Division Director, Biological Systems & Engineering
In addition to directing the Biological Systems & Engineering Division, Blake Simmons serves as the Chief Scientific and Technology Officer and Vice President of the Deconstruction Division at the US Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) in Emeryville. After earning his BS in chemical engineering from the University of Washington, Simmons continued his studies at Tulane University and received his doctorate in the same field. For the past 15 years, Simmons has been part of the Senior Management team at Sandia National Laboratories, most recently serving as the Senior Manager of Advanced Biomanufacturing, Biomass Program Manager, as well as Adjunct Professor at the University of Queensland. His expertise includes biofuels, renewable chemicals, biomanufacturing, abiotic-biotic interfaces, biomass pretreatment, enzyme engineering, biofuel cells, templated nanomaterials, microfluidics, desalination, and biomineralization.
Susan E. Celniker
Susan Celniker is a Senior Staff Scientist, co-Director of the Berkeley Drosophila Genome Project (http://www.fruitfly.org) and Adjunct Professor and Chair of the Executive Committee in Comparative Biochemistry at UC Berkeley. She graduated from Pitzer College with a BA in Biology and Anthropology. After completing her dissertation at Caltech, she received her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She accepted an NIH Postdoctoral Service Award (1983-1986) to work with E.B. Lewis (Nobel Laureate, 1995) conducting genetic and molecular analyses of developmental regulatory, HOX gene, Abdominal-B. She continued to work with Dr. Lewis until 1996, when she was hired as a Staff Scientist at Berkeley Lab. In 2001, she was a co-recipient of the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize for “The Genome Sequence of Drosophila melanogaster.” Over her career at Berkeley Lab, Sue has pioneered Drosophila functional genomics, the use of the fruit fly as a genetic model organism for human and environmental health, and launched studies of the transcriptome for NHGRI’s modENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) project. She is an advisor to FlyBase (2007-present), on the editorial boards of BMC Genomics (2009-present) and G3 (2011-present), and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2016 she won the George Beadle Award from the Genetics Society of America.
Deputy for Operations
Nick Everson has nearly 20 years of financial and operations management experience, beginning as a submarine electrician in the United States Navy. He was a financial analyst in industry for Intel Corporation, and then in the National Lab environment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He began work at Berkeley Lab as the Business Manager for the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI) in 2007 and received his MBA from the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business while there. After his time at JGI, Nick spent 2.5 years as the Deputy Director for Operations in the Materials Sciences Division at Berkeley Lab. Nick has been Chief Operating Officer of the US Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute since October 2014, and in October 2015 also took on the role of Deputy for Operations for the Biological Systems & Engineering Division.
Special Advisor to the Director
Mina Bissell is a Berkeley Lab Distinguished Scientist who has been recognized for her lifetime contributions to the fields of breast cancer research, the enhanced role of extracellular matrix (ECM) and the nucleus environment to gene expression in normal and malignant tissues. These works have ushered and have changed some central paradigms that have strengthened the importance of context in the development of cancer.
Department Head, Biodesign
Nathan J. Hillson is the Director of Synthetic Biology Informatics, Fuels Synthesis and Technologies Divisions, at the US Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute. Hillson is also the Group Lead of Synthetic Biology Informatics at the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute; Computational Staff Scientist and Department Head of Biodesign in the Biological Systems & Engineering Division at Berkeley Lab; Affiliate Investigator at the Engineering Biology Research Center (EBRC); and co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at TeselaGen Biotechnologies. He holds a PhD in Biophysics from Harvard.
Department Head, Process Engineering & Analytics
Throughout his career, Todd Pray has been committed to developing bioscience technologies that improve human health and environmental sustainability across a broad spectrum of pharmaceutical, food science and renewable fuel and chemical product R&D programs. As Program Head at the Advanced Biofuels (and Bioproducts) Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU), his role is to lead the development and execution of R&D projects with clients and collaborators.
Prior to his time at Berkeley Lab, Todd spent a year at Impossible Food, Inc., a cutting-edge Bay Area start up in the emerging food biotech space, as Sr. Director of Product Development. Before his time there, Todd progressed through several roles at Amyris, Inc., most recently as Senior Director of Product Management. Todd helped direct strategic collaborations for bio-based fuel and chemical product development and scale-up with the US Department of Energy and as a Steering Committee member for Amyris’ commercial partnerships with Total New Energies and Beta Renewables.
Antoine M. Snijders
Interim Department Head, Organismal Systems & Bioresilience
Antoine Snijders is a native of Holland who came to Berkeley Lab in 2008 after a ten-year career in cancer research at the University of California, San Francisco. His lab work focuses on determining the mechanisms that might either predispose or protect an individual from cancer. Antoine’s laboratory has over 15 years of experience using cell culture and mouse model systems to identify phenotypic outcomes associated with environmental exposures. This is achieved by using a strategy that integrates systems genetics and discovery approaches with mechanistic information to ultimately address key questions concerning the effects of environmentally relevant exposures on human health. Along with Jian-Hua Mao, he has recently established the Collaborative Cross mouse collection to help screen for linkages between genetic factors that influence motor performance and body weight, as well as gut microbiomes and their linkages to systemic health effects and the environment. Antoine has a long-standing interest in investigating cancer risk using integrative multi-omics approaches to discover cancer genes and the biomarkers for cancer diagnosis, prognosis and therapy. Currently, he is the chair of the Berkeley Lab Animal Welfare and Research Committee and co-director of the Berkeley Lab Gnotobiotic Rodent Center.