Research Staff
Principal Investigator

Hal Alper, Ph.D.

B.S: Chemical Engineering, University of Maryland at College Park

Ph.D: Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Post-doc: Whitehead Institute

Post-doc: Shire Human Genetic Therapies

Postdoctoral Scholars

Hongyuan Lu, Ph.D.

Post-doc: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore

Ph.D.: Environmental Science, City University of Hong Kong

B.S.: Chemical & Biological Engineering, New York University

Email: hongylu AT utexas.edu

Research: I am passionate about metabolic engineering/synthetic biology research in general. Currently, I am interested in evolving enzymes using directed evolution.

Interests: I love playing badminton and travelling. Also, I enjoy cooking and eating with the exemption from doing the dishes.

Kelly Miller, Ph.D.

Ph.D.: Chemistry, Michigan State University

M.S.: Chemistry, Michigan State University

B.A.: Chemistry, Kalamazoo College

Email: kkmiller AT utexas.edu

Research: I am interested in the biocatalytic synthesis of compounds which can lead to polymers with new/enhanced properties and, ultimately, their synthesis from second-generation feedstocks.

Interests: I enjoy normal things like running and cooking and intubating. I also enjoy pretending to be good at billiards and golf.

Graduate Students

Emily Bowman

PhD Student in Biochemistry (ICMB)

B.S.: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Trinity University

Email: emkbowman AT utexas.edu

Research: I'm interested in developing tools for synthetic biology to study yeast metabolism and improve their production of specialty chemicals.

Interests: I enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy books, competing in events at my gym, and anything that gets me outside.

Sierra Brooks

PhD Student in Chemical Engineering

B.S.: Chemical-Biological Engineering, MIT

Email: sierramb AT utexas.edu

Research: I am interested in applying metabolic engineering and materials science tools to develop platforms for on-demand production of high-value compounds from microorganisms.

Interests: I enjoy running, throwing a frisbee, petting dogs, baking, and wandering Trader Joes.

Hannah Cole (co-advised with Dr. Ellington)

PhD Student in Microbiology (ICMB)

B.A.: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, University of California, Berkeley

Email: hcole510 AT utexas.edu

Research: I am interested in engineering proteins and microbes for bioremediation applications with a specific focus on plastic degradation.

Interests: I enjoy hanging out with my dog Dot, reading, soccer, basketball, learning more about science policy/communication, and sending my friends weird things I find on the internet.

Sarah Coleman

PhD Student in Chemical Engineering

B.S.: Chemical-Biological Engineering, MIT

Email: sarahcol AT utexas.edu

Research: I am interested in the synthesis of specialty chemicals in yeast using synthetic biology and metabolic engineering tools.

Interests: I enjoy being outdoors, concerts, gardening and pretending to be funny.

Simon d'Oelsnitz (co-advised with Dr. Ellington)

PhD Student in Cell and Molecular Biology (ICMB)

B.S.: Pharmacology, Stony Brook University

Email: doelsnitz AT utexas.edu

Research: I am interested in directed evolution and protein engineering for the production of specialty chemicals and biopharmaceuticals.

Interests: Bouldering, playing piano, cooking, meditation, soccer, dank memes, web programming, and cheetahs.

Angela Gordillo Sierra

PhD Student in Chemical Engineering

B.S.: Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, Universidad de los Andes Bogotá, Colombia

M.Sc.: Chemical Engineering, Universidad de los Andes Bogotá, Colombia

Email: ar.gordillo AT utexas.edu

Research: I’m interested in developing synthetic biology tools for the production of industrially important and/or specialty chemicals.

Interests: I enjoy trying new recipes, being active outside, traveling and eating pizza.

Celeste Marsan

PhD Student in Chemical Engineering

B.S.: Chemical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Email: celeste.marsan AT utexas.edu

Research: I am interested in using synthetic biology and genetic engineering tools to produce novel bioactive metabolites.

