in promising new, or currently underdeveloped, areas of synthetic biology.
The sandpit is an intensive, interactive and free-thinking environment, where a diverse group of participants from a range of disciplines and backgrounds gets together for five days – away from their everyday worlds – to immerse themselves in collaborative thinking processes in order to construct innovative approaches.
The process can be broken down into several stages:
- Defining the scope of the challenges
- Evolving common languages and terminologies amongst people from a diverse range of backgrounds and disciplines
- Sharing understandings of the challenges, and the expertise brought by the participants to the sandpit
- Taking part in break-out sessions focused on the challenges, using creative thinking techniques
- Capturing the outputs in the form of highly innovative research projects
- Using “real-time” peer review on those projects at the sandpit to determine their eligibility for funding
The sandpit will be an intensive event. For the well-being of participants, the venue offers opportunities for relaxation, and the timetable will include networking and other activities as a break from the detailed technical discussions.