Council

  • David Shepherd

    David Shepherd is a Program Manager for the Department of Homeland Security, in its Science and Technology Directorate. He manages projects that help DHS and the interagency understand threats and risks stemming from biological agents and related advances. His projects range from in-depth studies of threats to creating measures to mitigate those risks and threats, with emphasis on efforts to build intergovernmental awareness and understanding. Recently Mr. Shepherd has started projects to bring the government community and the commercial community closer together to build the collaborative means to address 21st century threats, including risks to the bioeconomy. He also manages the Hazard Knowledge Center within DHS S&T’s Probablistic Awareness of National Threats, Hazards and Risks (PANTHR) program, and is S&T’s liaison to the DOD’s Combatting Terrorism Technical Support Office. Mr. Shepherd has been a federal program manager working in threat and risk awareness and reduction for over two decades. He has degrees in electrical engineering, history, and telecommunications.

  • Lauren Junker

    Dr. Lauren Junker is an innovation scout for Industrial Biotechnology Research at BASF. She has been a leader in the Industrial Biotechnology research group at BASF for the past 7 years where her teams research focused on microbiome research for personal care, microbial control solutions for personal care and animal nutrition and fermentation process optimization.
    Interested in technologies and partners to accelerate Bioscience research at BASF in the areas of industrial biotechnology including industrial enzyme and biocatalyst engineering, strain engineering for bio-based chemical production, fermentation process optimization and microbiome research.

    Previous roles include serving as a microbiologist and clinical research scientist within Johnson & Johnson’s Consumer Products Division. She earned her Ph.D. in Microbiology from Cornell University and did a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Harvard Medical School where she conducted research on microbial biofilms. At BASF, Dr. Junker and her team of biotechnologists work together with BASF’s Beauty Care Solutions, Care Chemicals to provide efficacious solutions for skin health, focusing on microbiome benefits.

  • Michael Koepke

    Michael is a pioneer in genetic engineering and strain development of gas fermenting organisms to convert carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide to useful products. His research on Clostridium ljungdahlii demonstrated for the first time that gas fermenting acetogens can be genetically modified and provided a first genome and genetic blueprint of such an organism.

    Since 2009, Michael is Director of Synthetic Biology at LanzaTech, a company that has developed a proprietary gas fermentation process that is revolutionizing the way the world thinks about waste carbon by treating it as an opportunity instead of a liability. Michael and his team are responsible for development of genetic tools and synthetic pathways as well as strain engineering of LanzaTech’s proprietary gas fermenting organisms to optimize performance of the process and expand the product portfolio. Michael leads several of LanzaTech R&D collaborations with both industrial and academic partners.

    Michael has over 15 years of experience working with clostridia and gas fermenting organisms and holds a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Biotechnology from University of Ulm, Germany. Michael authored over 100 patents and over 30 peer reviewed articles and book chapters. Michael also contributed as scientific advisor to the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and co-organizer of international conferences as the 2018 Foundations of Systems Biology (FOSBE) and Biochemical and Molecular Engineering XXII and has been awarded the 2015 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge award for Greener Synthetic Pathways by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and American Chemical Society (ACS).

  • Aditya Kunjapur

    Dr. Aditya Kunjapur began as an Assistant Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware in December 2018. His lab focuses on expanding the repertoire of microbial chemistry with an emphasis on enabling new chemical functional groups in living contexts. Dr. Kunjapur received his doctoral degree from MIT in 2015, where he trained under Dr. Kristala Prather and enabled aldehyde biosynthesis in E. coli. Afterwards, he performed postdoctoral research under the supervision of Dr. George Church at Harvard Medical School, where he designed platforms to improve the fidelity of non-standard amino acid incorporation into proteins. Dr. Kunjapur was previously Co-Chair of the Synberc Student and Postdoc Association, the precursor to the EBRC. In 2019, Dr. Kunjapur was awarded an Emerging Leaders in Biosecurity Initiative Fellowship.

