CEO, Project Juno Technologies.

Hana is an Imperial College London and UCL Biochemical Engineering Graduate. She has been building synthetic biology ventures since 2016.

What does diversity mean to you?

Diversity, to me, means the inclusion and representation of people of all backgrounds and informed viewpoints. It also means ensuring that each of these groups of people are given the varying degrees of enablement that they require to be heard.

By people of all backgrounds, I mean people of all functional diversities, genders, ethnicity, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, immigration status and political affiliations. I also mean people of all economic backgrounds. I think one of the most important and least addressed diversity issues is the facilitation of the inclusion of people from economically disadvantaged background.

Why do you care about diversity?

I care about diversity because I have had first-hand experience of discrimination, both negative and undeservedly positive, that I believe can be diminished by making sure that people with authority are from more diverse backgrounds.

Furthermore, I believe that our world is changing at an unprecedented rate and that the very inequalities and systems of oppression, that have impacted my life, will become more pronounced and more deeply ingrained in our social fabric if we don’t ensure that the people shaping our future – the policy makers, entrepreneurs and thought leaders – aren’t from a diverse background.

My field, synthetic biology, holds the potential to both enable a more equitable world and to facilitate the creation of the most unequal society imaginable; having a diversity of people in control of this technology and its applications from the get-go is paramount to directing us towards a better future.

What inspired you to start your current journey?

My time at Imperial College London was incredibly formative and inspired my current journey of joining Entrepreneur First, a London based incubator funded by the likes of Reid Hoffman, and forming my very own synthetic biology startup. I discovered three things:

  1. Bloody hell, microbes are so cool! We consist of more microbial cells than human cells yet we barely know how they influence us! With what we know about parasitic species – like my favourite: the mind-controlling Toxoplasma gondii – we can only imagine the impact that our microbes are having on what we can digest, how we behave and even if we can have babies!
  2. Biology is a technology! Biology isn’t just about learning the names of different species and proteins, we can actually use DNA and microbial cells to create new medicines, foods and goods! It is a means of production that we can harness and scale to solve real world problems.
  3. I can shape my own path! But most importantly, I CAN. Running the Imperial branch of Student Hubs, a brilliant organisation facilitating social change, inspired me to think differently about my career. I think in terms of the problems that I want to spend my life solving, the most impactful route I can take and the most effective use of my finite time in bringing about the change I want to see.