Roadmap WG

  • Andrew Hunt

    Andrew Hunt is a PhD student in the Jewett Lab at Northwestern University. His research centers on the use of Cell-Free Protein Synthesis to accelerate the pace of design and synthesis of new protein parts for synthetic biology. Andrew is a member of the EBRC Student and Postdoc Association Board and works as a liaison to the education working group.

  • 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).

  • Mark Mimee

    Mark Mimee is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. His interest in microbial life began in Montreal, Canada, where he completed his Bachelor of Science in Microbiology & Immunology at McGill University. Inspired by the nascent field of synthetic biology, Mark pursued studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, completing his PhD in Microbiology with Dr. Timothy Lu as an HHMI International Student Fellow and a Qualcomm Innovation Fellow. His research focuses on developing strategies to precisely engineer the activity and composition of the microbiota. His long-term vision is to implement these technologies to chart new basic and translational studies to exploit the microbiota for human health.

  • 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.

  • David Nielsen

    My research has been in the area of biotechnology for 18 years, the last 13 of which has been focussed on metabolic engineering as well as synthetic biology. We are interested in developing novel pathways and strains for the bioproduction of value added chemicals, as well as new tools for improving such efforts. Current projects are focussed on engineering new pathways for non-natural aromatic chemicals, application of rational engineering and adaptive laboratory evolution to improve strain tolerance, engineering cyanobacteria for the photosynthetic production of biofuels and biochemicals, development of tools for genetic engineering in cyanobacteria (e.g., new plasmids and promoter systems, CRIPSR-based gene editing tools, markerless recombineering methods, etc.), and the engineering of and investigation of synthetic microbial communities.

  • Robert Egbert

    Dr. Robert Egbert (Rob) is a staff scientist in the Biological Sciences Division at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Dr. Egbert is an expert in bacterial genetic circuit design and genome engineering. He received dual-BS degrees in electrical engineering and Korean at Brigham Young University, a PhD in electrical engineering from the University of Washington working with Eric Klavins, and a joint appointment as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory with Adam Arkin. He currently leads a DOE program in Secure Biosystems Design on novel genome remodeling approaches to control the persistence of engineered functions in the environment, is Integration Lead for a PNNL-led team for the DARPA Friend or Foe program, and is Co-PI for data-driven synthetic biology within the DARPA Synergistic Discovery and Design program. Dr. Egbert is also the Science Lead for an PNNL internal investment in synthetic biology and biosecurity. Outside of work, Rob loves adventures with his wife and three children: swimming, kayaking, and river rafting in lakes and rivers of the mountain West; backpacking in the Pacific Northwest, Utah red rocks, and Canadian Rocky Mountains; and pinball. Rob also enjoys playing competitive ultimate frisbee.

  • Ophelia Venturelli

    Dr. Ophelia Venturelli is an Assistant Professor in Biochemistry, Bacteriology and Chemical & Biological Engineering at UW-Madison. She began her appointment in July 2016 after completing a Life Sciences Research Foundation Fellowship at UC Berkeley in the laboratory of Dr. Adam P. Arkin. Dr. Venturelli’s postdoctoral research focused on microbial community dynamics and strategies to manipulate intracellular resource allocation. She received her PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics in 2013 from Caltech with Richard M. Murray, where she studied single-cell dynamics and the role of feedback loops in a metabolic gene regulatory network. The Venturelli lab focuses on understanding and engineering microbial communities using synthetic biology. Dr. Venturelli received the Shaw Scientist Award (2017), ARO Young Investigator Award (2017) and the NIH Outstanding Investigator Award (2017).

