Individual Members

  • Ania-Ariadna Baetica

    Dr. Ania-Ariadna Baetica is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics at Drexel University. She received her BA degree from Princeton University in 2012 and her PhD from California Institute of Technology in 2018. Following her degrees, she was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California San Francisco.

    Dr. Baetica’s group leverages control theory along with systems biology, synthetic biology, and computational science to solve biotechnological and medical challenges. Her group designs robust and modular synthetic biological circuits by incorporating layered feedback mechanisms.

  • Ian Ehrenreich

    My lab studies how genomes encode organisms’ phenotypes. To do this, we use techniques from genetics, molecular systems biology, and synthetic biology. In the area of synthetic biology, we have developed new approaches for building synthetic chromosomes from natural DNA.

  • Chelsea Hu

    I’m a new faculty at Texas A&M studying synthetic biology and control theory. Before moving to Texas, I completed four years of postdoctoral training in the Richard Murray Group at Caltech. I received my Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Cornell University in 2018, advised by Julius B. Lucks.

  • Samuel MD Oliveira

    I am a Research Assistant Professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and the director of the Oliveira Lab (www.oliveiralab.me), a recently created research group at Boston University (BU). In addition, I am the Senior Manager of the DAMP lab (www.damplab.org) at BU.

    The Oliveira lab investigates the emergence of microbial community complexity and their underlying interactions in varying environmental contexts and studies microbial community design principles and metrics to help build novel collective behaviors. We hope that breakthroughs in computational and synthetic biology methods will accelerate our knowledge of the links between genetic sequences and intercellular communication to study and engineer the spatiotemporal behavior of biological networks. Among my key collaborators: i) Prof. Chris Voigt (MIT) for improving the predictive DNA design automation tool named Cello (Genetic Circuit Design Automation with Cello 2.0. Nature Protocols).

    In my early career, I have published more than 30 articles in journals, conference proceedings, and book chapters, acted as the guest Editor for JoVE, and as a reviewer for Nat. Comm., ACS Synth. Biol., Synth. Biol. J., among others. In addition, I have directly supervised and co-supervised 7 research staff, 7 graduate students (none of whom received their Ph.D. with me), 3 master’s students, and over 14 undergraduates. I was one of the recipients of the Sao Paulo Foundation’s Best Innovative Biotech Product Award in 2019. Based on that, I co-founded a commercial synthetic biology, automation-based company named Doroth (www.doroth.com.br) in Brazil.

    Currently, with the support from a $1.4M NSF grant, BU’s Professor Douglas Densmore (co-PI), Prof. Andrews (PI) from UMass Amherst, and my team (technical lead support) are teaming up on an ambitious effort to create microscopic, programmable “living devices” which can detect and neutralize specific toxic contaminants found in drinking water.

  • Yogesh Goyal

    Yogesh Goyal is an Assistant Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Yogesh received his B.Tech. with Honors in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, and his Ph.D. in Chemical and Biological Engineering focusing on quantitative developmental biology from Princeton University. Yogesh pursued postdoctoral work in single-cell systems and synthetic biology in Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. Yogesh’s major honors include Burroughs Wellcome Fund CASI Award, Schmidt Science Fellowship, STAT Wunderkind, and the Jane Coffin Childs Fellowship. Yogesh’s group combines theory, computation, and single-cell resolved experiments to track and control cellular plasticity and fate choices in developing tissues and cancer.

  • Caroline Ajo-Franklin

    Caroline Ajo-Franklin earned a B.S. in chemistry from Emory University in Atlanta, GA in 1997 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA in 2004. She trained as Postdoctoral Fellow with Prof. Pam Silver in the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, MA from 2005-2007. From 2007-2019, she was a Staff Scientist within the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, CA. In 2019, she joined the faculty of Rice University in Houston, TX as a Professor of BioSciences with joint appointments in Bioengineering and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Her strongly interdisciplinary, highly collaborative research program focuses on exploring the interface between living organisms and non-living materials and engineering this interface for applications in energy, environment, and biomedicine. Prof. Ajo-Franklin was named as a recipient of the Women@ the Lab award in 2018 and as Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Scholar in 2019. She is on the Editorial Board of ACS Synthetic Biology and is an Editor at mSystems.

  • Jimmy Gollihar

    I am a Scientist and Head of the Laboratory of Antibody Discovery & Accelerated Protein Therapeutics (ADAPT) at the Houston Methodist Research Institute (HMRI). My work encompasses a broad range of engineering biology, from the design of simple genetic “parts” and circuits to protein engineering and industrial biomanufacturing. I use a foundation in synthetic biology to domesticate non-model organisms and then use these tools and chasses to engineer proteins or biosynthetic pathways with therapeutic and industrial potential. I use a holistic approach to protein engineering by employing concepts in directed evolution, rational design, and artificial intelligence to create biological countermeasures, diagnostics, and vaccine candidates. Over the last few years, my group has been involved in the genomic surveillance and characterization of SARS-COV-2, B-cell repertoire mining for neutralization and protection assays, and the engineering of enzymes for use in mRNA vaccine manufacturing.

    I also spent the last four years as a DoD scientist. In that time, I designed and built the Army’s Biological Foundry co-located at the University of Texas at Austin. This work increased DoD capability in the field of synthetic biology for early-stage research efforts. From 2019 to 2021, I also served as the government CTO of the Bioindustrial Manufacturing Innovation Institute– BioMADE. As the technical architect of the institute, I led the creation of a public-private partnership to develop innovations at scale for biological production of non-medical products. Prior to that, I led an in-house R&D effort in the private sector.

