Team Members

Spencer Chen

Some people think Spencer is a pretty nice guy. But what they don’t know is Spencer can be quite the liar. For example, ask him who the smarter twin is and he’ll say himself. Spencer however, is definitely the meaner twin. Whether any of this is true is up to you.

Spencer likes to read Ancient Greek and Roman literature, which has limited to no real-world application to his life. He is however, passionate about immunology and genetics research. He is a freak of nature with many bodily disorders. For example, his arms and legs are different lengths. He idolizes Thomas Keller and secretly wants to drop out and make haute cuisine for a living.

Steven Chen

Some people think Steven is a pretty nice guy. But what they don’t know is Steven can be quite the liar. For example, ask him who the smarter twin is and he’ll say himself. Steven however, is definitely the nicer twin. Whether any of this is true is up to you.

Steven is also strangely obsessed with all things Medieval Europe but that is about all that makes him interesting; he is actually a really boring person. His research interests are in the field of biochemistry, cell biology, biomedical engineering-- though why these interest him I couldn’t begin to understand. Steven really likes eating bread. He likes his bread plain, just like his personality.

Maneesh Gupta

A true Renaissance man, and a true ladies man. Any task you give Maneesh, from PCR to programming, will be done flawlessly. Just don’t try to get him to leave his house in the process. He’s the master of all things barbecue and Boolean, tasty and triangulated, mathematical and manly. But vegetarians beware, he's Maneesh Gupta, and he’s so delicious.

Danielle Huang

Danielle, "the overachiever" always aims for higher goals. Her schedule is packed just like that of a Hollywood star, except that she doesn't act, but she truly enjoys keeping herself busy and productive. What an exemplary student. Over the summer break, she worked very hard to contribute to Cornell iGEM until the day before she left Cornell for a co-op at Johnson & Johnson. We miss you Danielle!

Dan Levine

While most of us are water-based, Dan is not water-based. He enjoys long walks on the tight-rope, bumpy rides on the pommel horse and protein-heavy meals. If you are what you eat, then Dan is a bowl of non-fat Chobani yogurt (the serving spoon being a vanilla-flavored Power Bar). However, a cranial examination reveals Dan is wired to circuit-boards and graphics cards. At a glance, his computer models could be mistaken for supermodels. Needless to say, Dan is popular among ladies.

Rafael Lizarralde

Averages 200 + APM in StarCraft II, makes chimeric polymerases in his spare time, and proficiently speaks four languages - Rafael is a modern day renaissance man. His brain surpasses Amazon's servers with the storage capacity approximately equal to a googlebyte or three of data. After majoring in Biological Engineering, Rafael plans to go to graduate school. In graduate school, it is rumored that Rafael plans to study meat science and the art of turf grass management. Rafael's career aspirations are to win a couple of Nobel prizes and designation as Cosmo's "Man Candy of the Year."

Kelvin Luu

There are only 10 types of people on Cornell iGEM: Kelvin Luu, and those who wish they could count like Kelvin Luu. Basically, the man’s a G – a Graphics G. Beyond website design and Android coding, Kelvin enjoys orienting objects and warping System.time with his compsci genius. Other talents involve staying up past 4 AM and making burnt hash browns.

Jim Mathew

An elocutionist so suave you'd think he speaks in songs of the Sirens. But don't let his baby face and sunny smile fool you. Featured four times on the front cover of Nature, Forbes, and Maxim's Hot 100, Jim seamlessly integrates his wizardry in chemical engineering and applied economics into a leader's conviction that's not to be taken lightly.

Jim has been especially prolific the past couple of years. He coined the acronym YOLO after wrestling black bears on one of his favorite morning hikes in the great outdoors. As an esteemed member of the Cornell Consulting Group, Jim personally advised Carly Rae Jepsen to append "maybe" to her signature call phrase, single-handedly launching her path to fame. He founded the student organization "Nebraskans at Cornell," for which he juggles all the responsibilities as president, treasurer, social chair, and...sole member.

