Individual Members

  • Nicole Buan

    Nicole Buan is an Associate Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has broad expertise in microbial physiology, metabolism, and redox biochemistry. Dr. Buan recently co-founded the Archaea Power Hour virtual seminar series and serves as Associate Editor for Applied Environmental Microbiology and Frontiers in Microbiology (Microbial Physiology and Metabolism) journals. Dr. Buan began research as a high school student in Tucson, Arizona, where she did undergraduate thesis research on ATP-independent molecular chaperone proteins in plants under the supervision of Dr. Elizabeth Vierling at the University of Arizona. She received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was a Howard Hughes Predoctoral Fellow in the lab of Jorge Escalante-Semerena. There, she made key contributions to understanding protein:protein interactions involved in coenzyme B12 synthesis in Salmonella, discovered the only known iron-sulfur-cluster-containing B12 adenosyltransferase enzyme, and investigated the use of B12 mimics as chemotherapeutic “Trojan horses”. Her graduate work was recognized by the Department of Bacteriology Herman Smythe Award for Outstanding PhD research. As a NIH Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of William Metcalf at the University of Illinois, Dr. Buan received training in methanogen genetics and characterized the terminal oxidase heterodisulfide reductase enzymes. At Nebraska, Dr. Buan and her students study redox biochemistry, systems, and synthetic biology in archaea, bacteria, and plants on various projects funded by NSF, NIH, USDA, Nebraska Center for Energy Sciences Research, Nebraska Corn Board, and the Water Environment Reuse Foundation. Buan lab research has been awarded two patents, and Dr. Buan is the owner of two biotech startups.

  • Xiaojun Tian

    Dr. Xiaojun Tian received his Ph. D. degree in systems biology from Nanjing University in 2012 and spent five years as a postdoctoral fellow at Virginia Tech and the University of Pittsburgh. In 2017, he joined the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering at Arizona State University to start his lab and synthetic biology research. His lab has made outstanding achievements with several publications at Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Communications, and ACS synthetic biology. In addition, he recently received the NIH Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) award.

  • Arum Han

    Dr. Arum Han is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and also in the Department of Biomedical Engineering (courtesy joint appointment) at Texas A&M University (USA). He joined Texas A&M University in 2005 as an Assistant Professor. He is also a faculty of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and the Texas A&M Institute for Neuroscience. He received his Ph.D from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2005, his M.S. from the University of Cincinnati in 2000, and his B.S. from the Seoul National University in 1997, all in electrical engineering.

    His research interests are in solving grand challenge problems in the broad areas of health and energy through the use of micro/nano systems technologies. His work in these areas has focused on the development of high-throughput lab-on-a-chip systems for single-cell-resolution assays, synthetic biology and biotechnology applications, as well as development of organ-on-a-chip systems through

    He has co-authored more than 80 peer-reviewed publications and has received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, NIH, NSF, DARPA, DTRA, USDA, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Qatar National Research Foundation (QNRF), and several other international sponsors and private companies. He currently serves as the editorial board member of the journal PLoS ONE, Algal Research, and Biotechnology and Bioprocess Engineering, as well as associate editor for the journal Biomedical Microdevices.

    He is a Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) Fellow (2012), Eugene Webb Faculty Fellow of Texas A&M University (2014), recipient of the Engineering Genesis Award for Multidisciplinary Research from Texas A&M University (2014), recipient of the E. D. Brockett Professorship Award (2015), recipient of the Dean of Engineering Excellence Award (2016), and became the Presidential Impact Fellow of the Texas A&M University in 2017.

