Individual Members

  • Reza Zadegan

  • R. Clay Wright

    Clay Wright is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. His lab focuses on understanding and engineering chemical signaling pathways from plants and fungi. Clay received his BS in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from North Carolina State University and PhD in the same from Johns Hopkins University, where he worked with Professor Marc Ostermeier to engineer cancer therapeutic enzymes that are selectively active in the presence of a cancer marker. For his postdoctoral research, he worked with Professors Jennifer Nemhauser and Eric Klavins at University of Washington to study evolution and function of receptors for auxin, a critical plant growth hormone. Clay was recently awarded an NIH MIRA to further our understanding and engineering of chemically activated ubiquitin ligases, such as those that coordinate auxin signaling and other plant hormone signaling pathways.

  • Eric Young

    Eric Young received undergraduate degrees in Chemical Engineering and Biological Engineering from the University of Maine at Orono. He received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. He completed postdoctoral research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology developing the MIT-Broad Foundry. Dr. Young is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, with affiliate appointments in Biomedical Engineering and Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. His research objective is to understand and engineer microbes that improve the human condition. This research program informs his educational goal – to train the current and future workforce for an economy shaped by engineered biology.

  • Fan Hong

    Fan is interested in developing biomolecular tools to dive into the complexity of biology (decoding and regulating cellular functions on the molecular basis at the tissue scale). Before joining the faculty at the University of Florida, Fan was a Postdoc Fellow at Wyss Institute at Harvard University where he worked on the DNA advanced in situ spatial multi-omics (e.g., DNA thermal-plex) in the Yin Lab. Thermal-plex enables multiplexed fluorescent imaging of biomolecules with unprecedented feasibility and speed for tissue biospecimen analysis. Fan completed his Ph.D. at Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University and worked in the Yan Lab, Green Lab, and Sulc Lab, where he developed methods to program nucleic acids in vitro (e.g., Framework DNA nanoarchitecture), in vivo (e.g., SNIPR), and in silico (e.g., crowder-oxDNA) to address grand questions with chemical approaches to biology. Those methods enable the control of nucleic acid folding into complex framework biomolecular architectures from the nanoscale to the macroscale, the regulation of cellular gene expression based on the single nucleotide mutation in cells with de-novo-designed RNA riboregulators, and the investigation of the biophysical behavior of nucleic acid folding in the crowding cellular environment with molecular dynamics.

  • Miguel Jimenez

    Miguel Jimenez is an Assistant Professor at Boston University, where he runs el Microbial Integration Group. The group integrates engineered microorganisms with mechanical and electronic devices for applications in human health, agriculture, the environment, and entertainment.

  • Lynn Rothschild

    Lynn Rothschild is passionate astrobiologist focusing on the origin and evolution of life on Earth and elsewhere, while at the same time pioneering the use of engineering biology to enable space exploration. Her research focuses on how life, particularly microbes, has evolved in the context of the physical environment, both here and potentially elsewhere. A graduate of Yale, Indiana University and Brown, she has brought her imagination and creativity to the burgeoning field of synthetic biology, articulating a vision for the future of synthetic biology as an enabling technology for NASA’s missions, including human space exploration and astrobiology. From 2011 through 2019 she served as the faculty advisor of the Stanford-Brown iGEM team. Her lab tested these plans in space on in the PowerCell secondary payload on the DLR EuCROPIS satellite. A past-president of the Society of Protozoologists, she is a fellow of the Linnean Society of London, The California Academy of Sciences and the Explorer’s Club. She was awarded the Isaac Asimov Award from the American Humanist Association, and the Horace Mann Award from Brown University. She has been a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) fellow seven times. Lynn was formerly Professor (Adjunct) at Stanford where she taught “Astrobiology and Space Exploration” for a decade.

  • Ian Blaby

    Dr Blaby received his PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK, as a Medical Research Council (MRC) fellowship recipient. After post-doctoral positions at the University of Florida and UCLA (supported by an NIH fellowship), he co-led a DOE Science Focus Area centered on functional genomics of phototrophs at Brookhaven National Laboratory, NY. Since 2019 he heads the DNA synthesis platform at the Joint Genome Institute, where he leads three groups focused on HTP DNA design and assembly, strain engineering and bioinformatic tool development/data analysis.

