Sarah Richardson earned a BS in biology from the University of Maryland in 2004 and a PhD in human genetics and molecular biology from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2011. She was awarded a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship to pursue research on algorithms for the design of synthetic nucleotide sequences and the engineering and assembly of a synthetic yeast genome. Sarah joined the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2012 as a Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow in Genomics at the DOE Joint Genome Institute and Joint BioEnergy Institute to work on massive-scale synthetic biology projects and the genomics of non-model bacteria. In 2015 she was awarded a L’Oréal Women in Science postdoctoral fellowship to pursue her work on cryptic CRISPR systems. As chief scientist of Ignition Genomics, she is dedicated to the development of clever genetic tools for overlooked or underexploited bacteria.
Lalitha Sundaram received her primary introduction to synthetic biology was with the University of Cambridge and Edinburgh’s Arsenic Biosensor Collaboration which devised a bacterial biosensor to detect groundwater arsenic in LMICs. Lalitha developed a strategy to take this novel synthetic biology product from bench to field, focusing on the international regulatory landscape and responsible research and innovation. Lalitha has subsequently been awarded a Postdoctoral Research Project Fellowship at King’s College London, where she investigates the opportunities and challenges facing emerging biotechnologies in global health more broadly. Upon completion of this fellowship, she is slated to take up a post at the University of Cambridge’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, where her portfolio will include investigating biorisks such as engineered pathogens, DIY-bio and gene synthesis as well as the risks posed by not exploiting emerging biotechnologies to tackle emerging concerns. Lalitha’s PhD research, also at the University of Cambridge, used a combination of bioinformatic, next-generation sequencing and molecular biology tools to explore host-cell metabolic and microRNA changes following infection by the pathogenic parasite Toxoplasma gondii.
Sean Ward is a serial entrepreneur, first in the music industry with Relatable, and currently in synthetic biology with Synthace. At Synthace, one of the UK’s leading synbio companies, Sean is driving the work on Antha, a high-level language for the reproducible and transferable execution of biological working practices. Before founding Synthace, Sean was a research associate in Bioinformatics at University College London, where he conducted research into protein folding, protein structure prediction and gene coding. Prior to his work in bioinformatics, Sean was the co-founder and CTO of Relatable, a leading US-based acoustic fingerprinting company, whose customers included major peer-to-peer companies such as Napster, as well as consumer electronics manufacturers, royalty collection agencies and major labels. Sean has a BSc in computer science from UCL. Sean is also an advisor on synthetic biology to the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).