  • Christopher Mason

    Dr. Christopher Mason is an Associate Professor of Genomics, Physiology, and Biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine and the Director of the WorldQuant Initiative for Quantitative Prediction. He also holds affiliate appointments at the Tri-I Program on Computational Biology and Medicine (Cornell, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Rockefeller University), Harvard Medical School, and Yale Law School.
    The Mason laboratory develops and deploys new biochemical and computational methods in functional genomics to elucidate the genetic basis of human disease and physiology. We create and deploy novel techniques in next-generation sequencing and algorithms for: tumor evolution, genome evolution, DNA and RNA modifications, and genome/epigenome engineering. We also work closely with NIST/FDA to build international standards for these methods (SEQC2, IMMSA, and Epigenomics QC groups), to ensure clinical-quality genome measurements and editing. We also work with NASA to build integrated molecular portraits of genomes, epigenomes, transcriptomes, and metagenomes for astronauts, which help establish the molecular foundations and genetic defenses for enabling long-term human spaceflight.
    Dr. Mason has won the NIH’s Transformative R01 Award, the NASA Group Achievement Award, the Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance Young Investigator award, the Hirschl-Weill-Caulier Career Scientist Award, the Vallee Scholar Award, the CDC Honor Award for Standardization of Clinical Testing, and the WorldQuant Foundation Scholar Award. He was named as one of the “Brilliant Ten” Scientists by Popular Science, featured as a TEDMED speaker, and called “The Genius of Genetics” by 92Y. He has >230 peer-reviewed papers and scholarly works that have been featured on the covers of Nature, Science, Cell, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Microbiology, and Neuron, as well as legal briefs cited by the U.S. District Court and U.S. Supreme Court.

  • Cinnamon Bloss

    Cinnamon Bloss, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Longevity Science and Director of the Center for Empathy and Technology at the University of California San Diego. Dr. Bloss is jointly appointed in the Department of Psychiatry and the Division of Biomedical Informatics in the School of Medicine. Dr. Bloss researches social and behavioral phenomena related to emerging technologies, with a particular focus on genetic and genomic research, precision health, and big data. Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and philanthropic donations. Dr. Bloss serves as a member of the Novel and Exceptional Technology and Research Advisory Committee, a federal advisory committee that provides recommendations to the NIH Director and a public forum for the discussion of the scientific, safety, and ethical issues associated with emerging biotechnologies. Dr. Bloss has given invited talks at the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the National Press Club, the National Institutes of Health, and has presented invited testimony before a Food and Drug Administration Advisory Panel to inform consumer genomics policy. Dr. Bloss was recognized by the Western Societies of Medicine with the Carmel Prize for Research Excellence and has received numerous teaching awards at the University of California San Diego.

  • Jenny Mortimer

    Dr. Jenny Mortimer is a Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in California. After completing graduate work at Cambridge University, UK on signal transduction in roots, she began studying the plant cell wall as a postdoc with Prof. Paul Dupree and the BBSRC Bioenergy Centre (BSBEC), also at Cambridge. This was followed by a fellowship at RIKEN Yokohama, Japan, hosted by Prof. Taku Demura.

    At LBNL, she leads the Plant Systems Biology Group and is Deputy Vice President of the Feedstocks Division at the Department of Energy (DoE)-funded Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI; jbei.org). Her group (mortimerlab.org) seeks to understand how plants use the products of photosynthesis – simple sugars – to build complex biological molecules. This knowledge is being used to produce renewable, sustainable, fuels and biochemicals from plant biomass. Her lab is also developing new synthetic biology and bioinformatics tools for bioenergy crops (such as new transformation tools for sorghum as part of the DoE Plant Genomics program), and investigating the role of plant cell walls in recruiting and retaining the rhizosphere microbiome, for example as part of the DoE mCAFEs project (https://mcafes.lbl.gov/).

    Dr. Mortimer is also co-leading the LBNL EcoPOD team, which is developing highly-instrumented mesocosms to bridge the scale and complexity gap between laboratory and field plant-microbe-soil research. The EcoPOD project will help researchers to test and model engineered organisms in a secure environment.

  • Cong Trinh

    Dr. Cong T. Trinh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Trinh earned his B.S in Chemical Engineering (summa cum laude, honors thesis) with minors in Chemistry and Mathematics from The University of Houston and his PhD in Chemical Engineering from The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. He then worked as a post-doc scholar at The University of California, Berkeley.

  • Jennifer Brophy

    Jenn Brophy is an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford University. Her lab focuses on engineering plant development to control the size and shape of plant organs and tissues. Jenn received her BS in bioengineering from UC Berkeley and PhD from MIT, where she worked with Professors Christopher Voigt and Alan Grossman to develop a tool for engineering undomesticated bacteria and modifying microbiomes in situ. For her postdoctoral research, she worked with Professor Jose Dinneny at Stanford to engineer spatial patterns of gene expression across plant roots using synthetic genetic circuits. Jenn was previously Co-Chair of the Synberc Student and Postdoc Association, the precursor to the EBRC and was recently awarded a Chan Zuckerburg Biohub Investigatorship.

