SPA Board

  • Cameron Roots

  • Efrain Rodriguez-Ocasio

  • Ross Klauer

  • Aditya Sarnaik

    I have completed my PhD in 2019 from Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, India. I joined Arizona State University in 2019. I was also a member of EBRC from 2020. However, I could not actively participate in any of the events during CoViD and following which I had to go to India due to Visa Constraints. I am now affiliated to ASU once again and very much interested in actively contributing to research conferences, mentorship sessions.

  • Ava Karanjia

    Ava Karanjia is a current PhD student and NSF Graduate Research Fellow in Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington, where her research focuses on building transcriptional programs in bacteria. Ava is working on expanding CRISPRa technologies to improve methods of transcriptional signal conversion and transduction. She is also pursuing data science and astrobiology graduate certificates. Ava has undergraduate degrees in chemical engineering and microbiology from Arizona State University, where she worked on quorum sensing regulatory systems and other transcriptional activators. She has also worked at NASA Ames Research Center, where she screened and engineered non-traditional yeast candidates for in-situ microbial space technologies. Ava is a big proponent of science communication and has been actively involved in DEI outreach efforts at the University of Washington and EBRC.

  • Meagan Olsen

    Meagan is a PhD student in the Jewett Lab at Northwestern University. Her research focuses on improving cell-free protein synthesis systems in order to rapidly design and manufacture medical therapeutics. She completed her B.S. in chemical engineering at the University of Arkansas. Outside of the lab, Meagan enjoys cooking, reading, and hiking. 

  • Andrea Garza Elizondo

    Andrea is a PhD candidate in the Chappell Lab at Rice University. Her research focuses on optimizing gene editing systems to study the genetic regulation and secondary metabolism of the bacteria Streptomyces. Prior to this, she graduated from the University of Houston with a BSc in Honors Biomedical Sciences. Outside of research, Andrea enjoys drawing, sewing, and roller skating. She is also a Mentorship Program Liaison and a Social Co-Chair for the EBRC’s SPA.

  • Megan McSweeney

    I am a 4th year PhD Candidate at Georgia Tech working in Mark Styczynski’s lab. My research focuses on using cell-free synthetic biology to engineer low-cost point-of-care biosensors for disease diagnostic applications. After earning my PhD, I hope to gain more research experience as a post-doctoral fellow and eventually seek a faculty position at a research university.

  • Yan Zhang

    Yan is a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on engineering synthetic cells as the next-generation chassis to implement synthetic biology operations. Outside of research and EBRC, Yan is involved in the iGEM and science outreach efforts at Caltech to promote underrepresented groups’ engagement in synthetic biology.

  • Alexandra “Lex” Patterson

    Lex is currently a 3rd year bioengineering Ph.D. student at Georgia tech researching cell-free diagnostics. In the past, she has worked to establish large scale educational outreach events to encourage students to pursue careers in engineering. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis and pickleball.

  • Ross Jones

    Ross is a postdoctoral fellow in Peter Zandstra’s lab at the University of British Colombia, where he is using synthetic biology to program pluripotent stem cells to differentiate into immune cells. He completed his PhD in Biological Engineering under Ron Weiss and Domitilla Del Vecchio at MIT, where he developed genetic circuits that impart robust, context-independent control of gene expression in mammalian cells. Ross did his undergraduate in Bioengineering at the University of Washington, and remains an avid Husky fan to this day – go Dawgs!

  • 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.

  • Cholpisit Ice Kiattisewee

    Ice is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington working under the supervision of James Carothers and Jesse Zalatan. He works on developing a bacterial CRISPR tool for the genetic rewiring of various microbes mainly for application in Metabolic Engineering and Signaling. He is originally from Thailand where he graduated with B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Organic Chemistry before shifting into the Engineering Biology world. Whenever Seattle weather is permissive, Ice enjoys hiking and surfing apart from getting beaten up in Muay Thai training.

  • Arren Liu

    Arren Liu is currently a 4th year Ph.D. student in Arizona State University’s Biological Design Doctoral Program, in the School of Engineering of Matter, Transport, and Energy. He received his Bachelor of Sciences degree from Purdue University in Genetics with a minor in Biotechnology. Arren is co-advised by Dr. Arul Varman and Dr. David Nielsen, where he conducts systems and synthetic biology research. Arren’s research specifically focuses on the metabolic engineering of Escherichia coli and Corynebacterium glutamicum for the enhanced biosynthesis of natural products, such as polyphenols, from agricultural waste.


  • Kok Zhi Lee

    Kok Zhi is a postdoctoral fellow in Fuzhong Zhang’s lab at Washington University in St. Louis. He repurposes/engineers proteins in nature for biotechnology applications, tackling material synthesis and sustainability challenges. He completed his Ph.D. in Bioengineering under Kevin Solomon at Purdue University, where he characterized prokaryotic argonautes for novel gene-editing tool development without sequence-motif restrictions. Outside of research, Kok Zhi serves as a Social Chair in EBRC SPA, dedicated to creating diverse and inclusive environments for networking and career developments in the synthetic biology community.

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