On January 24, thought leaders from across the scientific community met to discuss the challenges and opportunities within the bioeconomy. The one-day symposium, Closing the Knowledge Gaps, was hosted by the Bioeconomy Information Sharing and Analysis Center (BIO-ISAC). Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is the first national laboratory to be a member of the newly formed BIO-ISAC.
Karen Taylor, group leader for the Cyber Risk Reduction group at PNNL, was an invited speaker at the event. She spoke during a panel, titled Bioeconomy Workforce Demands, with Chris Bolzan, executive director of Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute.
“As the world has become increasingly interconnected and automated, this has posed new challenges to understanding the new threat landscape for everything from critical infrastructure to personal information,” said Taylor. “Before we can tackle these challenges, we first need to identify, train, and recruit interdisciplinary scientists and engineers.”
Since 2019, Taylor has been working with research scientists and security professionals to understand and communicate the need for academia to offer interdisciplinary technical programs. Her future efforts include partnering with industry, government agencies, and academic institutions to develop new curricula, build workforce development and training opportunities into new research programs, and continue providing a platform like hackathons to identify promising students.
“We want biology students to be interested in taking classes in cybersecurity,” said Taylor. “Most students don’t realize they have more than one direction with their studies, which is why one day we hope to see undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the cybersecurity for biotech space.”
In September, emphasizing the importance of this sector, the White House issued an Executive Order on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy. In this order, bioeconomy is described as the economic activity derived from biotechnology and biomanufacturing, which includes products, services, and processes derived from biological resources such as plants and microorganisms.
BIO-ISAC is an international organization that addresses threats to the bioeconomy and supports collaboration among stakeholders to facilitate a robust and secure industry. BIO-ISAC, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, hosted the one-day event in January 2023.