Student & Postdoc Association

The EBRC Student & Postdoc Association (SPA) is an organization of graduate students and postdocs from around the world. The SPA facilitates communication between students and postdocs engaged with engineering biology throughout the United States and with EBRC Individual and Institutional Members.


Interested in joining SPA?

The benefits of SPA include being part of a community of engineering biology-focused scientists and engineers on an international scale. SPA members are the first to hear about new EBRC programs and activities and can participate in EBRC Annual Meetings. Travel support is available for those members playing active roles in in-person meetings (e.g. speakers, session chairs).

Apply for SPA Membership →

Benefits of SPA Membership

EBRC SPA members and affiliates are eligible for a series of benefits including:

  • EBRC Annual Meetings and SPA-hosted events at these conferences, including industry site visits, workshops, and social events
  • Virtual SPA events including panels and networking events with professionals in industry and government
  • Access to the SPA Slack workspace, a communication forum for engineering biology graduate students and postdocs from around the globe
  • EBRC LinkedIn group membership for networking opportunities with industry, academic, and government professionals
  • Application to the EBRC SPA Mentorship Program and EBRC Industry Internship Program
  • Opportunities to participate in EBRC roadmapping activities
  • Eligibility to serve on the SPA Board, the governing body of the SPA that coordinates SPA programming, interfaces with EBRC leadership, and contributes to work in EBRC’s focus areas

Membership Guidelines


A member of the EBRC SPA is any graduate student or postdoc doing work relevant to synthetic biology at a U.S. academic or non-profit institution who has gone through the membership application process and been approved by the SPA Board.

An international affiliate of the EBRC SPA is any graduate student or postdoc doing work relevant to synthetic biology outside of the U.S. at an academic or non-profit institution who has gone through the membership application process and been approved by the SPA Board. They retain all the same benefits of SPA membership except for travel expense benefits.


Any graduate student or postdoc doing work relevant to synthetic biology at a U.S. academic or non-profit, or any international student or postdoc at an academic or non-profit institution, is eligible to apply for membership.

Work relevant to synthetic biology includes laboratory work in synthetic biology, engineering biology, etc. as well as supporting fields such as microbiology, policy, applied mathematics, data science, communications, ethics, etc. where the given research may support the advancement of synthetic biology.

Undergraduate students, research technicians, and other academic or non-profit lab members are typically ineligible for EBRC SPA membership. However, under certain circumstances, these individuals may be eligible for membership at the discretion of the SPA Board. If you feel that you would benefit from SPA membership but are not sure whether you meet our eligibility criteria, please contact us at

Individuals that are not eligible for SPA membership may still be nominated by an EBRC PI to attend EBRC meetings with travel benefits. If nominated, they are eligible to attend EBRC SPA events at that meeting.

Goals and Application Process

The EBRC SPA seeks to enrich our community through the inclusion of individuals with diverse research backgrounds and a passion for synthetic biology. We encourage the advancement of synthetic biology through the inclusion of diverse perspectives from different fields of research, institutions, and researchers of diverse gender identities, racial and ethnic heritages, ages, and nationalities. To further these goals, membership applications should be freely available online, and include the following minimum criteria for the SPA Board to judge eligibility by:

  • Applicants will be asked to describe the relevance of their research to synthetic biology, and/or how their research could contribute new perspectives to the field.
  • Applicants will be asked to provide their institutional affiliation, supervisor’s name, and year of graduate study or postdoctoral fellowship
  • Optional diversity and demographic information
  • Contact information

New applications will be reviewed at regular intervals throughout the year by a designated committee of 3-5 SPA board members, who may accept applications for membership. For preliminary applicants that are not supported, the application must be brought to the entire SPA Board. If a quorum of three additional board members reject the applicant, they will be considered to be provisionally rejected. All provisional rejections will be sent to the EBRC Director along with justifications before final rejection of the applicant.

Duration of Membership

EBRC SPA Membership is valid as long as the individual member is still a graduate student and/or postdoc working on synthetic biology or supporting research. Once a student graduates (without continuing directly on to a relevant postdoctoral position) or a postdoc leaves their position, they become EBRC SPA Alumni. Members will be contacted yearly to update relevant information (student vs. postdoctoral status, supervisor, institution, etc.) or to inform the SPA Board that they are now alumni. If EBRC SPA records show that an individual member has not engaged in the EBRC community for over 2 years, they will be removed from membership and placed on the alumni list.

SPA Leadership

The EBRC SPA is run by an elected board under the leadership of an SPA president. The board is composed of 10-15 SPA members.

A new SPA board and president will be elected annually. Interested SPA members, including previous board members, may self-nominate for board positions. The position of president may only be held by previous SPA board members. General SPA membership votes for 10-15 board members and one president. Positions on the board (such as working group liaisons, social chairs, industry liaisons, etc.) are internally decided by the new board and are subject to change based on the needs of the EBRC SPA.

SPA Programs

  • Mentorship


    The EBRC Student and Postdoc Association established this program to link students and postdocs with EBRC industry and government partners in an effort to provide a fertile research network and promote best practices for responsible innovation. Through this program, graduate students and postdocs are provided with valuable career support and professional guidance, especially those interested in careers outside of academia.

    More →
  • EBRC Mentorship for Undergraduate and Masters Students (EMUMS) Program

    EMUMS provides undergraduates and masters students mentorship and networking opportunities with current engineering biology Ph. D. students and postdoctoral researchers.

    More →
  • BIoSecurity Opportunities Nexus

    BIoSecurity Opportunities Nexus (BISON) compiles student and postdoc-relevant biosecurity opportunities, including graduate and postdoc academic programs, scholarships, fellowships, and internships. BISON includes both international and domestic (US) opportunities.

    More →

SPA Board

The SPA is run by an elected board. The SPA board is responsible for the general leadership of the association, interfacing with EBRC leadership, organizing and hosting SPA events, and identifying individuals to contribute to the work in EBRC’s focus areas.

SPA News

  • August 31, 2020

    SPA update from the July 2020 EBRC newsletter

    In February, the SPA welcomed thirteen mentor-mentee pairs to the EBRC Mentorship Program, the largest cohort yet. The Mentorship Program creates one-on-one partnerships between graduate students and postdocs and professional EBRC members from industry, nonprofits, and government.

    During the virtual EBRC Annual Meeting in early April, the SPA hosted an entrepreneurship-focused panel about the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. The panel featured representatives from NSF, Fannin Innovation Studio, and Lynntech, Inc.

    On April 30, the SPA organized an informal virtual Industry Panel and Networking Session with representatives from EBRC member companies LanzaTech, Tierra Biosciences, BASF, and Twist Biosciences. The event included a panel discussion and networking with the panelists about their careers in the biotechnology industry.

    The SPA is working on growing it’s interactive members. We encourage graduate students and postdocs to apply for SPA membership here.

  • May 19, 2019

    EBRC Seeking Science Policy Postdocs

    UC Berkeley and the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC) are seeking postdoctoral scholars interested in science policy. Learn more and apply today.

  • March 4, 2019

    SPA Visit to Ginkgo Bioworks on March 22

    The SPA is hosting an Industry Site Visit to Ginkgo Bioworks on March 22 in association with the EBRC Retreat.

All SPA News →
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