  • Benjamin Woolston

    Dr. Woolston joined the NEU Chemical Engineering department as an Assistant Professor in January 2020. As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Dr. Woolston received his PhD in Chemical Engineering in 2017 from MIT under the guidance of Prof. Greg Stephanopoulos, where his research focused on the development of genetic tools to enable metabolic engineering in anaerobic CO2-fixing microbes, and the establishment of a methanol utilization pathway in the model organism Escherichia coli. While at MIT, he was an inaugural Fellow of the Chemical Engineering Communication Lab, where he provided peer tutoring and department-wide workshops to assist students and post-docs with aspects of scientific communication. His Post-doctoral work was conducted in the laboratory of Prof. Emily Balskus in the Chemistry & Chemical Biology department at Harvard University, where he studied microbial metabolic pathways and enzymes that contribute to the stability of health-associated Lactobacilli in the human vaginal microbiota. At Northeastern, his research program combines approaches from his previous research training in metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, biochemistry and microbiology to engineer microbes for biofuel & biochemical production, and as diagnostics and therapeutics in the Human gut microbiota. His lab team currently consists of five PhD students and five undergraduates. Since joining NEU, Dr. Woolston has taught the Biochemical Engineering senior elective (CHME 5630) and the graduate course in Kinetics & Reactor Design (CHME 7340). He was the winner of the 2020 IMES Jay Bailey Award young investigator award, as well as the 2021 Biotechnology & Bioengineering Daniel I.C. Wang award.

  • Devaki Bhaya

  • Keith Yamamoto

    Dr. Keith R. Yamamoto is vice chancellor for science policy and strategy, director of precision medicine, and professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology at UCSF. After earning his PhD from Princeton University, Yamamoto joined the UCSF faculty in 1976. His research has focused on signaling and transcriptional regulation by nuclear receptors; he uses mechanistic and systems approaches to pursue these problems in pure molecules, cells and whole organisms. He has led or served on numerous national committees focused on public and scientific policy, public understanding and support of biological research, science education, and diversity, equity, inclusion and anti-racism; he currently chairs the Coalition for the Life Sciences, co-chairs the NASEM Roundtable on Aligning Incentives for Open Science, and sits on the Board of Directors of the Public Library of Science, the Board of Directors of Rapid Science, the Governing Board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Board of Counselors for the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, and the Advisory Board for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He has chaired or served on many committees that oversee training and the biomedical workforce, research funding, and the process of peer review and the policies that govern it at NIH. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Microbiology, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

  • Nathan Crook

  • Jeff Nivala

    ​I’m Jeff Nivala, a Research Assistant Professor in the Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. I work closely with other faculty and students as part of the Molecular Information Systems Lab. My scientific interests are focused on technology development with molecular and synthetic biology. My post-doctoral work was performed in George Church’s lab at Harvard Medical School. I was a graduate student fellow of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) as a PhD student in the UCSC Nanopore Group with Mark Akeson, and a Washington Research Foundation Fellow in David Baker’s lab during my undergraduate work.

  • Gregory Koblentz

    Gregory D. Koblentz is an Associate Professor and Director of the Biodefense Graduate Program at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government. The Biodefense Graduate Program is a multidisciplinary research and education program designed to prepare students to work on issues at the nexus of health, science, and security. He also directs the Summer Workshop on Pandemics and Global Health Security at the Schar School and is the Editor-in-Chief of The Pandora Report. Dr. Koblentz is a member of the Scientist Working Group on Biological and Chemical Security at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, DC. He serves as a pro bono advisor for the Open Society Justice Initiative and DARPA, as a consultant for the Stimson Center on their cheminformatics program, and is a member of the Biothreat Advisory Board of Heat Biologics. Dr. Koblentz is the author of Strategic Stability in the Second Nuclear Age (Council on Foreign Relations, 2014) and Living Weapons: Biological Warfare and International Security (Cornell University Press, 2009) and co-author of Mapping Maximum Biological Containment Labs Globally (London: King’s College London, May 2021), Editing Biosecurity: Needs and Strategies for Governing Genome Editing (George Mason University and Stanford University, 2018), and Tracking Nuclear Proliferation: A Guide in Maps and Charts (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1998). His research and teaching focus on understanding the causes and consequences of the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons to state and non-state actors and the impact of emerging technologies on international security. He received a PhD in political science from MIT and a MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School.

  • David Riglar

    David has been a Wellcome Trust/Royal Society Sir Henry Dale Fellow in the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London since 2019. His lab uses a combination of synthetic biology, imaging and sequencing based approaches to better understand the function of the gut and its microbiota during health and disease. Using this knowledge they are developing innovative technologies, such as living engineered probiotics, to probe and control the mammalian gut environment.

    Prior to starting his lab, David undertook his postdoc in Pamela Silver’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. As a Human Frontier Science Long-term Fellow and NHMRC/ RG Menzies Fellow, David’s work focussed on using synthetic biology approaches to engineer bacteria as tools to probe the mammalian gut environment.

    In 2013, David completed his PhD with Jake Baum and Alan Cowman at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (University of Melbourne) in Melbourne, Australia. His PhD research investigated how the parasites responsible for human malaria disease infect red blood cells using cutting-edge imaging platforms.

    David holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from the University of Melbourne.

  • David Truong

    The Truong lab uses principles from synthetic and systems biology, cell fate reprogramming, epigenetics, and immunology. He and his team “rewrite” the human genome in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to build cell therapies and regenerative medicine. The group is developing an off-the-shelf chassis iPSC that can be given to any person without immune rejection. This chassis iPSC will enable large-scale restructuring of the human genome, introduction of large and more sophisticated genetic circuits for cell programming, and the production of any somatic cell for living therapies. The group currently focuses on developing programmable off-the-shelf Dendritic Cells from human iPSCs as an immunotherapy platform.

  • 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.

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