Sorry, ladies, but this bro's heart already belongs to a special someone.

Eric Morris

I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

Claire Paduano

One day, Claire met the Energizer Bunny and decided that she wanted to be better than him. So she sat up, jumped out of her crib and got to work. Ever since that fateful day, Claire has conquered every obstacle in her path. Whether it’s imaging mouse brains, dancing on Sitara, solving Quantum Electrodynamics problems or saving Cornell iGEM from certain doom, Claire can do it all.

Shweta Patro

Not much can be said about Shweta – her radiance can only be captured through the joyous harmonies of pop music. After all, she lights up our world like nobody else. The way she flips her hair gets us overwhelmed. Our princess of vlogging, our proponent of public education, and Swati’s beloved twin, she comes with only one disclaimer: after midnight, nothing that she says can be held against her. If only we were her boyfriend, we’d never let her go.

Caleb Radens

Caleb gets the best miniprep yields because he is magic. Other examples of his hoodoo voodoo are as follows: Caleb can turn invisible, but chooses not to; he can breathe while underwater, but finds it distasteful; he can levitate birds, but laments that nobody seems to care. Also, Caleb has always found it curious that he can't remember not existing, and has thus concluded that he must be immortal. Lately, he's considered the possibility that the universe is merely a product of his mind, and that we'd all cease to exist if he were to die. After cogitating on whether such a view would commit him to solipsism, he's concluded that other minds can exist within the gestalt of a greater, emergent consciousness – viz., his own.

Paras Sanghavi

Paras eats electricity for breakfast, and is also known as one of the original 151 Pokémon. To the unacquainted stranger, Paras appears to be an ambitious member of the dry lab team, but can defeat Chuck Norris in any sort of competion, be it a contest of strength, speed, agility, or facial hair. A man of fine taste, my boy Paras is now a fan of Latin, so I'll finish off the bio with a bit of the classics. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Chie Shu

Simply put, Chie can do everything. You can find her in our wet lab, dry lab and mathematical modeling teams. With a wild background from a Japanese all-girl high school and taiko drumming (Yamatai), she would also sit down at a piano to play classical music and cook delicious Asian food. Her love for cats has reached the level where she can now talk to them (seriously). We suspect her reason for joining iGEM is to steal Claire’s cute cats.

Mark Simpson

As the God of Making Electrocompetent Stocks, it is appropriate that Mark has taken the mighty lightning bolt as his emblem. Like Almighty Zeus, one day Mark too may smite enemies with his bolts of vengeance and seduce nyiads, mortals, and nymphs alike. But, for better or for worse, as of yet Mark draws most of his power not from his promiscuity, but from his cell-washing prowess – we can only hope that he will soon take up the baton of social chair (passed to him against his will, probably because he wasn’t in the room to protest) and buy the team a round of pepperoni pizza.

Tina Su

Currently a sophomore Chemistry major, Tina is interested in just about everything. Her passion for learning has allowed her to be one of two people who span both the wetlab and drylab. Her dependability in interjecting with at least one question has allowed us to lovingly nickname her the 'Random Question Generator.' Tina brings lots of hard work and dedication to the team, the same of which can be seen in her hobbies, such as running three miles a day. The team really needs her ability to be thorough while managing her >20 credits and researching for CUGEM, and not just because nobody else is small enough to be the subject in analogies involving the size of our Pelican bioreactor encasement. Tina is incredibly caring and friendly, but if you still need something to talk about, simply mention yogurt. Or bread. Or Feynman.

Swati Sureka

In the panhandle of Florida, born and raised
In the lab is where she now spends most of her days
First stop, up. Then second stop down.
Such precision and skill, she deserves her crown.
Once, a couple of bubbles that were up to no good,
Started making trouble in the fume hood.
Swati used her powers to flick em out the tip, yeah
Everyone agrees: Man, she's a trip!