  • Channabasavaiah Gurumurthy

    CB Gurumurthy (Guru), BVSC, MVSC, PHD, Exec MBA is the Director of Mouse Genome Engineering Core Facility at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), Omaha, Nebraska and he is also a professor in the department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy. He develops and improves mouse genome editing technologies. In collaboration with Dr Masato Ohtsuka, Tokai University, Japan, he has published several landmark papers on CRISPR genome engineering technologies. Two of their breakthrough technologies, Easi-CRISPR and i-GONAD, are now widely adapted at core facilities and laboratories. Several hundreds to thousands of mouse models are generated each year using their methods. Guru has received over 100 invitations within USA and over 20 invitations from 12 countries to deliver keynote talks or presentations, to organize workshops and to chair sessions at conferences. He is one of the six researchers to receive inaugural Outstanding Genomic Innovator award from the National Human Genome Research Institute.

  • Nils Averesch

    Nils is an academic staff scientist and group-leader at Stanford University (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering), researching the conversion of single-carbon feedstocks into advanced biomaterials using microbial biotechnology. His goal is to create a sustainable chemical industry on Earth “on the way” to new frontiers, by developing circular biological production platforms that can support crewed long-duration space-exploration missions. For that, Nils has also explored the usefulness of this approach on a space-analog mission, at the Space Exploration Analog and Simulation Habitat ‘HI-SEAS’, as a proving ground for Mars.

  • Anna Duraj-Thatte

    Anna Duraj-Thatte received her Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology, wherein she worked on protein engineering and directed evolution. Then she pursued her postdoctoral research at Wyss Institute, Harvard University. Dr. Duraj-Thatte’s research focuses on designing and developing novel strategies to produce smart engineered living materials (ELMs) by integrating the fields of synthetic biology, materials engineering, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence (AI). Over the last eight years, she has been developing the field of ELMs by demonstrating one of the first examples of therapeutic living materials and macroscopic transient self-regenerating
    materials for environmental applications. Her research work has also been featured in global media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Smithsonian Magazine, New Scientist, CBS Boston, and Science Alert. She received the Grand Prize in the American National Science Foundation (NSF) Idea Machine competition. She was also selected as a Deep Tech Pioneer and member of Harvard Innovation Lab’s Venture Incubation Program.

  • Elibio Rech

    Elibio Rech, a molecular engineer, geneticist, Researcher at EMBRAPA, and Director of the National Institute of Science and Technology in Synthetic Biology, developed gene transfer technologies to produce commercial genetically modified plant products. Aim to contribute to the design, construction, and engineering of synthetic genomes, cell-free protein expression, and building cell and synthetic genetic circuits, combining top-down and bottom-up approaches within the synergies and intersections of the recombinant DNA technology for synthetic domestication of specific traits from biodiversity.

  • Theresa Loveless

    Theresa Loveless received her Ph.D. in Cell Biology from UCSF, where she studied the molecular biology of DNA replication and the DNA damage response. As a postdoctoral researcher in synthetic biology, in the laboratory of Chang Liu at UC Irvine, she made DNA recorders, synthetic biology tools that transform transient events in a cell’s life into durable changes in a small “recording” region of the cell’s genome. Theresa just started her independent laboratory in the Department of BioSciences at Rice University. The goal of the lab is to make DNA recorders that document the activation history of many signaling pathways in parallel, in physiological settings, over the whole timescale of developmental processes. These recorders will make it possible to study how transient events that are experienced heterogeneously across populations of cells affect the later behavior of each cell. Theresa is a Leading Edge Fellow and a MOSAIC K99/R00 Scholar.

  • Janet Standeven

    An educator with 28 years of classroom experience in Core Sciences, Social Sciences and Biotechnology. Founded the Lambert iGEM program in 2012. In 2022 Lambert’s team was named the Grand Prize Winner of the iGEM Jamboree. The iGEM competition is the leading collegiate competition in the field of synthetic biology. She is a 2022 recipient of a NIH SEPA grant with Dr. Bhamla of Georgia Institute of Technology. In collaboration with members of the Bhamla lab she leads students in research and development of synthetic biology projects that also include hardware and software components. Ongoing projects include the ElectroPen, a 23 cent electroporator and other frugal devices for extraction of DNA and quantification of data.
    Ms. Standeven received a BA in Anthropology and Social Studies Teaching Certificate from Millersville University of Pennsylvania. She earned her Master of Chemical Life Science from the University of Maryland in 2013. During her master’s studies she was a recipient of a G.I.F.T. fellowship with the Styczynski Group at Georgia Institute of Technology and subsequently received RET, support with the Styczynski group from 2014-2018. She is a recipient of numerous teaching awards and recognitions including Teacher of the Year in 2011 for Riverwatch Middle School, 2018 for Lambert High School, Forsyth County School STAR teacher in 2019 and 2023, in addition to being recognized as Biotechnology Teacher of the Year in Georgia for 2016. She was an attendee at the White House Bioeconomy Summit in 2019. She currently participates on the Human Practices committee for the iGEM foundation and serves as a Master Teacher for GABIO’s Rural Teacher Training Initiative.

