is an assistant professor of
chemical and biological engineering,
and mechanical engineering
at Northwestern University.
His research seeks general theories of life,
in which the details of carbon-based organisms would represent a special case.
As we have yet to invent a time machine or the means of interstellar travel,
Sam and his students design, build and breed robotic lifeforms
to catch a glimpse of life as it may have arisen here on Earth
or as it might exist elsewhere in the universe.
Most recently, this led to the discovery of
a previously unknown (kinematic) form of biological reproduction.
Sam received his PhD in computer science and the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award from the University of Vermont in 2020. He conducted postdoctoral research in the biology department at Tufts University and Harvard University. An AI2050 Fellow and Cozzarelli Prize recipient, his creation of the world's first computer-designed organisms (the "xenobots"; together with his three co-authors) has enjoyed widespread media attention, added a new word to the dictionary, and was displayed as an exhibit at the Design Museum in London.