  • Merja Penttilä

    Merja Penttilä is a research professor in biotechnology at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, and an adjunct professor in synthetic biology at Aalto University. Her expertise is on engineering of microbes for the production of fuels, chemicals, enzymes and materials. She has acted as the director of the Academy of Finland CoE on White biotechnology – Green chemistry, and is a PI in the current CoE on Molecular engineering of biosynthetic hybrid materials (Hyber). She has coordinated a large strategic project “Living Factories: Synthetic Biology for a sustainable Bioeconomy”, and led many EU level and industrial projects. She is acting an advisory board or committee member of a number of international organisations. She is the initiator of Synbio Powerhouse, an ecosystem to promote biotechnology and synthetic biology in Finland and beyond. She has total of 334 publications, 14 457 Web of science citations, and h-index of 70.

  • Zachary Sun

    Zachary Sun is the CEO and co-Founder of Tierra Biosciences, a startup leveraging cell-free synthetic biology, automation, computer learning, and metagenomics to identify new molecules and new chemistry from Nature’s genetic datasets.

  • Sam Weiss Evans

    Sam’s work focuses on the governance of security concerns in emerging research technology, especially biology. He studies and actively engages with a range of communities building new approaches to the identification and governance of security concerns, including US and British governments, the international Genetically Engineered Machines Competition, DARPA, and the United Nations Institute on Disarmament Research.

  • Robert Egbert

    Dr. Robert Egbert (Rob) is a staff scientist in the Biological Sciences Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Dr. Egbert is an expert in bacterial genetic circuit design and genome engineering. He received dual-BS degrees in electrical engineering and Korean at Brigham Young University, a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Washington working with Eric Klavins, and a joint appointment as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with Adam Arkin. He currently leads a DOE program in Secure Biosystems Design on novel genome remodeling approaches to control the persistence of engineered functions in the environment, is Integration Lead for a PNNL-led team for the DARPA Friend or Foe program, and is Co-PI for data-driven synthetic biology within the DARPA Synergistic Discovery and Design program. Dr. Egbert is also the Science Lead for an PNNL internal investment in synthetic biology and biosecurity. Outside of work, Rob loves adventures with his wife and three children: swimming, kayaking, and river rafting in lakes and rivers of the mountain West; backpacking in the Pacific Northwest, Utah red rocks, and Canadian Rocky Mountains; and pinball. Rob also enjoys playing competitive ultimate frisbee.

  • Kevin Solomon

    Dr. Kevin Solomon is an Assistant Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. His work studies animal microbiomes to develop novel microbial platforms for sustainable biomanufacturing and depolymerization of polymeric waste substrates. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering from McMaster University (Canada) and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT. As part of his graduate work, Dr. Solomon developed new tools to increase biomanufacturing efficiency. His research and mentorship, at the intersection of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology, were recognized with multiple awards including a Lemelson Presidential Fellowship, an NSERC Julie Payette Award, and a Science Education Leadership Award from SynBERC. As a postdoctoral fellow at UC Santa Barbara, he applied the latest advances in sequencing technologies to study how anaerobic fungi degrade lignocellulose and identify new tools for synthetic biology. Using these techniques, he spearheaded efforts to molecularly characterize in depth a class of elusive microbes with tremendous potential for biofuel production, agriculture, and drug discovery. His work is supported by the NSF, DOE, private trusts and industry.

  • Jesse Zalatan

    Jesse Zalatan is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Washington. His research focuses on understanding the physical organizing principles of biological networks in systems such as cell signaling, metabolism, and gene regulation, using methods ranging from mechanistic enzymology to synthetic biology. Jesse did his graduate work with Dan Herschlag on the mechanisms of enzyme-catalyzed phosphoryl transfer reactions. He performed postdoctoral research with Wendell Lim, where he studied mechanisms for controlling specificity in cell signaling networks.

