Council

  • Steve Evans

    Steven Evans

    Steven L. Evans spent 30 years bringing biotechnology products to the field in small and large companies. Steve’s research blended high-resolution chemical analysis with enzymology and recombinant protein expression to explore agricultural and environmental applications of biotechnology. In 1988 he joined Mycogen Corporation, now Corteva Agriscience, where he was involved in developing natural and recombinant biopesticides, including several crop traits from the Mycogen genome pipeline. He worked to commercialize biochemical actives from natural products, several transgenic crops, and plant genome editing technology. After retiring as a Fellow from Dow AgroSciences he founded Re-Knowvate LLC. His passion is to use this experience and repurpose it today in organizations which drive 21st century biotechnology so that they may learn from the actions of the early pioneers in applied biotechnology, thus accelerating their ability to develop and deploy new technologies to benefit our world. Steve has been active in public-private partnerships such as the National Science Foundation–sponsored SynBERC synthetic biology consortium, which is now the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC). He served as Chair of the SynBERC the Industrial Advisory Board, and is now active in various roles at the EBRC. Steve served on the National Academies of Sciences Future Products of Biotechnology study and is currently on the NAS Safeguarding the Bioeconomy study. He was co-chair of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s Industrial and Environmental Section synthetic biology subteam. He received his BA and BS degrees in chemistry and microbiology from the University of Mississippi and a PhD in microbial physiology from the University of Mississippi Medical School. He was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, and subsequently with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Peoria, Illinois.

  • Laurie Zoloth

    Laurie Zoloth

    A leader in the field of religious studies with particular scholarly interest in bioethics and Jewish studies, Laurie Zoloth’s research explores religion and ethics, drawing from sources ranging from Biblical and Talmudic texts to postmodern Jewish philosophy, including the writings of Emmanuel Levinas. Her scholarship spans the ethics of genetic engineering, stem cell research, synthetic biology, social justice in health care, and how science and medicine are taught. She also researches the practices of interreligious dialogue, exploring how religion plays a role in public discussion and policy.

    Zoloth is author of Health Care and the Ethics of Encounter: A Jewish Discussion of Social Justice and co-editor of five books, including Notes from a Narrow Ridge: Religion and Bioethics and Jews and Genes: The Genetic Future in Contemporary Jewish Thought.

    Zoloth has been the president of the American Academy of Religion and the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. She was the inaugural director of the Jewish Studies program at San Francisco State University and director of graduate studies in religious studies at Northwestern. She is an elected member of the Hastings Center and a life member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge. She is a founding board member of the Society for Scriptural Reasoning.

    Her work on bioethics and health care led her to serve on the NASA Advisory Council, the space agency’s highest civilian advisory board; the International Planetary Protection Committee; the National Recombinant DNA Advisory Board, and the executive committee of the International Society for Stem Cell Research. She served as chair of the first bioethics advisory board at the Howard Hughes Medical Research Institute and has testified in front of Congress, the President’s Commission on Bioethics, and state legislatures.

    Zoloth began her career as a neonatal nurse working in impoverished communities; she holds a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of the State of New York. She received a master’s degree in Jewish studies and a doctorate in social ethics from the Graduate Theological Union. Zoloth also holds a master’s degree in English from San Francisco State University.

    Prior to joining the University of Chicago, Zoloth served as a Charles McCormick Deering Professor of Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University, holding appointments in the Department of Religious Studies in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and in the Feinberg School of Medicine. At Northwestern, she was founding director of the Brady Program in Ethics and Civic Life at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and founding director of the Center for Bioethics, Science and Society at the Feinberg School of Medicine.

    She currently serves on the Ethics Advisory Board of NASA; the steering committee of The Engineering Biology Research Committee; on the CDC (Biological Agents Working Group); and on the Ethics Board of the American Heart Association.

  • Danielle Tullman-Ercek

  • Michael Smanski

    Michael Smanski is currently an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics in the Biotechnology Institute at the University of Minnesota. He received his BS in Biochemistry from the University of California, San Diego and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Wisconsin under the mentorship of Ben Shen. As an HHMI Postdoctoral Fellow of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, he worked with Christopher Voigt in the Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota in 2014. Throughout his career, Michael has studied and engineered multi-gene systems in bacteria. His group at UMN has developed a new platform for engineering ‘species-like’ barriers to sexual reproduction, and they are currently exploring applications for transgene biocontainment and the control of pest populations. Michael has been a member of EBRC since 2018 and has served on the EBRC Council from 2019-present.

