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Harrison Steel Associate Professor of Engineering Science

Associate Professor

Harrison Steel BEng BSc DPhil

Associate Professor of Engineering Science

Tutorial Fellow at Harris Manchester College

COLLEGE: Harris Manchester


Harrison Steel completed a BEng in Mechanical Engineering and a BSc in Physics and Mathematics at the University of Sydney. He then came to Oxford as a Monash Scholar and completed his DPhil at the University of Oxford as a Monash Scholar. Following his studies he was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department's Control Group, before joining as an Associate Professor in 2020.

Research Interests

Harrison Steel's research group works on interdisciplinary challenges at the intersection of Synthetic Biology, Robotics, and Control Engineering.

Synthetic Biology and Feedback Control

Engineered biological systems are often fragile and highly sensitive to changes in their environment. We are building synthetic biological feedback systems to enable robust, safe biotechnologies with applications in fields from agriculture to medicine.

Experimental Robotic Platforms

Cutting-edge experimental tools and methods are integral to enabling research, scale-up and application of engineered biological systems. We develop robotic platforms - some of which are currently used by dozens of academic and industry labs worldwide - to help answer scientific questions and create new biotechnologies.

Theory for Control/Biology

In parallel with experimental work, we frequently work on theoretical questions in control and biology - using mathematics to investigate or simulate systems that would be challenging to analyze in the lab.

Current Projects

  • Synthetic Biological Controllers: Modelling and implementing novel feedback control in bacteria.
  • Feedback for Experimental Evolution: Building control loops into experimental evolution to steer and accelerate the process.
  • Measurement and Control of Microbial Communities: Application focused engineering of methods for real-time monitoring and control of interactions in communities of co-living microbes.
  • Bioreactor Development: Building upon the Chi.Bio bioreactor system to develop new capabilities in partnership with industry. Also developing bioreactors that integrate acoustic (ultrasonic) actuation/manipulation of liquids.

Research Groups