Upstairs, for the purpose of quantification
Swati never really does take a vacation
Nanodrop. Load up, wait for the click.
Concentration: 10 million. Wow, she's slick!

Manny Valdez

There was once a chemical engineer who feared no machine.
His name was Manny Valdez, and he frequently dominated Pita Pit.

On iGEM, he is our tank.
When you need to bring in the big guns.
When you need to break out the machines.
When you need to CAD the **** outta some Septimus.

You call Manny Valdez.

He rumored to have DJ prowess on par with deadmau5.

Lydia Wang

Lydia is a unique specimen in the Cornell iGEM team. Not only is she one of the rare electrical engineers that have been ensnared by iGEM, but she also has shown an incredible skillset in the electronics lab. These include the ability to communicate to electronics and defy the laws of physics. When she is not busy trying to move batteries in Phillips 228, she is often seen showing off her magnificent rowing skills for the dragon boat team.

Dylan Webster

Dylan visited our world when our universe's membrane collided with an adjacent one. A being composed of energy, but not matter, he chooses to veil himself in a human guise because he found the stares distracting. Because he exists independently of time, he experiences all of time simultaneously, and does not believe in free will. When we asked him whether he could tell us if we'll win, he simply shook his head and replied cryptically "If you immediately know the candle light is fire, then the meal was cooked long ago".

Robert Zhang

His memory, photographic. His vision, legendary. On a mission to Weill Hall, he once sniped a rogue Shewanella at 400 yards. He logged its last words, recounting all meals, behaviors, and decisions performed before the kill.

In lab he can be found crafting tools for our next challenge, working on the latest iteration of Septimus Prime. He is rumored to live a double life as a Deus Ex Aug. With a sweet pair of shades.

Faculty Advisors

Dr. Lars Angenent - Biological and Environmental Engineering

Lars Angenent is interested in converting organic materials with undefined mixed cultures, defined mixed cultures, or pure cultures of microbes to generate specific products, such as the energy carriers – methane; carboxylates; electric current; n-butanol. Pretreatment of the biomass may be necessary to increase the conversion rates, and therefore Lars Angenent is also interested in physical/chemical (e.g., dilute acid method), thermochemical (e.g., slow pyrolysis), and biological pretreatment steps. In regards to bioprocessing steps, Lars Angenent studies anaerobic digestion, anaerobic fermentation, bioelectrochemical systems, syngas fermentation, and ABE fermentation. Other areas of interest are biosensors and biocomputing devices that are based on bioelectrochemical systems (BESs); and photobioreactors.

For organic waste conversion into bioenergy, Lars Angenent is promoting the carboxylate platform as an important platform in biorefineries because water and nutrients must be recycled while bioenergy yields must be maximized. This platform is based on microbial conversions with undefined mixed cultures that can handle the complexity and variability of organic wastes. Therefore, Lars Angenent is interested in the microbial community dynamics in engineered systems. For this reason, his lab utilizes second-generation sequencing platforms in combination with powerful bioinformatic tools and ecology theory.

Dr. Shivaun Archer - Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Shivaun Archer is a Senior Lecturer in charge of the Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Instructional Laboratories. She designs and teaches undergraduate instructional labs for five biomedical engineering courses: BME 131, BME 301, BME 302, BME 401, and BME 402. The labs are designed to illustrate the course material and bring research to undergraduate education whilst exposing students to cutting edge technology and research methodology. A significant emphasis in all the labs is biomedical nanotechnology. Each of the five courses has a hands-on lab module that focuses specifically on nanobiotechnology. Overall, the lab modules enhance the hands-on training of Cornell students in the areas of microfabrication, microfluidics, biosensors, nano/microbiotechnology, and drug delivery. In recognition of her efforts in undergraduate education, Dr. Archer has received a prestigious College of Engineering Teaching award.

