Mukund Thattai obtained a B.A. in Physics from Cornell University in 1999, and a Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2004. Mukund’s interests straddle many disciplines. As an undergraduate, his research leads to publications about chaotic pendulums and gravitational wave detectors. He began his graduate studies at MIT intending to work on condensed-matter theory, but his attention quickly turned to biological problems, particularly the study of stochastic processes in living cells. Immediately following his Ph.D., Mukund took up an independent position as a Young Investigator at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India; in 2007 he joined the NCBS faculty. Mukund’s laboratory at NCBS uses both experimental and computational techniques to study how cells work. He has made key contributions in the area of synthetic biology, a field which attempts to combine genes into biological circuits. His most recent work deals with the billion-year-old evolutionary origins of complex compartmentalized cells. Mukund is deeply involved in public engagement efforts and art/science collaborations, working with conceptual artists and theatre practitioners to explore the practice of biology and its impact on society.