Institutional Members

  • Wendy Hall

    20 years senior government expert advisor in science policy and national security specializing in biological threats and life science research policy, both pre- and post- anthrax attacks
    14 years international experience in private sector multinational corporations and academia
    Interest in ways to streamline, simplify and modernizing current “jenga tower” of USG policies/regulations/rules/polices to enable robust growth in the U.S. bioeconomy while ensuring national security risks are addressed as appropriate.

  • Bryn Adams

    Bryn L. Adams received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Biology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2009 which focused on the development of microbial based methane-oxidizing biomaterials to mitigate early methane emissions from open landfills. After receiving her doctorate, she joined a collaborative research project, as a National Academy of Sciences postdoctoral fellow, between Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) and the Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology Research at the University of Maryland at College Park focused on the development of non-specific threat agent detection using simple biological sensing and signal transduction pathways. Dr. Adams first joined the US Army Research Laboratory in 2011 as an Oak Ridge Associated Universities postdoctoral fellow where she conducted research into the development of synthetic molecular recognition agents for biosensing and biomaterials and then became a federal scientist at the US Army Research Laboratory in 2014 and the team leader of the Synbio Tools and Chassis Team in 2018. Her research efforts currently focus on developing synthetic biology tools for non-model host bacteria and leveraging synthetic biology to wholly integrate microbes into biohybrid systems. She has published over 15 peer-reviewed manuscripts on a wide range of bacterial biotechnology topics across several disciplines.

  • Alexander Tobias

    I am a Biotechnology technical professional experienced with leading teams and prosecuting academic, industrial, and government research in the lab. My proudest accomplishments have been (1) the enzyme engineering work I performed on the DuPont/BP Butamax joint venture to develop an isobutanol-producing yeast, (2) the successful push to commercialize 24 ELISA assays as part of the V-PLEX team at Meso Scale Diagnostics, and (3) earning my doctorate as part of the laboratory of Frances Arnold (2018 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry) at Caltech.

    DuPont Biotechnology R&D – 2005-2016
    Meso Scale Diagnostics Assay Development – 2016-2017
    US Army Research Laboratory – 2017-present

  • Eric Lin

  • Sarah Carter

    Dr. Carter is the Principal at Science Policy Consulting LLC where she focuses on societal and policy implications of emerging biotechnologies, including issues of responsible innovation, biosafety, and biosecurity. She is currently focused on the advanced biotechnologies industry, synthetic biology and DNA sequence screening, and international norms for biosecurity. In recent years, she has worked with several U.S. government agencies as well as industry, academia, and non-profit institutions. Previously, she worked in the Policy Center of the J. Craig Venter Institute and at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). She is a former AAAS S&T Policy Fellow and a former Mirzayan S&T Fellow of the National Academies. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Francisco and her bachelor’s degree from Duke University.

  • Sharon Steele

    Sharon joined Zymergen in March 2021. She currently works remotely from Virginia. Sharon has worked as a Government Engagement/Contracting senior legal advisor for over 15 years, with various large government contractors. During the last several years Sharon has maintained a legal practice servicing large and small government contractors. Sharon enjoys yoga, bike riding and spending time with her family which includes two kitties.

  • Tiffany Tsang

  • Ryan Tappel

    Bachelor’s (John Carroll University) and Ph.D. (SUNY-Environmental Science & Forestry) in Biochemistry. Worked at LanzaTech as part of the Synthetic Biology team since 2014. Focus on enzymology-related research as well as regulatory efforts.

  • John Dileo

    John Dileo manages the Biotechnology and Life Sciences Department at the MITRE Corporation in McLean, Virginia. He holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics & Biochemistry from the University of Pittsburgh and has specialized in experimental and theoretical research in molecular, systems, and synthetic biology, while also providing support and oversight to numerous large Government research and development programs in those fields of study. At MITRE, his department has groups that focus on biosafety, security and quality; countering weapons of mass destruction; medical countermeasures development; and human performance optimization.

  • Elizabeth Vitalis

    Beth Vitalis joined Inscripta in 2019 to help stand-up Biosecurity for the company’s digital genome engineering platform. She and the company are committed to safe, responsible use of its technology and have prioritized a proactive strategy to identify and help prevent biorisk scenarios. Beth interacts with groups across the company to implement a multi-faceted biosecurity system and continually adapt it to an expanding range of genome engineering endeavors. She is enthusiastic to collaborate with the greater engineering biology community to ensure security of our advancing technologies. After obtaining her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences at UC San Francisco, Beth joined Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California where she led or contributed to various government supported biorisk detection and characterization efforts. Her projects included standardized pathogen assays, microbe evolution, functional predictions, and synthetic biology risk assessment. She also has enjoyed graduate and undergrad biology teaching roles and participating in community science education events.

  • Elizabeth Bayha

    Betsy Bayha is on Zymergen’s Learning and Development team, managing programs aimed at developing leadership skills for employees.

    She graduated from San Francisco State University in May 2020 with a Master of Science degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, returning to school after a ten-year career as a documentary film producer for Lucasfilm and PBS.

    Betsy also worked at the UCSF School of Medicine on the Bridges curriculum transformation initiative for first-and second-year Med-school students. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

  • Marilene Pavan

    Currently working as Scientist at LanzaTech Inc., I am a professional with 12+ years of experience in the fields of synthetic biology, metabolic engineering and biomanufacturing. Expertise also include: partnerships (prospection and management), people management and mentorship, fundraising, business development, writing of grants, patents, and scientific articles, project management, budget management, scientific consulting, planning of scientific conferences, speaker.

  • 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).

  • Jens Plassmeier

    Jens is currently Sr. Team Leader for Biobased Chemicals at BASF Corp. with expert knowledge in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology. Before joining BASF, Jens was holding the position of Director of Innovations at Conagen Inc, where he was responsible for strain engineering and fermentation engineering, along with innovation management. During his professional career, Jens and his teams were able to successfully engineer and scale-up multiple microbial strains to produce various molecule classes. Prior, Jens was first Postdoc and then Research Scientist at MIT, where he was also working on strain and process engineering, mainly for biofuel production. Jens got his PhD from Bielefeld University in Germany. Jens was consultant to biotech companies and panel reviewer for the DOE. He is active editorial board member for multiple journals in the biotechnology/synthetic biology space.

  • 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.

  • Leonard Brizuela

    Dr. Brizuela conducted his graduate research at CSHL and postdoctoral work at Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Labs. He later took a scientist position at the EMBL and subsequently moved to Mitotix Inc. to work on cancer drug discovery. There he rose through the ranks of the organization, from senior scientist to head of the kinase inhibitor program and Director of Biochemistry across all drug discovery programs. He then moved to Harvard Medical School where he was Associate Director of the Harvard Institute of Proteomics as well as Director of the Proteomics Center for the Biodefense program at Harvard (NERCE) and faculty member of BCMP.
    He joint Agilent Technologies, where he acted as Director of Science and Technology for the Genomics and Life Sciences groups and currently works under the CTO office as Associate Diretor of University Relations and External Research. Dr. Brizuela has produced influential work and numerous publications in the areas of cell cycle regulation, cancer biology, drug discovery and genomics. He is experienced with technology development/innovation. He has proven ability to build and execute scientific, technology development and product development activities, as well as to build collaborations and outsourcing within and across organizations.

  • Mark Rogers

    Currently engaged in helping GenoFAB to bring 5S Lean principals into the synthetic biology lab. Recent work includes data analysis on factorial experimental designs for assessing the impact of different gene architectures on yeast colony growth. Previously my research focused on applying machine learning to problems in bioinformatics, with an emphasis on data integration. Specific research areas included methods for predicting mRNA alternative splicing patterns from RNA-Seq, gene models and ESTs (SpliceGrapher), as well as data-level (single kernel), kernel-level (MKL) and model-level (ensemble) approaches to integrating features for prediction of pathogenic germline or somatic single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) (FATHMM-MKL, FATHMM-XF, CScape and ongoing work).

  • Jason Zwolak

    My professional training started at Virginia Tech during my masters and PhD under the guidance of my co-advisors: John Tyson of the Biology Department and Layne Watson of the Computer Science department. This was a unique beginning to have co-advisors and I believe it gave me a unique understanding of interdisciplinary work.

    As a professional I have since continued a unique path where I balance work, life, and continuing education. I never stop learning the latest tools, the latest paradigms, the latest techniques, and the latest patterns for designing and creating the best software we, as human beings, know how to create. This is my professional passion.

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