Hira Panna Lesea is a Research Associate in the Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory working on isolating bacteria from groundwater and sediment from Oak Ridge National Laboratory that have been identified as important to the field site’s community function. She is measuring the growth phenotypes of ENIGMA isolates using a high throughput characterization pipeline under conditions relevant to the field site, such as low pH and high nitrate, in addition to providing high quality genomes of the characterized isolates. She is working with the Arkin lab on the ENIGMA project because of her interest in how microbes affect contaminated ecologies and her experience with studying the microbiome of the domestic cat at UC Davis. In addition to her passion for the unseen, she is also a chef and avid music lover.
Madeline graduated from UC Berkeley in 2020 with a degree in Molecular Environmental Biology. She began her research career as a field biologist where she quickly discovered her interest in microbial communities within soil. In 2016, she traveled to Antarctica as part of an NSF-funded expedition. In 2018, she worked for the US Geological Survey studying biological soil crusts in Moab, Utah, and she completed a research project examining benthic protozoa on the island of Mo’orea, French Polynesia. During the rest of her time as an undergraduate student she studied soil microbial ecology with the Firestone lab at UC Berkeley and completed an honors thesis focused on linking root exudate metabolites with fungal community composition in the rhizosphere. As a research associate in the Arkin lab, Madeline investigates mechanisms behind phage-host interactions as part of a COVID-19 related project. She plans to pursue a PhD in systems and quantitative biology.
Drew Hendrickson was a researcher with the Arkin Lab at LBNL. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2019 with his B.S. in Chemical Biology and Microbial Biology with a focus in environmental and ecological microbiology. Previously, Drew worked in bioremediation to elucidate the microbial transformations of hydrocarbon contaminants by using advanced mass spectrometry and sequencing techniques. He is interested in systems biology, data science, and “-omics” to understand our microbial world. Since joining the ENIGMA team, he employs improved sequencing techniques to study novel microbes from diverse environments. Outside of the lab, he enjoys dance, LGBTQ advocacy, and hiking across the California landscape.
Alejandro Ramirez was a Bioengineering Research Associate in the Arkin Laboratory at LBNL. He studied bioengineering, concentrating in synthetic biology and systems biology, and metabolic engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2019 he interned at Amyris, Inc. as a fermentation operations associate for tanks sized 250 mL to 2.0 L before starting full-time at Endless West as a production associate in the creation of beverages and food from component chemicals. As his passion was still in synthetic biology, Alejandro returned to work for the Arkin Lab in 2020 joining the ENIGMA project under the supervision of Vivek Mutalik. His interests in science are in sustainable engineering, biological interactions, and genetic tools used in directed-evolution.