  • Kristala Prather

    Kristala L. J. Prather is the Arthur D. Little Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT. She received an S.B. degree from MIT in 1994 and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley (1999), and worked 4 years in BioProcess Research and Development at the Merck Research Labs prior to joining the faculty of MIT. Her research interests are centered on the design and assembly of recombinant microorganisms for the production of small molecules. Prather is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions; she has co-authored more than 90 peer-reviewed publications and given more than 140 invited presentations.

  • Michelle O’Malley

    Michelle A. O’Malley is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 2004 and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 2009, where she worked with Prof. Anne Robinson to engineer overproduction of membrane proteins in yeast. O’Malley was a USDA-NIFA postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at MIT and the Broad Institute, where she developed new strategies for cellulosic biofuel production. At UCSB, her research group develops synthetic biology tools to engineer protein synthesis within anaerobes and microbial consortia for sustainable chemical production, bioremediation, and natural product discovery. O’Malley’s research has been featured on NPR’s Science Friday, the BBC Newshour, the LA Times, and several other media outlets. She was named one of the 35 Top Innovators Under 35 in the world by MIT Technology Review in 2015, and is the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), a DOE Early Career Award, an NSF CAREER award, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the ACS BIOT Division Young Investigator Award, the ACS PMSE Division Young Investigator Award, an ACS WCC “Rising Star” Award, and a Hellman Faculty Fellowship.

  • Tae Seok Moon

    He has 24 years of research experience in chemistry, systems biology, and synthetic biology, including 5.5 years of industry experience (as of 2021). His research focus (2012-21; 15 grants; $7.3M external funding to him; $16M to the entire team) is understanding gene regulation, evolution, and metabolism, building sensors and genetic circuits, and engineering microbes to solve global problems, including climate crisis, waste valorization, plastic upcycling, sustainability, and health issues. He has published 52 papers, has filed 9 patents, and has given 51 invited and 118 contributed presentations. He has advised 26 PhD/Postdoctoral and 28 undergrad researchers. He is a Founder and Head of the SAB of Moonshot Bio. Several awards include a B&B Wang Award, an NSF CAREER award, an ONR YIP, a Sluder Fellowship (MIT), and the SNU President Prize. He is the Founding Chair of SynBYSS (Synthetic Biology Young Speaker Series) with more than 1000 global audiences.

    Twitter handle: @Moon_Synth_Bio

    LinkedIn Profile

  • June Medford

  • Chang Liu

    Professor Liu’s research is in the fields of synthetic biology, chemical biology, and directed evolution. He is particularly interested in engineering specialized genetic systems for rapid mutation and evolution in vivo to address problems ranging from protein engineering to developmental biology. For his group’s work, Professor Liu has been recognized with a number of awards including the NIH Transformative Research Award, the NIH New Innovator Award, the Moore Inventor Fellowship, the Sloan Research Fellowship, the Beckman Young Investigator Award, the Dupont Young Professor Award, and the ACS Synthetic Biology Young Innovator Award.

  • Richard Kitney

    Richard Kitney

  • Jay Keasling

  • Michael Jewett

    Michael Jewett is the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, the Walter P. Murphy Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Director of the Center for Synthetic Biology at Northwestern University. Dr. Jewett received his PhD in 2005 at Stanford University, completed postdoctoral studies at the Center for Microbial Biotechnology in Denmark and the Harvard Medical School, and was a guest professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). He is the recipient of the NIH Pathway to Independence Award, David and Lucile Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, Camille-Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and a Finalist for the Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, among others. He is the co-founder of SwiftScale Biologics, Stemloop, Inc., Pearl Bio, Induro Therapeutics, and Design Pharmaceuticals. Jewett is a Fellow of AIMBE, AAAS, and NAI.

  • Karmella Haynes

    Karmella Haynes

  • John Glass

    John Glass

    Dr. John Glass is a Professor and leader of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) Synthetic Biology and Bioenergy Group. His expertise is in molecular biology, microbial pathogenesis, RNA virology, and microbial genomics. Glass is part of the Venter Institute team that created the first bacterial cell with a chemically synthesized genome and a bacterial cell with a synthetic genome encoding only the essential gene set needed for life. In reaching this milestone the Venter Institute scientists developed the fundamental techniques of the new field of synthetic genomics including genome transplantation and genome assembly. Glass was also leader of the JCVI project that rapidly made synthetic influenza virus vaccine strains in collaboration with Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, Inc. and Synthetic Genomics, Inc. At the JCVI he has also led the bacterial outer membrane vesicle based vaccine, genome transplantation, and Mycoplasma genitalium minimal genome projects, and projects studying other mycoplasma and ureaplasma species. Glass and his Venter Institute colleagues are now using synthetic biology and synthetic genomics approaches developed at the JCVI to create cells and organelles with redesigned genomes to make microbes that can produce biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and industrially valuable molecules. Glass is an adjunct faculty member of the University of Maryland at College Park Cellular and Molecular Biology Program, one of the founding members of the Build-A-Cell program to create synthetic cells, and member of the Global Viral Network Scientific Leadership Board.