  • Umakant Mishra

  • Theodore Anton

    I am a popular science and nonfiction author. My most recent book was Planet of Microbes (University of Chicago Press, 2017). I’m writing a book called Programmable Planet: The Synthetic Biology Revolution to be published by Columbia University Press in fall, 2022.

  • Niall Mangan

    Niall M. Mangan received the Dual BS degrees in mathematics and physics, with a minor in chemistry, from Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY, USA, in 2008, and the PhD degree in systems biology from Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA, in 2013. Dr. Mangan worked as a postdoctoral associate in the Photovoltaics Lab at MIT from 2013-2015 and as an Acting Assistant Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle from 2016-2017. She is currently an Assistant Professor of engineering sciences and applied mathematics with Northwestern University, where she works at the interface of mechanistic modeling, machine learning, and statistical inference. Her group applies these methods to many applications including metabolic and regulatory networks to accelerate the build-test-learn cycle.

  • Omar Akbari

    In May of 2005, Omar Akbari received a B.S./M.S. in Biotechnology from the University of Nevada, Reno. In December of 2008, he received a Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Nevada, Reno where he studied transcriptional regulation during development. He then joined the laboratory of professor Bruce A. Hay at the California Institute of Technology as a Postdoctoral Scholar to develop population control technologies for animals. In 2015, he became an Assistant Professor of Entomology in the Center for Infectious Disease Vector Research (CIDVR) at the University of California, Riverside. In fall of 2017, he joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Cell and Developmental Biology Section, within the Division of Biological Sciences, at the University of California, San Diego. In 2018 he co-founded Agragene a biotechnology based startup in San Diego, CA. In 2019 he was promoted to Associate Professor (w/Tenure) in the Cell and Developmental Biology Section, within the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of California, San Diego.

  • Yasuo Yoshikuni

    Dr. Yasuo Yoshikuni is a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. He leads the DNA synthesis science user program at the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI). His program has already supported more than 200 user projects globally, and several major publications were published through the program. Dr. Yoshikuni’s personal research focus is to study and understand microbe- and plant-microbe communications for sustainable agriculture, developing non-model yeast for fuel and chemical production, and biomaterials synthesis using systems and synthetic biology. Before joining the DOE JGI, Dr. Yoshikuni was co-founder and chief science officer at a clean technology start-up, Bio Architecture Lab, Inc. (BAL), where his significant achievement was using systems and synthetic biology to discover novel pathways assimilating unique sugar polymers in macroalgae and to develop the first microbial platform technologies unlocking the potential of macroalgae as an environmentally sustainable and cost-effective biomass for production of renewable fuels and chemicals. The development of this technology allowed the company to build a strong IP propositions and to raise ~$40 million from private funding sources, receive prestigious national grants, and build a commercial partnership with leading companies in the oil and chemical industries. The work also led to several patents and high-impact scientific publications.

  • Todd Treangen

    I am an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at Rice University in Houston, TX. My research group focuses on bioinformatics, specializing in metagenomics, biosecurity, and microbial forensics. In addition, I have prioritized developing open-source bioinformatics software and analysis pipelines designed to facilitate exploratory and hypothesis-driven biological research, aimed at the intersection of microbial ecology, comparative genomics, and computer science. https://www.gitlab.com/treangenlab

  • Aindrila Mukhopadhyay

    Dr. Mukhopadhyay is a Senior Scientist in the Biological Systems and Engineering Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in Berkeley, CA. She received a master’s in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology in, Mumbai, India in 1996 and a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL in 2002. She did her postdoctoral research at UC Berkeley and LBNL. Currently, she is the principal investigator of her team that is part of several large interdisciplinary projects, mainly focused on engineered and environmental microbial systems. She is the Vice President of the Biofuels and Bioproducts Division at the Department of Energy funded, Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) and is also the Director of its Host Engineering group. As part of JBEI her group develops tools to examine and engineer a variety of microbial platforms including Pseudomonas putida, Corynebacterium glutamicum, Escherichia coli, Rhodosporidium toruloides, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and other microbial strains. She uses a range of functional genomics, metabolic modeling, and systems biology approaches. Her group specifically focuses on developing robust strains that show high tolerance and productivity during biofuel and chemical production, and the optimization required to achieve scalability.