  • Kevin Solomon

    Dr. Kevin Solomon is an Assistant Professor of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. His work studies animal microbiomes to develop novel microbial platforms for sustainable biomanufacturing and depolymerization of polymeric waste substrates. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering from McMaster University (Canada) and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT. As part of his graduate work, Dr. Solomon developed new tools to increase biomanufacturing efficiency. His research and mentorship, at the intersection of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology, were recognized with multiple awards including a Lemelson Presidential Fellowship, an NSERC Julie Payette Award, and a Science Education Leadership Award from SynBERC. As a postdoctoral fellow at UC Santa Barbara, he applied the latest advances in sequencing technologies to study how anaerobic fungi degrade lignocellulose and identify new tools for synthetic biology. Using these techniques, he spearheaded efforts to molecularly characterize in depth a class of elusive microbes with tremendous potential for biofuel production, agriculture, and drug discovery. His work is supported by the NSF, DOE, private trusts and industry.

  • Jesse Zalatan

    Jesse Zalatan is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Washington. His research focuses on understanding the physical organizing principles of biological networks in systems such as cell signaling, metabolism, and gene regulation, using methods ranging from mechanistic enzymology to synthetic biology. Jesse did his graduate work with Dan Herschlag on the mechanisms of enzyme-catalyzed phosphoryl transfer reactions. He performed postdoctoral research with Wendell Lim, where he studied mechanisms for controlling specificity in cell signaling networks.

  • 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.

  • Srivatsan Raman

    My career path has taken me from process engineer in a petroleum refinery to a computational biologist, biochemist and now a synthetic biologist. A career in research was not what I had in mind after finishing a college, but a course in statistical mechanics changed the direction of my professional life. In the statistical mechanics course, I was awestruck that macroscopic properties of matter can be computed from molecular interactions using simple principles of probability and statistics. I decided switch fields from chemical engineering to studying biomolecules. As I started my Ph.D in biochemistry, I was inspired by the idea that the three-dimensional structure of a protein could be computed from its primary sequence. In Prof. David Baker’s laboratory (University of Washington, Seattle), I developed new computational methods to accurately predict three-dimensional structure of proteins rivaling experimental structures determined by X-ray or NMR. When I joined Prof. George Church’s group (Harvard Medical School) for postdoctoral training, my vision was to forge a new path to engineer proteins and biosynthetic pathways through the synergy of computational methods and high-throughput assays. Through biosensor-guided laboratory evolution, I engineered E. coli to overproduce a valuable natural product. Since biosensors are essential for engineering new cellular regulation, I developed a method to design new biosensors for cellular metabolites and valuable chemicals. As an independent investigator, my laboratory takes a systems and synthetic biology approach to understanding and designing biology at multiple scales: proteins, transcription regulation, metabolic pathways and whole organisms.

  • Fumiaki Hamazato

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

  • Sarah Glaven

    Dr. Sarah Glaven is a research biologist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) with over 12 years of experience in the field of microbial electrochemistry and electromicrobiology, processes in which microorganisms are used to catalyze electrode reactions and transport electrons over micron size distances. Dr. Glaven is recognized worldwide as an expert in the basic science of this field and for her recent work using meta-omics to understand electron transfer and carbon fixation of a marine cathode bacterial biofilm community. Dr. Glaven has published over 35 peer-reviewed articles in microbial electrochemistry, work that has been cited over 1400 times. She also holds a patent on the use of biocathodes for microbial reductive dechlorination in contaminated groundwater (#8,277,657, “Systems and methods for microbial reductive dechlorination of environmental contaminants”). More recently, Dr. Glaven has begun incorporating tools and practices of synthetic biology in her research to engineer extracellular electron transfer (EET). She also currently serves on the editorial board of ASM’s mSystems, the new journal Biofilms, and is the current President of the International Society for Microbial Electrochemistry and Technology (ISMET).