    Prior to joining the JCVI, Glass spent five years in the Infectious Diseases Research Division of the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. There he was a member of the hepatitis C virology group and a microbial genomics group (1998-2003). There Glass was part of the Lilly and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. team that developed Incivek, one of the first drugs to cure hepatitis C virus.
    Glass earned his undergraduate (Biology) and graduate degrees (Genetics) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His Ph.D. work was on RNA virus genetics in the laboratory of Gail Wertz. He was on the faculty and did postdoctoral fellowships in the Microbiology Department of the University of Alabama at Birmingham in polio virology with Casey Morrow and mycoplasma pathogenesis with Gail Cassell (1990-1998). On sabbatical leave in Ellson Chen’s lab at Applied Biosystems, Inc. (1995-1997) he sequenced the genome of Ureaplasma parvum and began his study of bacterial genomics.

  • Emma Frow

    Emma’s research and teaching activities focus on the governance of emerging biotechnologies, especially synthetic biology and biological engineering. She started her research life as a bioscientist, completing a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, and then re-trained in the field of science & technology studies (STS) at the University of Edinburgh and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Her current faculty position at Arizona State University is a joint appointment between the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the School of Biological & Health Systems Engineering, which allows her to straddle the worlds of science policy and bioengineering. Emma has been studying the field of synthetic biology for a decade now, working on a variety of social scientific and interdisciplinary projects in Europe and the US. She has specific research interests in the relationship between engineering and biology, and in the standards and infrastructures (physical, digital, social) being designed to support the development of this field. She sees standards and infrastructures as tools of governance, and is interested in identifying the values, design choices and visions of the future that get built into new infrastructures for biotechnology.

  • Andrew Ellington

    The Ellington lab works on using synthetic biology to augment organismal chemistry, generating expanded genetic alphabets and genetic codes. In addition, we attempt to developing orthogonal control systems for a variety of organisms that allow us to readily lay in new instruction sets that can operate on top of normal metabolism. Between these innovations, it has proven possible to develop and produce novel biomaterials, with the ultimate goal of being able to direct the evolution of materials properties.

  • Mary Dunlop

    Mary Dunlop is an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University with additional appointments in Molecular Biology, Cell Biology & Biochemistry and Bioinformatics. She graduated from Princeton University with a B.S.E. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and a minor in Computer Science. She then received her Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, where she studied synthetic biology with a focus on dynamics and feedback in gene regulation. As a postdoctoral scholar, she conducted research on biofuel production at the Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute. Her lab engineers novel synthetic feedback control systems and also studies naturally occurring examples of feedback in gene regulation. In recognition of her outstanding research and service contributions, she has received many honors including a Department of Energy Early Career Award, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and the ACS Synthetic Biology Young Investigator Award.

  • Maitreya Dunham

    The Dunham lab uses synthetic biology, evolution, and genomics to understand how genome variation works in yeast and humans. In service of this goal, we also build tools, both physical devices for continuous culture and DNA gadgets for yeast genetics.

  • Lydia Contreras

    Dr. Lydia M. Contreras is an Associate Professor (and Laurence E. McMakin, Jr. Centennial Fellow) of Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas-Austin; she is also a member of the Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology. She teaches Introduction to Chemical Engineering Computing, Thermodynamics, Introduction to Chemical Engineering Analysis, and Fundamental and Applications of Cellular Regulation. Dr. Contreras obtained a B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University, where she graduated Cum Laude. She completed her PhD in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University, focusing on engineering bacterial cells for improved production of therapeutic proteins. As a postdoctoral associate at the Wadsworth Center (New York State Department of Health), she focused on understanding mechanisms of infection in pathogenic bacteria. She began her career at the University of Texas-Austin in 2011, where she leads a research team focused on RNA biochemistry to study gene regulation mechanisms associated with stress-responses for applications in health and biotechnology. She has received several academic, teaching and service awards including: Biotechnology and Bioengineering Daniel I.C. Wang Award, Department of Thrust Reduction Agency (DTRA) Young Investigator, Airforce Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator, NSF CAREER, Health and Environmental Institute (HEI) Walter E. Rosenblith New Investigator, Norman Hackerman Advanced Research Program (NHARP) Early Career, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Young Investigator Award, and an Innovative Early-Career Frontiers of Engineering Educator. She lives in Austin, Tx with her husband Chris and is a proud mom to boy-girl twins.

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