  • William Bentley

    WILLIAM E. BENTLEY is the Robert E. Fischell Distinguished Chair in Engineering and was the founding Chair of the Fischell Department of Bioengineering. At Maryland since 1989, Dr. Bentley has focused his research on the development of molecular tools that facilitate the expression of biologically active proteins, having authored over 300 related archival publications. Recent interests in synthetic biology and biofabrication exploit the components of bacterial quorum sensing and redox for opening ‘communication’ between electronic devices and biological systems. He has mentored over 40 PhDs and 21 postdocs. He is co-PI of Maryland’s Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (CERSI), a comprehensive joint initiative with the FDA and Maryland’s Baltimore campus. He is also co-PI of the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation, joint with Children’s National Medical Center. Dr. Bentley is a Fellow of the ACS, AAAS, and AIMBE and is an elected member of the American Academy of Microbiology.

  • Mo Ebrahimkhani

    Dr. Mo Ebrahimkhani is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh. He is also a member of the Division of Experimental Pathology and the Pittsburgh Liver Research Center. Prior to his current position he was an assistant professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering at Arizona State University and adjunct faculty of medicine at Mayo Clinic. He performed his Postdoctoral training at the Department of Biological Engineering in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
    Dr. Ebrahimkhani has an MD degree from Tehran University of Medical Sciences and was awarded a European Association for Study of Liver Sheila Sherlock Fellowship to investigate regenerative processes at University College London. His lab combines human stem cells, synthetic biology and in vivo mouse models to understand tissue development and regeneration and develop technologies to modulate these processes in a personalized fashion. Dr. Ebrahimkhani is the recipient of several research awards including RO1s from NIH, Mayo Clinic accelerated regenerative medicine award and New Investigator Award from Arizona Biomedical Research Council. He is also a member of PLOS ONE Editorial Board (2018- present).
    He directs THE LABORATORY FOR SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY AND REGENERATIVE MEDICINE. His lab research combines systems and synthetic biology-based approaches to program development of induced pluripotent stem cells across the developmental trajectories and towards human designer liver organoids and hematopoietic niches. This approach will open novel opportunities for next generation genomically engineered human tissues, personalized disease modeling and more effective regenerative therapies. His vision is to advance regenerative medicine through integrating systems and synthetic biology.

  • Matthew DeLisa

    Matthew P. DeLisa is the William L. Lewis Professor of Engineering in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University and also the Director of the Cornell Institute of Biotechnology. His research focuses on understanding and controlling the molecular mechanisms underlying protein biogenesis — folding and assembly, membrane translocation and post-translational modifications — in the complex environment of a living cell. He received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1996; a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 2001; and did postdoctoral work at the University of Texas-Austin, Department of Chemical Engineering. DeLisa joined the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University in 2003.

    DeLisa has received over a dozen honorific distinctions and prestigious awards for his accomplishments in research including an NSF CAREER Award, a NYSTAR Watson Young Investigator Award, a Beckman Foundation Young Investigator Award, an MIT Technology Review TR35 Award (Top 35 Young Innovators under the age of 35), an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, a NYSTAR Distinguished Faculty Award, the Wiley-Blackwell Biotechnology and Bioengineering Wang Award, and the American Chemical Society BIOT Division Young Investigator Award. More recently, DeLisa was selected to the IDA/DARPA Defense Science Study Group in 2014 and was elected as a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 2014, the American Academy of Microbiology in 2019, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2019.

  • Leonidas Bleris

    Leonidas Bleris is an Associate Professor with the Bioengineering Department of the University of Texas at Dallas. Before joining UTD, Bleris was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the FAS Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University. Bleris earned a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University in 2006. He received a Diploma in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2000 from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. Bleris was awarded the Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship from the National Academy of Science (NAS), and served with the Board of Mathematical Sciences and their Applications. During 2009-2010, Bleris was a Visiting Scientist at the FAS Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University, and since 2008 an Independent Expert with the European Commission under the “Science, Economy and Society” directorate. Bleris served as the University of Texas at Dallas Representative for the 2011-2012 Tuning Oversight Council for Engineering and Science, Committee on Bioengineering, and received the 2014 Junior Faculty Research Award from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. In 2018 Bleris was awarded a Cecil H. and Ida Green Chair in Systems Biology Science. His research has focused on systems biology, mammalian synthetic biology and genome editing, and has received support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) including the NSF CAREER award.

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