  • Mike Fero

    Michael Fero is a Co-Founder and CEO of TeselaGen Biotechnology Inc., a San Francisco based software company that has built Synthetic Evolution® – the AI driven operating system for synthetic biology. Michael received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California and contributed to the verification of the Standard Model at CERN and SLAC via the world’s most precise measurement of the Weinberg angle governing the coupling between the electromagnetic and weak interactions. Dr. Fero’s interest in biology led to a collaboration with Pat Brown and David Botstein at Stanford to build the world’s first human genome microarrays and do early research on expression level characterization of cancer cells. Dr. Fero then turned to systems biology where, in collaboration with Lucy Shapiro and Harley McAdams, he developed an automated high content diffraction limited microscopic screen of triply fluorescently tagged bacteria to better understand the bacterial cell cycle. Afterwards, Dr. Fero and two Stanford Shapiro/McAdams Lab colleagues started TeselaGen Biotechnology as a way to accelerate synthetic biology and the bio-based economy. Seeing a big deficiency in biologists’ ability to create what they imagine, TeselaGen focuses on making the mind to molecule process easier and faster with an AI driven, cloud-based enterprise platform for synthetic biology.

  • Emily Aurand

    Emily Aurand

    Emily Aurand is the Director of Roadmapping and Education at EBRC and serves as the executive editor of EBRC’s technical research roadmaps, available at https://roadmap.ebrc.org. Emily also serves as the EBRC Industry Internship Program director.

    Prior to coming to EBRC, Emily was an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation. At NSF her work in the Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental, and Transport Systems (CBET) included evaluation and assessment of the Synthetic Biology and Biomanufacturing portfolios, collaboration on the strategic reorganization of CBET programmatic concentrations, and development and implementation of novel funding initiatives, in addition to serving as a subject matter expert (a biologist amongst engineers). During her AAAS fellowship, Emily also served as a co-chair of the fellows’ Science Diplomacy Affinity Group, which explores how science and technology cooperation can be used as a tool for diplomacy.

    Dr. Aurand received a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences from Colorado State University and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Colorado. She continued her academic training in Trieste, Italy with a neuroengineering post-doctoral fellowship at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA). Her research experience spans the fields of developmental neurobiology, biomaterial development, and neural tissue engineering and biocompatibility.

    Emily is an United States Figure Skating Double Gold Medalist. In her free time, she likes to hike and practice yoga, dance in her kitchen while she cooks, and snuggle with her elderly cats. When she’s not traveling to convene with EBRC members and stakeholders, Emily lives and works in Fort Collins, Colorado.

  • Michael Smanski

    Michael Smanski is currently an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics in the Biotechnology Institute at the University of Minnesota. He received his BS in Biochemistry from the University of California, San Diego and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Wisconsin under the mentorship of Ben Shen. As an HHMI Postdoctoral Fellow of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, he worked with Christopher Voigt in the Department of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota in 2014. Throughout his career, Michael has studied and engineered multi-gene systems in bacteria. His group at UMN has developed a new platform for engineering ‘species-like’ barriers to sexual reproduction, and they are currently exploring applications for transgene biocontainment and the control of pest populations. Michael has been a member of EBRC since 2018 and has served on the EBRC Council from 2019-present.

  • David Savage

    David Savage

  • Howard Salis

    Prof. Howard Salis is an Associate Professor at Penn State University where his research lab focuses on the development & experimental validation of predictive biophysical models & design algorithms for rationally engineering synthetic organisms. Thousands of researchers have utilized these models & algorithms to design hundreds of thousands of synthetic DNA sequences for a wide variety of biotech applications. Prof. Salis received his Ph. D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. He received the DARPA Young Faculty and the NSF Career Award. He is also the founder of a spin-off company, De Novo DNA, that has developed a web-based design platform for engineering organisms.

  • Kristala Prather

    Kristala L. J. Prather is the Arthur D. Little Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT. She received an S.B. degree from MIT in 1994 and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley (1999), and worked 4 years in BioProcess Research and Development at the Merck Research Labs prior to joining the faculty of MIT. Her research interests are centered on the design and assembly of recombinant microorganisms for the production of small molecules. Prather is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions; she has co-authored more than 90 peer-reviewed publications and given more than 140 invited presentations.

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