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Emily Leproust

For synthesizing DNA faster than ever.

Emily Leproust
[Photo: Tim Flach, Getty Images]

Researchers in agriculture, biotech, and other fields are hungry for synthetic DNA, which is used to engineer new kinds of materials, crops, and medicines. But limitations in current manufacturing technology mean there just isn’t enough to go around. Emily Leproust, a biochemist who cofounded Twist Bioscience in 2013 with Bill Peck and Bill Banyai, is developing a new DNA–creating device that works 100 times more efficiently than current methods. In 2014, Twist pulled in more than $45 million from investors, and it plans to launch its commercial service later this year. “I am not interested in how everybody else is doing a particular thing,” says Leproust. “I am interested in improving the process and the outcome.”

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Bonus Round

Where or how do you seek out creative inspiration?

Innovation is a state of mind that needs practice. Everything I encounter, I ask myself, ‘How I can do this better?’ It is automatic. I am not interested by how everybody else is doing a particular thing, I am interested in improving the process and improving the outcome.

What’s your favorite Twitter or social account and why?

Lady Exec Hair. Female executives are still too rare. We need more visibility of the successes in order to inspire other female executives to step up and lead.

What are some things you do to refresh your mind when you’re in a rut?

My Saturday morning walks on the beach often offer solutions that evaded me during the week.

Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why?

My mom and dad built and ran their own small business. They had a common-sense philosophy to always do the right thing for the customers, and they often discussed business during meals. As with any business, they had new challenges coming up all the time, but it inspired the entrepreneurial spirit in me and a feeling of responsibility for creating company value.