SSB Group Members

Yongqin Jiao, Staff Scientist & Group Leader
Environmental Microbiology: Interdisciplinary research into systems biology-enabled design of microbes and microbial communities for clean energy and environment. In particular, investigating how microbes sense and metabolize essential metals and how they tolerate and defend against toxic ones. Current research focus on biomining of rare earth metals, bioremediation of uranium, biogeochemistry of plutonium, and microbial cement curing.
Mimi Yung, Staff Scientist & Deputy Group Leader
Biochemistry, Synthetic Biology, & Environmental Microbiology: Research into applications for engineered bacterial microcompartment and nanocompartment systems. Examining biomineralization by microbes for environmental applications.
Patrik d'Haeseleer, Staff Scientist
Computational Systems Biology: Interdisciplinary systems biology research into bacterial pathogens and microbial communities using metagenomics and other meta-omics data.

Ziye (Jesse) Dong, Postdoctoral Scientist
Chemical Engineering, Surface and Interface Science: Current research includes exploration of cost-effective and environment-friendly biomaterials for recovery of rare earth elements (REEs).


Michael Guzman, Postdoctoral Scientist 
Microbial physiology, geomicrobiology: Interdisciplinary approaches towards understanding microbe-mineral interactions, specifically for the development of bio-cement.

Jeffrey Kimbrel, Staff Scientist
Molecular & Cellular Biology, Bioinformatics: Research into microbes interacting with other organisms in their environment, particularly cultivated microalgae and probiotic bacteria. Characterizing microbial contaminants that can cause population crashes in industrial algae ponds.
Dan Park, Staff Scientist
Biochemistry: Characterizing the molecular mechanisms and gene expression programs that support resistance of bacteria to environmental stresses or facilitate unique metabolic capabilities. In particular, how knowledge of these processes can be leveraged for bioremediation or the production of biocommodities. Currently studying the response of Caulobacter crescentus to uranium stress with applications towards bioremediation.
Rhona Stuart, Staff Scientist
Marine Biology, Microbial Ecology, & Ecophysiology: Systems-level studies of microbial communities and roles of nutrient trace metals in microbial interactions. Current research involves both algal-bacterial interactions in open algal biofuel ponds and trace metal nutrition in nitrogen fixing consortia.
Kristina Rolison, Laboratory Manager
Marine Biology: Cultivating microalgae and bacteria for studies in symbiosis. Investigating bacterial protection of algae from rotifer predation.
Vanessa Brisson, Postdoctoral Scientist
Metabolomics, Microbial Ecology, & Environmental Microbiology: Examining the role of metabolite exudation in microbiome recruitment by algal and plant hosts. Metabolite exchange in algal-bacterial and plant-fungal-bacterial interactions.
Tek Hyung Lee, Postdoctoral Scientist
Chemical Engineering, Synthetic & Systems Biology: Current research includes designing and engineering gene circuits in microbes for production of therapeutic molecules.
Nancy Merino, Postdoctoral Scientist
Environmental Microbiology, Bioinformatics: Investigating how microorganisms affect plutonium fate and transport, in particular the relationship between microbe-metal-Pu interactions. This work includes pure culture studies, microcosms, microbial community analyses, and metagenomics.
Affiliated members

Gauthier Deblonde Postdoctoral Scientist (Affiliated Group Member)
Radiochemistry, hydrometallurgy, speciation. My research focuses on the interactions between metal ions and chelators (natural small molecules, synthetic ligands, or macromolecules such as proteins) with implications spanning separation technologies, medical applications, actinide and lanthanide sciences, strategic metal mining, and the behavior of heavy metals in the environment.

Ali Navid, Staff Scientist (Affiliated Group Member)
Computational Systems Biology: Research into microbial communities, multi-cellular organisms, and host-pathogen interactions. Use of dynamic and steady state models to examine pathogenesis of Trypanosoma brucei and Yersinia pestis.
Wes Overton, Staff Scientist (Affiliated Group Member)
Biochemical Engineering: Developing and using genetic engineering tools and systems biology to understand how environmental stimuli affect cellular processes.
Michael Thelen, Staff Scientist
Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics: Investigating molecular mechanisms of microbial adaptation in niche environments, including toxin resistance, biofilm and extracellular matrix formation, and microbiome symbioses.
  Chris Ward, Postdoctoral Scientist
Marine Microbial Ecology: Investigating ecological interactions between cultivated microalgae and their microbiome, particularly bacterial communities and fungal pathogens. Identifying and testing probiotic bacteria that improve algal growth and/or resistance to pests.
Xiao Bin (Max) Li, Post-College Appointee
Molecular Biology & Biotechnology: Performing molecular experiments in consultation with research scientists and postdocs. Interests include microenvironment interactions within biological systems.