Before coming to Cornell, Dr. Archer worked for five years at Lynntech, Inc. a small research company specializing in biotechnology, biomaterials, chemical and biological sensors, medical biotechnology, and environmental remediation. Her work on wastewater treatment for long term space missions resulted in her receiving two NASA Inventions Space Act Awards. She also holds a joint appointment as a Research Associate in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Her research interests include nanobiotechnology and tissue engineering.

Dr. Matthew DeLisa - Chemical Engineering

Matthew DeLisa received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 1996; his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland in 2001; and did postdoctoral work at the University of Texas-Austin, Department of Chemical Engineering. DeLisa joined the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University as an assistant professor in 2003 and was promoted to associate professor in 2009. He recently served as a Gastprofessur at ETH Zürich in the Institut für Mikrobiologie.

Professor DeLisa's research focuses on understanding and controlling the molecular mechanisms underlying protein biogenesis -- folding and assembly, membrane translocation and post-translational modifications -- in the complex environment of a living cell. His contributions to science and engineering include the invention of numerous commercially important technologies for facilitating the discovery, design and manufacturing of human drugs and seminal discoveries in the areas of cellular protein folding and protein translocation. DeLisa has received several awards for his work including an NSF CAREER award, a NYSTAR Watson Young Investigator award, a Beckman Foundation Young Investigator award, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator award, and a NYSTAR Distinguished Faculty Award. He was also named one of the top 35 young innovators (TR35) by MIT's Technology Review in 2005 and was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Wiley-Blackwell Biotechnology and Bioengineering Daniel I.C. Wang award, which honors a distinguished young researcher in this field. Most recently, he was honored with a Cornell Provost's Award for Distinguished Scholarship and was the recipient of the Young Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society's BIOT division.

Dr. Jeff Gralnick - Microbiology, University of Minnesota

Jeffrey Gralnick has extensively studied the physiology of Shewanella, a species of gram-negative bacteria found throughout the world in aquatic environments. By understanding the molecular mechanism that enables this species to respire a diversity of compounds - including insoluble minerals - he hopes to engineer strains that can generate power in microbial fuel cells or react against certain toxic metals in the environment.

Working in collaboration with Prof. Daniel Bond, Gralnick made a key discovery about how bacteria can convert organic compounds into electricity. It was observed that riboflavin (commonly known as vitamin B-2) was responsible for much of the energy produced by Shewanella bacteria growing on electrodes. Riboflavin produced by the bacteria was able to carry electrons from the living cells to the electrodes, and rates of electricity production increased by 370 percent as riboflavin accumulated. This finding has major implications for the development of scaled-up microbial fuel cells using similar bacteria.

Gralnick is developing strains, tools and techniques for increasing the robustness of using Shewanella for metabolic engineering and downstream applications in both Bioenergy (microbial fuel cells), Bioremediation and Biocatalysis.

Dr. Xiling Shen - Electrical and Computer Engineering

Dr. Xiling Shen has been an assistant professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell University since August 2009.

Born in Shanghai, China, Dr. Xiling Shen went on to receive his BS and MS degree from the Electrical Engineering Department of Stanford University in 2001. He then worked at Barcelona Design Inc. for two years, specializing in analog circuit design and optimization, before joining Professor Mark Horowtiz' research group in the Electrical Engineering Department at Stanford in 2003. In the first two years of his PhD, he collaborated with Professor Joseph Kahn on using adaptive spatial equalization to compensate modal dispersion in multimode fibers. From 2005 to 2008, he worked with Professor Harley McAdams, Professor Lucy Shapiro, and Professor David Dill on modeling and analyzing the asymmetric division of Caulobacter crescentus. Xiling’s postdoctoral work focused on synthetic biology with Dr. Adam Arkin in Bioengineering at UC Berkeley prior to joining the faculty at Cornell University’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Graduate and Post-Graduate Advisors

Sean O'Brien, DeLisa Lab

Taylor Stevenson, DeLisa Lab

Michaela TerAvest, Angenent Lab

Dr. Didi Waraho, DeLisa Lab