Over the past fifteen years, the field of synthetic biology has emerged with a focus on reprogramming gene networks and cellular signaling. Simultaneously, exciting technologies have been developed that allow the precise engineering of materials and devices that mimic the cell’s native environment. Dr. Ruder's research team is developing new approaches in synthetic biology and linking these technologies with engineered systems that mimic cell, tissue, and organism physiology. Their efforts include the development of: (1) a living, bacterial microbiome for a biomimetic, robotic host, (2) artificial and engineered living microbiome constituents that deliver nutrients within organ-on-a-chip systems, (3) synthetically engineered cells that control material assembly, and (4) a biomimetic biofilm that combines microfluidics with synthetic biology to enable the discovery and monitoring of spatially segregated phenotypes within cell populations. These systems hold significant promise for both elucidating fundamental principles of physiology while also serving as new technologies for biotechnology and medicine.