Ron Weiss joined the BE and EECS faculties as dual associate professor (with tenure) starting in July 2009, having moved from Princeton University where he held comparable rank in their department of electrical engineering and with a joint appointment in their department of molecular biology. His degrees are double BA in Computer Science and Economics from Brandeis University (1992), followed by SM and PhD in EECS at MIT (1994, 2001). Professor Weiss’s research focuses on programming new cellular behaviors by designing and embedding synthetic gene networks that perform desired functions in single cells and multi-cellular environments. This nascent field of synthetic biology holds promise for a wide range of applications such as programmed tissue engineering, cancer therapeutics, environmental biosensing and effecting, biomaterial fabrication, and an improved understanding of naturally occuring biological processes.
Brian Teague is currently a postdoctoral associate in Ron Weiss’ laboratory. He earned his B.A. in biochemistry and computer science from Rice University and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Cellular and Molecular Biology. Brian’s interests include instrumentation for interrogating biological systems; extracting meaning from large data sets (statistics, algorithms, modeling, visualization, ontologies); emergence of global behavior from local rules in single cells; and turning undergraduates into scientists.
Kathryn Brink is a member of MIT’s class of 2016. Kathryn was first introduced to Synthetic Biology through a project-based class where, as part of a team, she designed a genetic circuit to regulate iron absorption in the small intestine, with the goal of helping patients with iron-deficiency anemia. Kathryn was previously an undergraduate researcher in the Ploegh Lab at Whitehead Institute, studying the effects of nanobodies on the activity of glycolytic enzymes from S. cerevisiae. Outside of iGEM, Kathryn is treasurer of Stop Our Silence (a student group concerned with sexual assault awareness), mentors high school girls in science and engineering through the Society of Women Engineers, and is a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority. She will be matriculating into the Systems and Synthetic Biology PhD program at Rice University in the fall.
Lyla Atta is a rising senior in Biological Engineering. She is very interested in cellular biology and biochemistry, and especially interested in applications of these areas to neurobiology. At some point in the far (or near?) future she wishes to find science-based answers to questions that were previously thought to be philosophical: what is thinking, understanding and learning? How do all these processes occur in systems that are made up of mere chemicals. Lyla was part of the 2014 MIT iGEM team. It was the first time she had the opportunity to get some laboratory experience (which she was in dire need of, having never worked in a lab before). She is now working with some of her fellow 2014 iGEM team members on a spin-off project while mentoring this year’s iGEM. Outside science-related things, Lyla is very interested in education policy and enjoys outdoor activities.
Nelson Hall is a recent 2016 graduate of the Biological Engineering department. He was on MIT’s 2013 iGEM team working on dCas9 based transcriptional effectors and engineering exosomes. Since then, he’s continued acting as a mentor to the 2014, 2015, and 2016 iGEM teams. His favorite part of iGEM is seeing people go from hardly knowing how to hold a pipette to fully-independent researchers in a matter of months. This will be his last year mentoring MIT’s iGEM team since he’ll be starting his Ph.D in Biological Engineering at Stanford in the Fall, and while he’s sad to leave, iGEM will probably pull him back in one way or another.