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Synberc Affiliated Investigators

The Affiliated Investigators Program helps Synberc expand and diversify our community by providing support mechanisms that encourage collaboration and networking with early-career researchers from beyond our core labs. More details below.

See also our Synberc Investigators page.

James Carothers
University of Washington, Seattle
Department of Chemical Engineering
Combining computational modeling, in vitro selection and genetic engineering to construct RNA-based systems that can process cellular information and program the expression levels of large numbers of genes

Michelle Chang
University of California, Berkeley

Department of Chemistry
Utilizing the approaches of mechanistic biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, metabolic engineering, and synthetic biology to address problems in energy and human health.

Douglas Densmore
Boston University

Department of Bioinformatics
Computer-assisted design of biological systems


John Dueber
University of California, Berkeley

Department of Bioengineering
Designable, modular control over living cells, especially biofuel applications, engineered metabolic pathway efficiency and signaling flux.

Paula T. Hammond
Massachussetts Institute of Technology
Biological and Health Systems Engineering
Macromolecular design and synthesis, targeted drug delivery for cancer, nanoscale assembly of synthetic biomaterials, electrostatic and directed materials assembly.

Karmella Haynes
Arizona State University

Biological and Health Systems Engineering
Explores the use of protein engineering to create new epigenetic machinery that regulates DNA at will.

Nathan Hillson
Joint BioEnergy Institute
Fuels Synthesis Division
As Director of Synthetic Biology, Nathan develops and demonstrates experimental wetware, software, and laboratory automation devices that facilitate, accelerate, and standardize the engineering of microbes.

Farren Isaacs
Yale University

Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Work focuses on integrating engineering and evolution through the construction of genes, gene networks and whole genomes alongside quantitative models to gain a better understanding of whole biological systems.

Terry JohnsonTerry Johnson
UC Berkeley

Department of Bioengineering
Teaching in bioengineering and chemical engineering, writing, public speaking, biotechnology

Sri KosuriSri Kosuri

Department of Chemical Engineering
Next-generation DNA synthesis technologies for use in bioengineering; multiplexed and automated genome engineering.

Chang Liu
UC Irvine

Department of Biomedical Engineering
Synthetic biology approaches for directed evolution wherein the parameters of evolution can be precisely manipulated.

Julius Lucks
Cornell University

Department of Chemical Engineering
Bottom-up design and construction of sophisticated genetic systems with predictable function; RNA-based regulators of gene expression.

Tae Seok Moon
Washington University in St. Louis

Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering
Creating programmable cells that process multiple input signals and produce desirable outputs for real-world applications

Gautam MukundaGautam Mukunda
Harvard Business School

Organizational Behavior Unit
The political, economic, and social implications of technological change, focusing particularly on the implications of synthetic biology

Megan PalmerMegan Palmer
UC Berkeley / Stanford University
Center for International Security and Cooperation
Biotechnology policy and practices, responsible innovation, innovation and security policy


Pamela Peralta-YahyaPamela Peralta-Yahya
Georgia Tech

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
Using an interdisciplinary approach rooted in concepts and techniques from chemistry, biology and engineering, push the synthetic capabilities of biological systems for the production of chemicals

Howard Salis
Penn State University

Department of Biological and Chemical Engineering, Synthetic Biology
Biophysical models and methods to rationally predict and control the behavior of biological organisms; Synthetic genetic systems with applications in synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, and biologic therapeutics

David Savage
University of California, Berkeley

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology
Novel therapies, environmentally friendly chemistry. Investigating unique organisms, understanding metabolism and how it can be engineered to do useful things, and developing new tools for metabolic research.

Jeff Tabor
Rice University

Department of Bioengineering
Programmed synthetic gene networks; Complex network interactions and behaviors such as pattern formation and population interactions

Danielle Tullman-Ercek
University of California, Berkeley

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Engineering naturally occurring biological parts, systems and organisms to yield improved and novel functions for industrial and pharmaceutical applications

Harris Wang
Columbia University

Pathology & Cell Biology
Utilizes genome engineering, DNA synthesis, and next-generation sequencing methods to better understand genome evolution and population dynamics of a variety of model organisms and microbial communities under different environments. Also develops synthetic approaches in ecological engineering to manipulate disease-relevant microbial ecosystems such as those found on the human body and in the human gut towards ultimately improving human health.

Fuzhong Zhang
Washington University in St. Louis

Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering
Engineering microbes for the production of advanced biofuels from sustainable resources, such as cellulosic biomass or solar energy, through a “green” process that avoids the use of high temperature, pressure and toxic organic solvents


What is a Synberc Affiliated Investigator?
Through our Affiliated Investigator Program, Synberc seeks to expand and diversify the Synberc community by providing support mechanisms that encourage collaboration and networking with early-career researchers from beyond our core labs. The program was originally conceived as means to help early-career researchers graduating from Synberc labs to remain a part of the research community. We have since expanded the program to enable the participation of a broader range of researchers and educators. Affiliated Investigators (AIs) and their students fully participate in our semi-annual scientific retreats by presenting talks/posters and interacting with the Synberc community, including industry and strategic advisers. Affiliated PIs are encouraged to participate in new initiatives and may be invited to submit funding proposals to Synberc on occasion. This program aims to help the entire Synberc community define and achieve its collective aims, with the hope of advancing synthetic biology for the greatest public benefit. 


  • A Synberc PI nominates a former student or postdoc, or a researcher or educator whose work is vital to Synberc’s strategic goals. The nominee must have an academic appointment at a college, university, or research institution.
  • Synberc PIs vote to approve the nominee.
  • Once approved, the Affiliated Investigator may need to sign a mutual non-disclosure agreement with UC Berkeley, the headquarters of Synberc. Affiliated Investigators will be listed on the Synberc website and official Synberc documents.
  • Affiliated Investigators and their students are expected to actively participate in Synberc's semi-annual retreats. Relevant projects in the Affiliated Investigator’s laboratory should be included in the Synberc associated projects database.
  • Affiliated Investigators will not receive research support from Synberc, but Affiliated Investigators may be invited to submit proposals to Synberc on occasion. Affiliated Investigators will be invited and encouraged to collaborate on new proposals and initiatives as appropriate.
  • Synberc will provide a limited number of Travel Fellowships for student travel to the retreats and other meetings, subject to funds availability.
  • Affiliated Investigators are expected to take part in all public research discussions and decisions but will not participate in Synberc managerial discussions.
  • The appointment will be on a yearly basis with renewal subject to Synberc management approval. Synberc or the Affiliated Investigator can discontinue the relationship if it is not fruitful or for any other reason at any time.

If you are interested in becoming a Synberc Affiliated Investigator, talk to a Synberc Principal Investigator.