Will Sharpless has been an undergraduate researcher in the Arkin lab for 2 years. He works on the CUBES mission to design novel microbial communities for the rhizosphere of rice. Will is a math/bio double major at Cal and focuses on the dynamics and stability of biological systems, and the application of mathematics for nonlinear systems and networks to bioengineering. In the lab, Will works under the mentorship of postdoctoral researchers Kyle Sander and Fangchao Song.
Isaac Lipsky is a third year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley studying environmental science and public policy. In concert with Aaron Berliner, he is working on developing cost-benefit metrics for Mars surface operations. His interests include planetary science and the tantalizing prospect of Martian terraforming.
Fengzhe Shi is an undergraduate at Beijing Jiaotong University and now an exchange student at UC Berkeley studying computer science. He joined Mesbah Lab during this period and took part in the CUBES project. In CUBES, Fengzhe mainly works on modeling deep learning based surrogate models in dynamic systems. Previously, he worked in a computer science lab at Peking University on an information retrieval and recommender system.
Brooklyn Brace is a fourth year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley studying Molecular and Cell Biology. She has an interest in microbiology and genomics and how they apply to bioengineering. Brooklyn joined the Arkin Lab in 2019, and she is currently working on the CUBES project in the MMFD division investigating genes important for nitrogen fixation. Previously, Brooklyn worked in a synthetic biology lab at Columbia University working on the development of a multiplexed drug screening platform for small molecule inhibitors of viral proteases.
Avery is a fourth year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, currently working towards a double major in Economics and Molecular and Cell Biology with an emphasis in developmental genetics. She is interested in how the intersection of her two academic disciplines come together to further the research behind space exploration. In CUBES, Avery is working towards optimizing an elemental balance in a martian biomanufacturing system through the use of techno economic analysis. Outside of CUBES, Avery works at a biopharma consultancy and hopes to move into biotech in the future.
Anderson Lee is a third-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley studying Bioengineering with a focus on Synthetic and Computational Biology. He is currently optimizing the production of biopharmaceuticals to be utilized during space travel. In previous companies, he has developed an ELISA procedure to determine the concentration of a tumor-detecting drug in biological samples and enhanced a mobile, quick diagnostic machine that scans for viruses. Previous to the Arkin Lab, he worked in Mohammed Mofrad’s Cell and Biomechanics Laboratory at UC Berkeley where he used neural networks with backpropagation to predict a virus’ host based on the genome of the virus. In the future, he sees himself using synthetic biology to conquer problems inherent to the nature of space travel. He believes that technology already present in nature and perfected with evolution can be the key to send humans to other planets.
As of 2020, Shunsuke is at the Research Institute for Bioscience Products and Fine Chemicals, Kawasaki, Japan,
As of 2021, Skyler is a PhD Student at the University of British Columbia.
Jake received his Bachelor’s degree in Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was introduced to the world of scientific research through the study of the evolution of gene expression regulation in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Upon graduation, Jake began his graduate work in Marine Studies at the University of Delaware where he studied the regulation of energy metabolism in green sulfur bacteria (the Chlorobiaceae). Being a microbiologist that had always admired synthetic biology, and one that was enamored with space exploration, Jake joined the Arkin Lab at the University of California-Berkeley as a postdoc to pursue applications of microbial engineering to space exploration. Jake’s research interests include environmental microbiology, microbial physiology/systems biology, genetics, synthetic biology, and space bioengineering.
Kyle Sander earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and an M.S. degree in Biological and Ecological Engineering studying life cycle effects of algae production for fuels and co-products. He also investigated rapid sand filtration as an algal dewatering process step and enzymatic degradation of, and simultaneous saccharification and ethanol production from of algal cell biomass. Kyle earned his PhD from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville conducting his thesis research within the BioEnergy Science Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Kyle characterized regulatory genes and related cellular redox in two candidate lignocellulolytic, ethanol-producing biocatalysts; Clostridium thermocellum and Caldicellulosiruptor bescii. Basic redox metabolism was characterized yielding an expanded view of redox metabolism in these organisms and effected bioprocessing improvements through genetically modifying redox-related regulation. A genotype-phenotype relationship was similarly identified between the FapR local fatty acid biosynthesis repressor and tolerance to elevated osmolarity conditions, a highly complex, bioprocess-limiting, and difficult-to-engineer trait in C. bescii. As a member of the CUBES project, Kyle studies unbalanced growth coupling of polyhydroyalkanoate production in species of Cupriavidus, and rhizosphere microbiome interspecies interactions toward improving reliability of probiotic species ingress in diverse community settings.