“…we will read messages from DNA and combine them with messages from rocks.” – B McFarland (2016) in A World From Dust
We quantify most of the 20-odd biogenic elements in biosystems (e.g., cells, lakes) to gain a systems-level perspective of biology at the lowest level of organization (elemental data are indeed compositional). Such information is necessary to utilize our detailed (though modular) understanding of elements at lower levels of biological organization to make predictions about higher order biology. We call the study of biology from this elemental (as opposed to organismal) perspective, atom-first biology. Atom-first biology can be used to explore any biological phenomenon and has no taxonomic or disciplinary boundaries. Mentees are encouraged to develop their own dimensions of inquiry.