  • Jean Peccoud

    Dr. Peccoud’s research program focuses on synthetic biology informatics. His group combines computational and experimental efforts to develop predictive models of behaviors encoded in synthetic DNA sequences. He is particularly interested in using methods from synthetic biology to optimize biomanufacturing processes used to produce biologic drugs, antibodies, and other proteins of commercial interest. Peccoud is also actively engaged in efforts to understand the security implications of synthetic biology.

    Shortly after completing a graduate research project in molecular immunology, Jean Peccoud’s scientific interests shifted to computational biology. In 1989, he published one of the first articles describing a mathematical model of molecular noise in gene regulatory networks. In 1993, he recognized the importance of real-time PCR and developed new statistical techniques suitable to analyze this new type of data. In 2002, he observed with excitement the very early developments of synthetic biology. After exploring the potential applications of this new technology to plant biotechnology, he blazed a trail in synthetic biology informatics.

    Jean Peccoud came to Colorado State University from the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech. He brought with him a diverse experience that includes working for Fortune 500 and start-up companies. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Synthetic Biology published by Oxford University Press.

  • Kate Adamala

    Kate Adamala is a biochemist building synthetic cells. Her research aims at understanding chemical principles of biology, using artificial cells to create new tools for bioengineering, drug development, and basic research. Kate’s research spans questions from the origin and earliest evolution of life, using synthetic biology to colonize space, to the future of biotechnology and medicine.

  • Fumiaki Hamazato

    Senior Engineer, Technology Development Center, Innvation Division, Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation
    Professional Engineer, Japan (Biotechnology)

  • Javin Oza

    PhD in Biomolecular Science and Engineering at UC Santa Barbara; Post-doc in biological engineering at Northwestern University with Dr. Michal Jewett. My research group aims to integrate biological engineering with hypothesis driven science to advance our understanding of human biochemistry and physiology. A major thrust of my research group focuses on adapting biotechnologies for the classroom to enable inquiry-based learning.

  • Alec Nielsen

  • Jussi Jantti

  • Mike Fero

    Michael Fero is a Co-Founder and CEO of TeselaGen Biotechnology Inc., a San Francisco based software company that has built Synthetic Evolution® – the AI driven operating system for synthetic biology. Michael received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California and contributed to the verification of the Standard Model at CERN and SLAC via the world’s most precise measurement of the Weinberg angle governing the coupling between the electromagnetic and weak interactions. Dr. Fero’s interest in biology led to a collaboration with Pat Brown and David Botstein at Stanford to build the world’s first human genome microarrays and do early research on expression level characterization of cancer cells. Dr. Fero then turned to systems biology where, in collaboration with Lucy Shapiro and Harley McAdams, he developed an automated high content diffraction limited microscopic screen of triply fluorescently tagged bacteria to better understand the bacterial cell cycle. Afterwards, Dr. Fero and two Stanford Shapiro/McAdams Lab colleagues started TeselaGen Biotechnology as a way to accelerate synthetic biology and the bio-based economy. Seeing a big deficiency in biologists’ ability to create what they imagine, TeselaGen focuses on making the mind to molecule process easier and faster with an AI driven, cloud-based enterprise platform for synthetic biology.

  • Roel Bovenberg

    I am currently working on natural product discovery programs, yeast strains and enzymes that can convert agricultural residues into bioethanol and various microbial cell factory programs for more sustainable production of enzymes, biochemicals and natural products, such as antibiotics. Another aspect is the development of both traditional evolution and bioinformatics methods for fast screening and safe engineering of desired microbial cell factories. At the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, my projects focus on the development of new cell engineering methods for filamentous fungi, to accelerate the discovery of natural products for – among other things – new antibiotics.The aspect of my work that excites and inspires me the most is that Biotechnology can contribute in many ways to the big global societal challenges, as outlined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, by addressing key technical challenges and that DSM is in the position to make a real contribution. The fast developments in the Biological Sciences are both a constant challenge and a source of inspiration, especially the increasing knowledge and technologies to characterize, understand and deploy microbial life. Another source of inspiration is the necessity to do so in a responsible manner, which requires good education, relevant stakeholder networks, clear communication and continuous learning.

  • Sri Kosuri

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