Blast From the Past: Nexus Biosystems

“A Home for Chemical Compounds”

Sorry it’s been such a long time since my last entry. I’ve been busy with college applications. And as I’ve been writing these college essays, I remember all these really cool experiences I had in these last few years–experiences which I would have blogged about, had I created this blog back then.

So I apologize for being so far behind, but I feel these experiences really deserve to be brought back from the past!

Nexus Biosystems, Poway, CA       July 2009

Imagine you are a researcher. You have thousands of chemical compounds, molecules, or scientific samples. And you’re trying to research and test these samples. But you can’t just keep chemical compounds lying around. You need a secure, safe way to store them. That’s the type of project Nexus Biosystems works on–storage for chemical samples.

The storage units are large and rectangular, rather like gigantic refrigerators, except for they can keep the samples inside at a cool -80 degrees Celsius. (A refrigerator can only go as low as 1.7 degrees.) The unit also has a computer and robotic mechanisms inside.

Here’s how it works: a scientist feeds a sample into the storage unit, and the robotic mechanism carries the sample to an empty cell for safekeeping. The sample is stored at the correct temperature, without contamination from other samples. Afterwards, the computer remembers where the sample is kept, so that when the scientist needs to retrieve the sample, the robot knows how to bring it back. Instant science!

My dad, who does contracted work for Nexus, helps to program the computers inside these storage containers. Engineers design and build the machinery itself. Then, programmers and engineers together have to test the storage units to make sure it is working properly.

Who uses the storage units? Biochemical companies, researchers universities, and pharmaceutical companies are just a few examples where a chemical storage unit may be needed. The efficiency of storing and retrieving the compounds can help further research in biotechnology, medicine, agriculture, and more.