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 15 years, Simmons was part of the senior management team at Sandia National Laboratories, most recently serving as the Senior Manager of Advanced Biomanufacturing, Biomass Program Manager. He is currently an 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.
Aindrila Mukhopadhyay received an MSc in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, and has a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Chicago. She is a senior scientist and a principal investigator in the Ecosystems and Networks Integrated with Genes Molecular Assemblies (ENIGMA) Scientific Focus Area. Mukhopadhyay leads a multidisciplinary team to study stress response in bacteria using microbiological, biochemical, and systems biology tools. Additionally, she is the Vice President of the Fuels Synthesis Division and the Director of Host Engineering at JBEI. Her JBEI group develops tools of engineering E. coli and S. cerevisiae strains, and specifically focuses on developing robust strains that show high tolerance and productivity during biofuels and chemicals production.
Deputy for Operations
Diane Pierotti has over 30 years of research program development and management experience. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley where she also spent the majority of her career. At Berkeley, Pierotti conceptualized, developed and shepherded large-scale initiatives and programs through successful resource procurement, launches and implementation. Notable efforts launched include the National Center for the Workplace, QB3 Institute, the NSF Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc), and the Center for Computational and Genomic Biology. She also led Berkeley coordination efforts for the establishment of the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory, now the Stanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) and oversaw the development of the successful proposal to establish the Energy Biosciences Institute, a $500M award signifying the largest university/industry agreement in the nation’s history. Prior to leaving Berkeley, Pierotti conceived and launched the Berkeley Research Development Office. She was previously Director of Research Advancement at JBEI, where she was responsible for assisting with program development and implementation, identifying funding opportunities and developing competitive proposals for efforts that expand and broaden research efforts.
Nathan J. Hillson
Department Head, Biodesign
Nathan Hillson is the Director of Synthetic Biology Informatics, Fuels Synthesis and Technologies Divisions, at JBEI. Hillson, computational staff scientist, is also the Group Lead of Synthetic Biology Informatics at the Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute, an 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.
Antoine M. Snijders
Department Head, BioEngineering & BioMedical Sciences
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. Precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in environment, lifestyle and genes for each person. Genetic susceptibility is a major component that contributes to the variability in disease susceptibility. Thus, identifying the genes involved in susceptibility to disease risk may have potential utility in developing novel personalized medicines, lead to greater understanding of the biological pathways involved in disease development, and elucidate how environmental factors exert their effects in combination with genetic variants and the gut microbiome. Snijders’ research goals are to understand the complex interactions among genetic background, environmental exposures, and the microbiome in determining disease risk. His laboratory pursues studies to gain insight into these interactions using mouse population-based cohorts and human epidemiologic studies. Currently, he is the chair of the Berkeley Lab Animal Welfare and Research Committee and the Human Subjects Committee.
Department Head, Process Engineering & Analytics
Deepti Tanjore is Director of the Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU), where she has been a researcher since its inception in December 2011. In addition, she served as the principa investigator for the Berkeley Lab/BETO Feedstocks Conversion Interface Consortium. Tanjore is a two-time participant in the Lab Corps/Energy I-Corps program and a 2015 Berkeley Lab Women@TheLab awardee. She also serves on the advisory board for the BioManufacturing Program at Laney College in Oakland, Calif.
Tanjore earned her BTech in chemical engineering with a minor in biotechnology from Andhra University in Visakhapatnam, India. She has a MS in biological engineering with a minor in statistics from North Carolina State University and a PhD in biological engineering from Pennsylvania State University. She conducted postdoctoral research on chemical- and bio-catalysis for the production of bio-jet fuel precursors with Charles Wyman at UC Riverside.