I’m currently working on my PhD in Biological Engineering at MIT. In my research, I work with Jim Collins and Domitilla Del Vecchio as my co-advisors and am interested in ways to use synthetic biology to for both global health and use mathematical modeling to better understand synthetic gene circuits.
My main PhD project revolves around cell-free diagnostics that can be used to detect specific DNA or RNA sequences that can tell us what viruses, bacteria, or mutations a person may be carrying. One project tries to measure the bacteria present in your gut that are good indicators of your gut microbiome health. Another effort is to test for the different kinds of human papillomavirus (HPV) that pose different levels of risk for cervical cancer. See here for more on these projects.
I also study how to best design biomolecular control circuits in bacteria. Many synthetic biologists have built circuits that perform a function, like simple digital logic, in bacteria. A major gap is figuring out design rules to help scale circuits and do functions more efficiently. I’ve worked on how neighboring genes influence each other through supercoiling of DNA. A more current project is looking at how to more efficiently use CRISPR-Cas9 for transcriptional regulation. See here for more on these projects.
Another passion of mine is communicating the science so it can escape the lab after all of the work that went into making it happen. I work as a communication fellow in the MIT Communication Lab where I get to coach other scientists on better communicating their own science through talks, papers, and proposals. I also work to communicate trends in synthetic biology through the PLOS Synbio Blog. As co-editor, I write original pieces and edit submissions from other synthetic biologists. You can read my all of my pieces for PLOS here.
In my remaining free time, I like to listen to podcasts, listen to audiobooks, read (physical) books, volunteer with MIT graduate student government, run (slowly), and fill my photo library with cute shots of our two cats.