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Contact Information

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Technical Instructor
Department of Biological Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Office: 617.324.1940 (Room 16-319)
Teaching Lab: 617.452.2886 (Room 13-3095)

astachow AT mit DOT edu

Background and Education

Prior to joining the teaching faculty here in Biological Engineering, I was myself educated at MIT for ten years (this is sometimes derisively referred to as being a "lifer"). I first acquired an S.B. in Chemical Engineering (2001), then a Ph.D. in Polymer Science and Engineering under the auspices of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (2007). My interest in the interface between biology and materials came about late in my undergraduate career, and I was fortunate to pursue this interest at the graduate level in Darrell Irvine's lab. In addition to a challenging and engaging research experience, graduate school offered me a chance to hone my teaching (assistant) chops, first in 3.012 (thermodynamics), then in 20.361 (biotechnology). I have a passion for the written word, whether reading literature, or enabling effective and elegant science communication. My greatest interest now is in fostering a science-literate citizenry by multiple tacks: at the college instructor level, this means developing the abilities of students to navigate a large body of information, to understand the logic of experimental design, and to communicate their findings to myriad audiences.

Core Teaching Values: Goals and Expectations

  • Transparency - I would like to convey to you why you are learning what you are learning at every stage, and also how you will be held accountable for this knowledge. In turn, I expect you to keep me abreast of any bugs or features of the course.
  • Responsibility - I hope to take the basics (keeping up with classwork, being considerate of your labmates) for granted. Rather, I aspire for us to engage in issues both intrinsic and seemingly peripheral to the course, such as the ethical implications of biotechnology.
  • Adaptability - No matter what your next career may be, adaptation to unexpected outcomes and the ability to redefine your strategy and goals will be vital. In my own case, flexibility and experimentation with pedagogical methods is a priority. Please do not hesitate to give me feedback.

Research Interests

1. Biomaterials - especially natural and synthetic polymers.
2. Immunology - particularly T cell motility and lymphoid chemokines.

Current Recommended Reads

Yes, it seems I only read for pleasure during vacations!

  • Winter 2008
  • Summer 2007
    • Popular science - Endless Forms Most Beautiful, by Sean Carroll
    • Fiction - Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson