Institutional Members

  • 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.

  • Jared DeCoste

    Dr. DeCoste is a Research Chemist at CCDC Chemical and Biological Center (formerly the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC)) leading the Biological Engineering for Applied Materials Solutions (BEAMS) program. His last 9 years of experience at ECBC have been in the Chem/Bio Protection Division mainly focusing on novel materials development for the remediation of chemical threats. His work has led to more than 50 manuscripts, 50 oral presentations, and 5 patents, on his research. His work has been highlighted by periodicals/news outlets including Chemical and Engineering News, Materials Today, Fox News, Science Daily, CBRNE World, and Nature. Dr. DeCoste has been recognized by his superiors and peers through numerous awards including the ACS Maryland Chemist of the Year Award, Achievement Medal for Civilian Service, ECBC’s Rookie of the Year for Outstanding Early Career Achievement, ECBC’s Safety Award, ECBC’s STEM Volunteer Award, Leidos’s Publication Prize for Physical sciences, and the 2018 Md ACS Chemist of the Year Award. His work in the BEAMS program has been a highlight of his career thus far as it has allowed him to collaborate and innovate in ways that only working in a highly interdisciplinary field allows. His work has always revolved around finding unique ways to progress science through working together, as evidenced in the pride he takes in aiding others through mentorship, encouraging collaboration, and developing opportunities to learn and evolve in the ever changing scientific landscape.

  • Zachary Sun

    Zachary Sun is the CEO and co-Founder of Tierra Biosciences, a startup leveraging cell-free synthetic biology, automation, computer learning, and metagenomics to identify new molecules and new chemistry from Nature’s genetic datasets.

  • Rebecca Nugent

    Dr. Rebecca Nugent joined Twist Bioscience after spending many years in the biofuels and green chemicals industry. Dr. Nugent leads R&D teams at Twist Bioscience focused on the development of Synthetic Biology and Next-Generation Sequencing Target Enrichment (NGS TE) products. Dr. Rebecca Nugent received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Southern California, where she studied yeast genetics with an emphasis on genomic stability in Dr. Susan Forsburg’s lab. During her postdoctoral fellowship she developed life science tools through characterizing and engineering novel Restriction Enzymes at New England Biolabs.

  • Jean Peccoud

    Dr. Peccoud’s research program focuses on synthetic biology informatics. His group combines computational and experimental efforts to develop predictive models of behaviors encoded in synthetic DNA sequences. He is particularly interested in using methods from synthetic biology to optimize biomanufacturing processes used to produce biologic drugs, antibodies, and other proteins of commercial interest. Peccoud is also actively engaged in efforts to understand the security implications of synthetic biology.

    Shortly after completing a graduate research project in molecular immunology, Jean Peccoud’s scientific interests shifted to computational biology. In 1989, he published one of the first articles describing a mathematical model of molecular noise in gene regulatory networks. In 1993, he recognized the importance of real-time PCR and developed new statistical techniques suitable to analyze this new type of data. In 2002, he observed with excitement the very early developments of synthetic biology. After exploring the potential applications of this new technology to plant biotechnology, he blazed a trail in synthetic biology informatics.

    Jean Peccoud came to Colorado State University from the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech. He brought with him a diverse experience that includes working for Fortune 500 and start-up companies. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Synthetic Biology published by Oxford University Press.

  • Fumiaki Hamazato

    Senior Engineer, Technology Development Center, Innvation Division, Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation
    Professional Engineer, Japan (Biotechnology)

  • Visu Annaluru

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