Applicants, SPA

  • Ha Eun Lim

    I’m a first year PhD student in Rice University co-advised by Dr. James Chappell and Dr. Laura Segatori. I am working on a project installing RNA sensors in mammalian cells in order to sense inflammation signals and respond with proteins of interest. I graduated from Cornell University with honors in Biomedical Engineering and minor in Computer science in May 2022.

  • Dalton George

    My background is in the field of science, technology, and society studies, with a specific focus on the social and ethical dimensions of emerging biotechnologies. I did my PhD at North Carolina State University, where I focused on responsible research and innovation related to environmental and agricultural biotechnologies. My work as a post-doc at Arizona State focuses on the social, ethical, and political dimensions of synthetic biology, with a focus on issues related to biocontainment.

  • Yangruirui Zhou

    Yangruirui Zhou is a third-year Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) student in Computer Engineering Department, Boston University (BU). In Boston University, he is working with Professor Douglas Densmore. Yangruirui got his Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) in software engineering (Elite Program) from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC)” in 2020. And he was honored with the “Most Outstanding students of UESTC 2019 (成电杰出学生)”, which is the highest honor for undergraduate student in UESTC.

  • Maram Naji

    I am a chemical and biological engineering PhD student in the Lucks Lab at Northwestern’s Center for Synthetic Biology. My research centers on targeting riboswitches with antibiotics. I began working toward new infectious disease treatments as an undergraduate researcher in the Nuermberger Lab at the Johns Hopkins Center for Tuberculosis Research. I have also held internships in drug discovery, high throughput biology, and biomarker development at pharmaceutical companies and aim to use synthetic biology to expedite drug discovery and development in my career.

  • Maram Naji

    I am a chemical and biological engineering PhD student in the Lucks Lab at Northwestern’s Center for Synthetic Biology. My research centers on targeting riboswitches with antibiotics. I began working toward new infectious disease treatments as an undergraduate researcher in the Nuermberger Lab at the Johns Hopkins Center for Tuberculosis Research. I have also held internships in drug discovery, high throughput biology, and biomarker development at pharmaceutical companies and aim to use synthetic biology to expedite drug discovery and development in my career.

  • Sean Carr

  • Efrain Rodriguez-Ocasio

    PhD Candidate in Chemical Engineering, working on the development of engineered microorganisms for industrial applications. My current project focuses on microbial upcycling of plastic wastes using the biorefinery concept as a model. Having a bachelor’s in biotechnology and training in the engineering biology field, I am working towards a career at the nexus of science and engineering to better understand biological systems and how they can be leveraged to our advantage.

  • Andrea Poole

    I worked in synthetic biology for 4 years during my undergrad at Wright State University. During this time, I was part of multiple iGEM teams as a member and advisor. Now in graduate school, I joined a protein NMR lab where I look at how mutations in cancer change protein structure and ligand binding. In the future I want to have an industry job in synthetic biology.

  • Asfar Lathif Salaudeen

    I am a third-year Ph.D. student at UBC. I did my undergraduate in biotechnology in India and moved to Vancouver for graduate school. My research interests include synthetic biology, gene regulation and data science.

  • Eva Ottum

  • Franco Tavella

    I’m currently a graduate student in Biophysics at the University of Michigan. Originally, I’m from Argentina where I studied Physics and engaged in several research opportunities in synthetic biology. I’m passionate about working towards a more sustainable future by partnering with Biology.

  • Esther Jimenez

    I am a first-generation college graduate, now pursuing a Ph.D. at Rice University, from a Hispanic heritage that was born and raised in Houston, Texas. I entered Rice University as part of the Biochemistry and Cell Biology program and now have the privilege of being a part of the Ajo-Franklin, primarily focusing on furthering the field of Engineered Living Materials. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, caring for my corgi Mocha, and trying the wide diversity of food Houston offers.

  • Natalia Crystal Ubilla-Rodriguez

    Natalia is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. As an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz, she was an NIH IMSD fellow (Initiative for Maximizing Student Development) and recipient of many awards including the UCSC Tony Fink Memorial Student Award and Koret Undergraduate Research Scholarship. Natalia is also a 2019 NIH Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) and a 2020 Rackham Merit Fellow. Natalia is passionate about DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) efforts and her research interest broadly includes the functionality between cargo and bacterial nano compartments and their applications in synthetic biology and food systems.

  • Tyler Lucci

    I am a class of 2026 PhD student in the chemical engineering department at Northwestern University. My research primarily focuses on cell-free synthetic biology with applications in biosensing. Prior to joining Northwestern University, I worked for three years as a chemical process engineer.

  • Yuzhong Liu

    I grew up in Hangzhou, China and went on to pursue my B.Sc. degree in Chemistry at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where I developed chemical tools for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease under the guidance of Professor Mi Hee Lim. In 2013, I started graduate school at UC Berkeley and joined Professor Omar Yaghi’s group where my research interest focused on the design and synthesis of crystalline woven covalent organic frameworks with exceptional mechanical properties. Since 2018, I have been a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Jay Keasling’s lab working on biosynthesis of terpene-derived molecules in yeast.

  • Victoria Yell

    I am in my fifth year of PhD research under the advisory of Dr. Sirius Li at North Carolina State University in the Department of Plant Biology. The focus of my research is understanding the genetic mechanisms that lead to detrimental growth effects in lignin bioengineered plants. While my main project is largely focused on basic science, I am very interested in the industrial applications, regulation, and deployment of bioengineered energy and bioproduct producing crops.

  • Christien Dykstra

    Ph.D. candidate working on receptor design for metabolic engineering. Instructor at the Canadian Synthetic Biology Education and Research Group (CSBERG) where we teach engineering biology principles to highschoolers and undergraduate students. My project focuses on opioid production and detection in yeast.

  • Vivian Hu

    I am a third year BME PhD candidate at Northwestern University at Neha Kamat’s Lab.

  • Taylor Gunnels

    I am a fourth year Ph.D. student interested in making smarter medicines. My passion for research began as an undergraduate at Boston University in Dr. Xue Han’s neuroengineering lab, and shortly thereafter I learned my affinity for translational spaces while I worked in industry supporting preclinical pharmaceutic science research. After spending several years as a leader and officer in the United States Air Force, it has been my privilege to return to the lab as a graduate student working under my advisors, Dr. Josh Leonard and Dr. Neha Kamat. I’m currently passionate about therapeutic applications of mammalian synthetic biology and extracellular vesicles.

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