Steering Committee

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • Steve Evans

    Steven Evans

    Steven L. Evans spent 30 years bringing biotechnology products to the field in small and large companies. Steve’s research blended high-resolution chemical analysis with enzymology and recombinant protein expression to explore agricultural and environmental applications of biotechnology. In 1988 he joined Mycogen Corporation, now Corteva Agriscience, where he was involved in developing natural and recombinant biopesticides, including several crop traits from the Mycogen genome pipeline. He worked to commercialize biochemical actives from natural products, several transgenic crops, and plant genome editing technology. After retiring as a Fellow from Dow AgroSciences he founded Re-Knowvate LLC. His passion is to use this experience and repurpose it today in organizations which drive 21st century biotechnology so that they may learn from the actions of the early pioneers in applied biotechnology, thus accelerating their ability to develop and deploy new technologies to benefit our world. Steve has been active in public-private partnerships such as the National Science Foundation–sponsored SynBERC synthetic biology consortium, which is now the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC). He served as Chair of the SynBERC the Industrial Advisory Board, and is now active in various roles at the EBRC. Steve served on the National Academies of Sciences Future Products of Biotechnology study and is currently on the NAS Safeguarding the Bioeconomy study. He was co-chair of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s Industrial and Environmental Section synthetic biology subteam. He received his BA and BS degrees in chemistry and microbiology from the University of Mississippi and a PhD in microbial physiology from the University of Mississippi Medical School. He was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, and subsequently with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Peoria, Illinois.

  • Danielle Tullman-Ercek

  • Michael Jewett

    Michael Jewett is the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, a Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and co-director of the Center for Synthetic Biology at Northwestern University. Dr. Jewett’s lab seeks to re-conceptualize the way we engineer complex biological systems for compelling applications in medicine, materials, and energy by transforming biochemical engineering with synthetic biology.

  • 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.

  • Richard Johnson

    Richard Johnson

    Rick Johnson focuses on integrating policy and law with science, engineering, Big Data, and biomedicine to drive research and innovation and to enable problem-oriented solutions to global challenges. His current interests include: (1) synthetic biology, the engineering of biology, and the industrialization of biology; (2) the bioeconomy and next-generation production economy; (3) neuroscience and brain health, especially Alzheimer’s; and (4) policy issues for convergence, international S&T, and Big Data. Rick is the CEO and founder of Global Helix LLC, a thought leadership and innovative strategic positioning firm. After 30 years, Rick retired as Senior Partner at Arnold & Porter LLP in Washington, D.C., where he represented many of the leading research universities, foundations, and innovative multinational companies about enabling basic research, international collaborations, innovation strategies, and public-private partnerships through innovative approaches to law and policy. Johnson is a member of the Board on Life Sciences at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the NAS Synthetic Biology Leadership Forum, and serves as Chairman of the NAS Bioeconomy initiative. He is a member of several other NAS initiatives: biomedical innovation and precision medicine; convergence and next-generation infrastructures; synthetic biology and the industrialization of biology; the BRAIN initiative; and the intersection of science and security issues. He also serves as the Chairman of the BIAC Technology & Innovation Committee at the OECD, and he recently was named one of the 14 global members of the new OECD Global Advisory Council for Science, Technology, and Innovation. In addition, Rick is the Chairman of Brown’s Biology & Medicine Council and is a member of the boards for EBRC, the Stanford BioFab and BioBricks Foundation, and the iGEM Foundation for global education. For many years, Rick served on the MIT Corporation Committee, and numerous university-industry boards. In addition to receiving his Juris Doctor degree from the Yale Law School where he was Editor of the Yale Law Journal, he received his M.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was a National Science Foundation National Fellow and MIT distinguished young scholar, and his undergraduate degree with highest honors from Brown University.

  • Ute Galm

    Ute Galm is an Associate Director at Zymergen, a company that integrates automation, machine learning, and genomics to rapidly accelerate the pace of scientific advancement. After a decade in R&D and product development, she believes it is critical to wisely use what nature provides to us in the development of sustainable solutions to protect humanity and to preserve our planet. Prior to joining Zymergen, Ute worked as a scientist and group leader at Dow AgroSciences on the development of fermentation derived insecticide and fungicide products. She graduated from the University of Tuebingen, Germany with a PhD degree in Pharmaceutical Biology and received her postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Ute is passionate about all aspects of natural product discovery and development for human health and other market applications. When she is not collaborating with her colleagues to map out the next scientific breakthrough, she enjoys the outdoors and discovering the world with her family. Ute can be reached at [email protected].

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