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Speakers

Dr. Miguel Alcalde's research primarily focuses on the engineering of enzymes by directed evolution for a wide range of biotechnological purposes; the development of high-throughput biomolecular screening tools and genetic methods for library construction and exploration, as well as synthetic biology studies for environmental, energy and industrial applications. Dr. Alcalde obtained an M.Sc in Plant Physiology at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain in 1994, and completed his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Institute of Catalysis (Madrid) in 1999. From 2001-2003, Dr. Alcalde was a postdoctoral fellow with Frances Arnold at Caltech. In 2003 he returned to ICP-Madrid granted with an I3P-CSIC (2003) and a Ramón y Cajal contracts (2005). He was later appointed as a Staff Scientist of the CSIC in 2007 and promoted to CSIC Researcher in 2014. Dr. Alcalde is co-author of several patents and over 80-SCI papers. 

Dr. Andrew Buller is currently a NIH Postdoctoral Fellow with Frances Arnold. Andy grew up in Iowa City and completed degrees in Biochemistry and Mathematics at the University of Iowa before joining the Program in Molecular Biophysics at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He completed his PhD in 2013 under the supervision of Prof. Craig Townsend, where he studied the mechanisms of protein self-cleavage using kinetic and structural approaches and the structure-function relationship of protein acylation. He has launched a new project in the Arnold group to engineer a subunit of the PLP-dependent enzyme tryptophan synthase for the synthesis of non-canonical amino acids. Andrew is preparing to apply for an independent research position, where he looks forward to using protein engineering to study enzyme function and to direct the biosynthesis of non-natural products.

Dr. Lori Giver is Vice President, Biological Engineering at Calysta. She joined Calysta in 2013 and is responsible for R&D staff and project management. Prior to joining Calysta, Lori had leadership roles with Codexis, Inc. and Maxgyen, Inc. Dr. Giver has focused her career on the directed evolution of nucleic acids, proteins and organisms. She is an author on more than 10 scientific publications and over 50 patents and patent applications. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California-Berkeley and Ph.D in Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology from Indiana University, Bloomington. Dr. Giver did her post-doctoral research at the California Institute of Technology in the laboratory of Dr. Frances Arnold.

Dr. John McIntosh received his bachelor's degree in philosophy from Vassar College.  Shifting gears, he pursued graduate studies in natural products biosynthesis in the laboratory of Eric Schmidt where his work focused on the biosynthesis of a class of highly posttranslationally modified peptides from cyanobacteria known as cyanobactins.  After graduating, he joined Frances Arnold's group as a postdoc, where he worked on exploitng the non-natural reactivity of cytochrome P450 and other hemoproteins.  He is currently a Senior Scientist in Biocatalysis at Merck Research Laboratories in Rahway, New Jersey.  

Dr. Peter Meinhold is currently co-founder and CTO at Provivi, Inc. Peter received his Diploma in Biotechnology from the University of Applied Sciences Weihenstephan, Germany and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Caltech where he engineered enzymes for commercial applications under the supervision of Prof. Frances Arnold.  In 2005, he co-founded Gevo, a leading renewable fuels and chemicals company that produces isobutanol, a versatile platform chemical for the liquid fuels and petrochemical market. In 2013 he co-founded Provivi, Inc. to develop and commercialize transformative biotechnology for the production of fine chemicals including pharmaceuticals and pesticides. In 2010 he was recognized by MIT’s Technology Review magazine as one of the world’s top innovators under the age of 35. Peter holds 16 issued U.S. patents on engineered enzymes and microorganisms.

Dr. Florence Mingardon has worked for Total since 2011, where she now oversees the R&D biotechnology collaborations between the oil and gas company and the Joint BioEnergy Institute. She manages the scientific programs and guides the IP, contractual, and financial aspects of the collaboration. She completed her Ph. D. in Biotechnology at the University of Aix-Marseille (France) then joined Frances Arnold’s group at Caltech as a postdoctoral fellow. Her research mainly focused on biological production of fuels and chemicals from feedstocks. She studied plant cell wall degradation, cellulases and cellulosomes, and biocompound production by various microorganisms, as well as on tolerance mechanisms  of microbes toward chemicals.

Dr. Chris Voigt obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics at the California Institute of Technology. He continued his postdoctoral research in Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. His academic career commenced as an Assistant and Associate Professor at the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of California-San Francisco. Chris joined the Department of Biological Engineering at MIT as Associate Professor in 2011. The focus of his lab is to develop new experimental and theoretical methods to push the scale of genetic engineering, with the ultimate objective of genome design. This will impact the engineering of biology for a broad range of applications, including agriculture, materials, chemicals, and medicine.

Dr. Huimin Zhao is the Steven L. Miller Chair Professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and professor of chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, and bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).  He received his Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1998 under the guidance of Dr. Frances Arnold then became a project leader at Dow Chemical Company.  Dr. Zhao has authored and co-authored over 240 research articles and over 20 issued and pending patent applications.  His primary research interests are in the development and applications of synthetic biology tools to address society’s most daunting challenges in health, energy, and sustainability, and in the fundamental aspects of enzyme catalysis, cell metabolism, and gene regulation.