Instructors – 2016


Chase Beisel


Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Chase Beisel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University. His research focuses on developing genetic tools to understand how the human gut microbiota contributes to human health and how to engineer bacterial members as the next generation of probiotics. Chase completed his PhD with Dr. Christina Smolke then at the California Institute of Technology, where he received graduate fellowships through the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense. He then was a Life Sciences Research Foundation postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Gisela Storz at the National Institutes of Health. As a faculty member, he was a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award. CSHL topic: Prof. Beisel will be teaching the use of CRISPR technologies in bacteria, with a focus on applying these tools for programmable gene repression and phenotypic screening.

Mary Dunlop


School of Engineering

Mary Dunlop is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering at the University of Vermont. Her research combines dynamic, single-cell experiments and computational modeling to study how microorganisms use feedback to respond to changes in their environment. She graduated from Princeton University in 2002 with a B.S.E. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and a minor in Computer Science. She received her Ph.D. in 2008 from the California Institute of Technology, where she studied dynamics and noise in gene regulation. She then conducted postdoctoral research on biofuel production at the Dept. of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. She is the recipient of a Department of Energy Early Career Award and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award.
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Ahmad (Mo) Khalil


Department of Biomedical Engineering

Ahmad (Mo) Khalil is the Innovation Career Development Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University, Founding Associate Director of the Biological Design Center, and a Visiting Scholar at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. His research is focused on understanding how cells use molecular networks to process information and make decisions. His lab employs multidisciplinary approaches, with emphasis on synthetic biology, to explore and engineer these cellular systems. He is recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, and has received numerous awards for achievements in life science innovation and for teaching excellence. Mo was an HHMI Postdoctoral Fellow with Dr. James Collins at Boston University. He completed his Ph.D. with Dr. Angela Belcher at MIT, where he was awarded a Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Graduate Fellowship. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Chemistry.
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Vincent Noireaux


Department of Physics and Nanotechnology

Vincent Noireaux is an Associate Professor of Synthetic Biology and Biological Physics at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Physics. His lab has developed a novel cell-free transcription-translation (TX-TL) system to construct and characterize biochemical systems in vitro such as gene circuits, protein self-assemblies and bottom-up minimal cells. He earned his PhD at the Curie Institute in Paris, and he was a postdoc at the Rockefeller University in New York. CSHL topic: Prof. Noireaux will be teaching a module on cell-free TX-TL system. In this module, participants will learn how to use an all E. coli cell-free TX-TL platform. This module includes: executing cell-free reactions to test circuit parts and to rapidly prototype gene circuits, using computer modeling to interpret experiments. In 2016 the TX-TL module will also include testing natural DNA programs for the cell-free biosynthesis of chemicals and infectious phages.

Michael Smanski


Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics
Biotechnology Institute

Mike Smanski is an Assistant Professor of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. His lab leverages new technology for DNA synthesis and assembly to interrogate and engineer the biosynthesis of structurally-diverse small molecules. Additionally, his lab is focused on developing new methods to rationally engineer diverse microbial species that have unique biological capabilities. Mike has been awarded the Dale F. Frey Award for Breakthrough Scientists in 2015 from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation. CSHL topic: In Prof. Smanski’s module at the CSHL Synthetic Biology summer course, students will compare several alternative DNA assembly techniques to explore the strengths and weaknesses of each. Students will learn how to design and execute reactions including Golden Gate Assembly, Isothermal Assembly, Scarless Stiching, and PCR-ligation and will leave with the experience necessary to become more efficient ‘gene jockeys’ in the future.
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Harris Wang


Department of Systems Biology

Harris Wang is as an Assistant Professor at Columbia University in the Department of Systems Biology. Dr. Wang received B.S. degrees in mathematics and physics from MIT and a Ph.D. in Biophysics from Harvard, where he pioneered platforms for rapid and combinatorial genome editing with Dr. George Church. Dr. Wang’s current research focuses on synthetic and systems biology. Using advanced approaches in genome engineering, gene synthesis, and next-generation sequencing, he studies how microbial populations form, maintain themselves, and change over time, both within and across microbial communities. Dr. Wang is the recipient of numerous awards including the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, NSF CAREER Award, Sloan Research Award, ONR Young Investigator and was named in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Science in 2012. His goal is to develop enabling systems and synthetic biology technologies to engineer microbial populations, such as those found in the human gut and elsewhere in the environment, in ways that could address key challenges in health, energy and the environment. CSHL topic: Prof. Wang will be teaching advanced genome editing and high-throughput phenotypic interrogation techniques using MAGE and next-gen sequencing.



Karmella Haynes


School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering

Karmella Haynes is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Arizona State University. She earned her Ph.D. studying epigenetics and chromatin in Drosophila at Washington University, St. Louis. Postdoctoral fellowships at Davidson College and Harvard Medical School introduced her to synthetic biology. Today, her research aims to identify how the intrinsic properties of chromatin, the DNA-protein structure that packages eukaryotic genes, can be used to control cell development in tissues. Her HHMI postdoctoral fellowship project on bacterial computers was featured on NPR’s Science Friday and was recognized as “Publication of the Year” in 2008 by the Journal of Biological Engineering. She is currently a SynBERC Affiliated PI, a SynBioLEAP fellow, an NIH young faculty award (K01) recipient, and Judge Emeritus for the International Genetically Engineered Machines competition. CSHL contributions: Prof. Haynes is a founding CSHL Synthetic Biology course instructor (2013), and also taught in 2014 and 2015.

Julius Lucks


School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Julius B. Lucks is Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University. His research combines both experiment and theory to ask fundamental questions about the design principles that govern how RNAs fold and function in living organisms, and how these principles can be used to engineer biomolecular systems. As a Miller Fellow, he pioneered the development of the first RNA-based synthetic genetic circuits, and was the leader of the team that created SHAPE-Seq – a technology that uses next generation sequencing to characterize RNA structures in unprecedented throughput, and that is now being used to uncover the role of RNA structure in regulating fundamental cellular processes across the genome. His lab focuses on dynamically programming cellular behavior with synthetic RNA circuitry, and using/developing SHAPE-Seq to understand RNA folding dynamics in the cell. For his pioneering research efforts, he has been named a DARPA Young Faculty Awardee, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow, an ONR Young Investigator, an NIH New Innovator, and has been named an NSF CAREER awardee. CSHL contributions: Prof. Lucks is a founding CSHL Synthetic Biology course instructor (2013), and also taught in 2014 and 2015.