Steering Committee

  • 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).

  • Rebecca Nugent

    Rebecca is an experienced R&D executive focused on commercializing research in the biotech industry enabling applications such as cell & gene therapies, synthetic biology and genomics. Dr. Nugent is currently the VP of HTP Operations at Tessera Therapeutics. Prior to Tessera, she led the research department at Synthego, developing novel technologies for genome engineering with a focus on human cell and gene therapies. Prior to Synthego, Rebecca spent six years at Twist Bioscience where she focused on the development of Synthetic Biology and Next-Generation Sequencing Target Enrichment (NGS TE) products. She did her Post-Doc at New England Biolabs and received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Southern California, where she studied yeast genetics with an emphasis on genomic stability.

  • Kate Adamala

    Kate Adamala is a biochemist building synthetic cells. Her research aims at understanding chemical principles of biology, using artificial cells to create new tools for bioengineering, drug development, and basic research. Kate’s research spans questions from the origin and earliest evolution of life, using synthetic biology to colonize space, to the future of biotechnology and medicine.

  • Douglas Friedman

    Douglas Friedman is CEO of BioMADE, the Bioindustrial Manufacturing Innovation Institute. In founding BioMADE, Doug seeks to secure the growth of the U.S. industrial biomanufacturing ecosystem and advance the bioeconomy. He is also President of the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC), a nonprofit membership organization focused on advancing precompetitive technologies in a safe, secure, sustainable, and ethical manor. At EBRC, Doug focuses on strategic initiatives, serves on the board and key leadership groups, and mentors science policy postdoctoral fellows. He was the inaugural Executive Director of EBRC from 2016 to 2021.

    His primary scientific and technical interests lie in the fields of synthetic biology, biomanufacturing, and modern biotechnology. Doug’s policy interests include development of sustainable biotechnology, safeguarding the bioeconomy, and accelerating technical advancement by building diverse, robust community partnerships. He regularly serves as a subject matter expert on emerging biotechnologies, biotechnology policy, and national security topics at the interface of the biological and chemical sciences. Doug participates in more than a dozen external scientific and policy committees and boards.

    Prior to his role at EBRC, Doug was a study director and senior program officer with the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. His primary portfolio focused on the advancement of science and engineering at the interface of chemistry and biology, often as they related to national security.

    Earlier in his career, Doug performed research in physical organic chemistry and chemical biology in academia and industry. He earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern University and a B.S. in Chemical Biology from the University of California, Berkeley.

  • Maitreya Dunham

    The Dunham lab uses synthetic biology, evolution, and genomics to understand how genome variation works in yeast and humans. In service of this goal, we also build tools, both physical devices for continuous culture and DNA gadgets for yeast genetics.

  • Mark Styczynski

    Mark received a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 2002 and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from MIT in 2007. He also did postdoctoral work at the Broad Institute from 2007-2009. At Georgia Tech, Mark’s work spans synthetic and systems biology, and often includes work at the intersection of those two fields. His main Engineering Biology focus is on the development of low-cost, low-resource diagnostics.

  • Joshua Leonard

  • Paul Freemont

    Paul Freemont

    Professor Paul Freemont is the co-founder of the Imperial College Centre for Synthetic Biology and Innovation (2009) and co-founder and co-director of the National UK Innovation and Knowledge Centre for Synthetic Biology (SynbiCITE; since 2013) and Director of the London BioFoundry (since 2016) at Imperial College London. He is also currently the Head of the Section of Structural Biology in the Department of Medicine at Imperial. His research interests span from understanding the molecular mechanisms of human diseases and infection to developing synthetic biology foundational tools for specific applications. His research group has pioneered the use of cell free extract systems for synthetic biology prototyping and biosensor applications and he is the author of over 220 scientific publications (H-index 72). He is an elected member of European Molecular Biology Organisation and Fellow of the UK’s Royal Society of Biology, Royal Society of Chemistry and Royal Society of Medicine. He was a co-author of the British Government’s UK Synthetic Biology Roadmap and was a recent member of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) on synthetic biology for the United Nations Convention for Biological Diversity (UN-CBD).

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