Member Directory

  • 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.

  • Xiaojun Tian

    Dr. Xiaojun Tian is an Assistant Professor in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering at Arizona State University.

  • 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

  • Sifang Chen

    Sifang is interested in applications of engineering biology toward sustainability and has just recently made the transition from the lab to science policy. Prior to joining EBRC, she worked on DNA computing and DNA data storage as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington. Previously, she was an intern and visiting researcher at Microsoft Research, where she built chemical-based wearables and low-cost pollution sensors. Sifang received her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Washington in 2019 researching DNA-based programmable materials. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to learn about science policy and work with a wide-ranging group of experts and stakeholders. She will be primarily working in the Roadmapping focus area and looking at how biotechnology could contribute to creating equitable climate solutions.

  • India Hook-Barnard

    India Hook-Barnard is Executive Director of the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC). Her primary interests are in the areas of synthetic biology, precision medicine, responsible innovation, and biosecurity. India enjoys building multidisciplinary collaborations and developing a vision and strategy to address complex challenges. She works with experts and leaders from across academia, industry, and government sectors to identify and shape scientific opportunities, technical feasibility, and policy issues. Her goal is to advance and accelerate engineering biology solutions across all application areas, drive innovation, and grow the bioeconomy for all. 

    Prior to joining EBRC, India was Senior Advisor to the Beyond 2020: A Vision and Pathway for NIH Working Group, and Senior Vice President for Patient Outcomes and Experience at the National Marrow Donor Program. She was the Director of Research Strategy and Associate Director, Precision Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco; she helped launch and was the Executive Director for the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine. Earlier in her career, India worked at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), focusing on areas of emerging science and technology, including policy issues of data governance, regulation, bioethics, biodefense, and workforce development. At NASEM, she directed standing committees, workshops, and six consensus reports, including Toward Precision Medicine: Building a Knowledge Network for Biomedical Research and a New Taxonomy of Disease (2011).

    As a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Institutes of Health, India studied the regulation of gene expression in bacteria and phage. She earned her PhD in Microbiology-Medicine from the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Missouri.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Ithai Rabinowitch

    Ithai started his academic path studying Industrial Engineering at Tel Aviv University, acquiring quantitative approaches to the analysis and design of complex systems. He then steered to neuroscience, embarking on a Ph.D. at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, investigating theoretically how the morphology and structure of neurons determine the dynamic interactions between synaptic inputs. Ithai then continued with postdoctoral training in Cambridge, UK and in Seattle, USA, this time doing experimental work on neural circuits in the tiny nematode worm C. elegans. Bringing together his passion for neurobiology and engineering, Ithai contributed to establishing a neuro-synthetic biology. Ithai joined the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine in late 2017 where his lab is continuously studying and designing C. elegans neural circuits.

  • Mikael Elias

    Mikael Elias received a B.S. (2004) and a M.S. (2006) degree from the Universite de Lorraine (France) and a Ph.D. degree (2009) from the Universite Aix–Marseille (France). Mikael joined the Weizmann Institute of Science (Rehovot, Israel) as a FEBS postdoctoral fellow (2009) and later (2011) as a Marie Curie Fellow. In 2014, Mikael joined the University of Minnesota (USA) and is now associate professor in the Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics Dpt, as well as the BioTechnology Institute . The Elias lab research lies at the interfaces of biology, chemistry and microbiology. It focuses on the atomic-level understanding of the molecular determinants underlining molecular recognition, engineering enzymes and using molecular tools to control microbial behaviors.

  • Seongkyu Yoon

    Seongkyu Yoon is Professor in the Francis College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts (UMass), Lowell. Currently Dr. Yoon is working as a co-director of Massachusetts Biomanufacturing Center, is the UMass site director of the National Science Foundation Industry–University Cooperative Research Centers Program Research Center (NSF-IUCRC), the Advanced Mammalian Biomanufacturing Innovation Center (AMBIC), and the UMass lead for ManufacturingUSA in Biomanufacturing (NIIMBL). His research interests include process system engineering, synthetic and systems biotechnology, regulatory sciences, and biomanufacturing innovation. He is leading a systems and synthetic biology research group while conducting research in systems and synthetic biotechnology, life science informatics, and regulatory sciences with goals to develop an innovative biomanufacturing platform of protein-cell-gene biotherapeutics. Dr. Yoon received his PhD in chemical engineering from McMaster University, Canada, and his MBA from Babson College.

  • 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.

  • George Lu

    George Lu obtained his undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta in Canada, before moving to the UC San Diego for his Ph.D. study on protein structural biology. He then became a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Mikhail Shapiro at Caltech, where he focused on the engineering of gas-filled protein nanostructures for biological imaging and cellular control. Dr. Lu was previously awarded the Young Investigator of the Year from the World Molecular Imaging Society for his work on the development of acoustically erasable MRI reporter genes. The independent lab was newly established in the Bioengineering Department at Rice University in 2020 with the support of the NIH Pathway-to-independence (K99/R00) and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Scholar awards.

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