Instructors – 2018

James Chappell


BioSciences Department
Profile: James Chappell (pdf)

James Chappell is an Assistant Professor of Biosciences at Rice University. His research focuses on forwarding our ability to understand and engineer the bacteria domain of life. Specifically, he is interested in understanding how the biomolecule RNA can be designed to create synthetic regulators of gene expression—allowing for the manipulation of natural cellular processes to elicit deeper biological understanding and for the engineering of new synthetic cellular functions. He received his Ph.D. from Imperial College London, where he studied the application of cell-free gene expression systems for synthetic biology. He then conducted postdoctoral research at Cornell and Northwestern University, where he focused on RNA synthetic biology. Amongst his research accomplishments are creating the first synthetic RNAs able to activate transcription in bacteria (a mode of regulation that is not found in nature), developing computational design approaches for RNA regulators and creation of novel of RNA-based genetic circuitry to implement sophisticated gene control.. Past CSHL Contributions: Prof. Chappell was a CSHL Synthetic Biology course TA in 2013, 2014, and 2015. CSHL topic: Prof. Chappell will teach a module on expression of custom-built genetic circuits in cell-free transcription/translation systems (TX-TL) and the design of RNA-driven genetic pathways.


John Dueber


Department of Bioengineering

John Dueber is an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at University of California, Berkeley. His lab develops strategies for improving programmable control over cells, particularly for the production of chemicals. Towards these efforts, the lab studies and uses techniques in molecular biology, protein engineering, and cell biology. This work has been recognized by NSF CAREER, DOE Early Career, and Bakar Fellowship awards. Past CSHL Contributions: Prof. Dueber was a CSHL Synthetic Biology course instructor in 2015. CSHL topic: Prof. Dueber will be teaching a cutting-edge modular cloning (MoClo) Golden Gate strategy for rapidly synthesizing multi-gene devices. Here, we will be assembling devices for expression in E. coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but a similar approach could be used for expression in other host organisms of interest.

Elisa Franco


Department of Mechanical Engineering

Elisa Franco is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Riverside. Her research group works in the area of in vitro synthetic biology, with an interdisciplinary approach of experiments and mathematical modeling. Areas of interest include biomolecular oscillators, feedback systems, and responsive self-assembled materials. Elisa received her Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology under the supervision of Dr. Richard Murray. As a faculty member, she received a UC Regents fellowship, a Hellman fellowship, and an NSF CAREER award. CSHL topic: Prof. Franco will be teaching a module on formulation and validation of mathematical models for molecular circuits, primarily via ordinary differential equations. These techniques are particularly well suited to quantitatively describe gene circuits tested in the TX-TL platform.

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. Past CSHL contributions: Prof. Haynes is a founding CSHL Synthetic Biology course instructor (2013), and also taught in 2014 and 2015. CSHL Topic: Prof. Haynes will teach a module on engineering gene regulators, derived from the chromatin system, that target post-translational modifications of nuclear proteins called histones. This topic represents the interface of epigenetic cancer treatment and synthetic biology.



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. Past CSHL contributions: Prof. Beisel was a CSHL Synthetic Biology course instructor in 2016 and 2017.


Julius Lucks


Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Julius B. Lucks is an Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Northwestern 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. Past CSHL contributions: Prof. Lucks is a founding CSHL Synthetic Biology course instructor (2013), and also taught in 2014 and 2015.

Noireaux photo

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. Past CSHL contributions: Prof. Noireaux was a CSHL Synthetic Biology course instructor in 2017.