  • Gozde Demirer

    Gozde was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey and received her B.S. in Chemical and Biological Engineering from Koc University in 2015. Gozde completed her Chemical Engineering Ph.D. at UC Berkeley with Prof. Markita Landry in 2020. During her Ph.D. studies, she developed nanotechnologies for plant genetic engineering. For her postdoctoral work, Gozde joined Prof. Siobhan Brady’s lab at UC Davis, where she studied nutrient use efficiency of tomato and developed high-throughput functional genomics tools to study transcriptional regulation in crops.

  • Joshua Atkinson

    Dr. Atkinson’s research aims to use approaches from synthetic biology, protein engineering, biophysics and electrochemistry to understand and control how microbes and proteins transport electrons. The Atkinson Lab seeks to elucidate the critical role electron transport plays in energy and information processing in cells and microbial communities and to use this knowledge to engineer new biotechnologies that address societal challenges in sustainability, environmental monitoring & remediation, chemical synthesis, and resource recovery & extraction. Areas of current emphasis are the development and application of design rules for (i) how microorganisms use proteins to regulate electron transfer in metabolic networks, (ii) how electron flows shape the structure of microbial communities that impact geochemical cycles, and (iii) how living electronic materials can be built that couple the information processing and catalytic capabilities of biology with electrochemical devices.

  • Ilenne Del Valle

    Ilenne Del Valle is a Research Staff Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Chile and her Ph.D. in Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology from Rice University, where she worked in the Silberg and Masiello lab. Following her Ph.D., she served as a postdoctoral researcher in the Eckert lab at ORNL. Currently, her research focuses on engineering new synthetic biology tools to facilitate ecosystem engineering, with a specific emphasis on environmental, energy, and sustainability applications.

  • Leili Rohani

    Dr. Leili Rohani is a Stem Cell Scientist at the School of Biomedical Engineering, University of British Columbia, and upcoming Research Scientist at MIT Synthetic Biology Center and Department of Biological Engineering. Her research has been focused on stem cells, regenerative medicine, cell therapy, and cell-fate engineering with the intent to provide a platform for future gene and precision therapies for heart diseases. She is passionate about combining tissue engineering, single-nuclei RNA sequencing and synthetic biology tools to create a human single cell atlas of heart disease as a basis for understanding, diagnosing, monitoring, and treating heart diseases. Her end goal is to look at the SynBio platform (tissue engineering, single nuclei RNAseq, synthetic biology) as a new vocabulary for disease studies to determine the ways in which cells and disease genes act, which cells are disrupted in disease, which programs change in them, what mechanisms underlie their (dis)regulation, how their cell-cell communications are affected, and what would be the impact of therapies. Beyond her research, she is passionate about science communication, networking, and collaboration.

  • Mart Loog

    Mart Loog is a professor of molecular systems biology. Mart received Ph.D. in medicinal biochemistry from Uppsala University, Sweden in 2002, followed by postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Francisco. In 2006 Mart established his laboratory at the newly established Institute of Technology. He has received several international fellowships and awards including The Wellcome Trust Senior International Fellowship and a startup research grant from European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). In 2012 he received Estonian National Science Prize in chemistry and molecular biology. In 2015 he was awarded the European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant and became a principal coordinator of H2020 an Horizon Europe projects SynBioTEC (2016), GasFermTEC (2018), and DigiBio (2023) to establish the multidisciplinary Estonian Centre for Bioengineering. Mart’s research directions include regulation of the eukaryotic cell cycle, enzymology of cyclin-dependent kinases, multisite phosphorylation processing, and synthetic biology of signaling circuit design. He is leading a laboratory of 20 people and undergraduate and master’s programs in bioengineering.

  • Vikramaditya Yadav

    Dr. Vikramaditya G. Yadav is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where he directs Canada’s premier program in Sustainable Process Engineering. He has made notable contributions to research, education, commercialization and regulation of synthetic biology and environmental biotechnology. Dr. Yadav also founded Metabolik Technologies Inc., which was acquired by Allonnia, a Bill Gates-backed company, and is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Tersa Earth Innovations, a mining biotechnology company. He is also the Chief Technology Officer of React Zero Carbon, a venture catalyst and capital fund for net zero solutions, and Hilo Bio, a performance biomaterials company. He was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2021 and received UBC’s highest teaching accolade, the Killam Prize, in 2023.

  • Back to top ⇑