Interests: I enjoy hiking, playing sports, exploring new places, and pretty much anything else I can do outdoors with my dog, Milo.

Claire Palmer

PhD Student in Cell and Molecular Biology (ICMB)

B.A.: Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Wesleyan University

M.A.: Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Wesleyan University

Email: cmpalmer15 AT utexas.edu

Research: I am interested in studying metabolic regulation and engineering yeast to produce novel bioactive molecules.

Interests: I love baking, running, live music, hiking and traveling.

Kristin Presnell

PhD Student in Chemical Engineering

B.S. Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Email: kpres48 AT gmail.com

Research: I am interested in using computational methods to develop more rational approaches to the design of a wide range of metabolic engineering tools.

Interests: I enjoy cooking, board games, painting, and Netflix... but primarily cats. I really enjoy cats.

Kevin Reed

PhD Student in Chemical Engineering

B.S.: Chemical Engineering, New Mexico Tech

Email: kevin.reed AT utexas.edu

Research: I am interested in integrating biologically rare elements like the halogens into microorganism metabolism through enzyme and pathway engineering to generate novel bioproducts and materials.

Interests: I enjoy playing and writing music, basketball, soccer, snowboarding, mountaineering, rock climbing, and writing heinous satire pieces with my boys.

Xiunan Yi

PhD Student in Microbiology (ICMB)

B.S.: Microbiology, Shandong University

Email: xiunan.yi AT utexas.edu

Research: I am interested in building a cell-free production system using metabolically engineered yeast strains.

Interests: I enjoy traveling, board/card games, video games and cats.

Shuo-Fu (Joseph) Yuan

PhD Student in Biochemistry (ICMB)

B.S.: Biological Science and Technology, National Chiao Tung University

M.S.: Biochemical Sciences, National Taiwan University

Email: shuofuyuan AT utexas.edu

Research: I am interested in developing nucleotide-based biosensors for high-throughput screening and engineering microorganisms to produce value-added products.

Interests: I enjoy watching Animal Planet, playing basketball and tennis, bubble milk tea and traveling.

Visiting Scholars

Lichao Sun

B.S.: Biotechnology, Beijing University of Chemical and Technology

Ph.D: Biology, Tsinghua University

Email: sunlichao AT utexas.edu

Research: I am interested in studying the biosynthesis of food functional ingredients and food additives using synthetic biology tool and protein engineering strategy.

Interests: I love traveling, watching movies, listening to music and playing table tennis.

Ruiqi Tang

Ph.D. Candidate: Shanghai Jiao Tong University

B.S.: Biotechnology, China Agricultural University

Email: rq_tang AT austin. utexas.edu

Research: I am interested in metabolic engineering of Saccharomyces cerevisiae for biofuel productions.

Interests: I enjoy traveling, going to the zoo, safari and aquarium, watching movies and animations.

Undergraduate Students

Parv Bhateja

Email: parv.bhateja AT gmail.com

Dominic Borbon

Email: dom.borbon AT utexas.edu

Ayse Erdemir

Email: ayse.erdemir01 AT utexas.edu

Selina Eshraghi

Email: selinae AT gmail.com

Shruti Gadiyar

Email: gadiyar.sh AT utexas.edu

Beena Lad

Email: beena.lad0429 AT gmail.com

Omar Melhem

Email: omelhem AT utexas.edu

Donia Mobli

Email: donia.mobli AT utexas.edu

Michael Montez

Email: michaelm314159 AT utexas.edu

Priya Nair

Email: nair.h.priya AT utexas.edu

Ankim Nguyen

Email: ankim0nguyen AT gmail.com

Kira Placido

Email: kiraplacido AT utexas.edu

Emory Siedel

Email: williamsiedell AT gmail.com

Thu Tran

Email: thutran AT utexas.edu

Jordan Wells

Email: jordantwells AT utexas.edu

Minye Zhao

Email: minyezhao AT utexas.edu