Meet the Team

BioMakers Executive Team

The MIT BioMakers Executive Team helps run events, workshops, and projects in the space and continues to work to build out the biomaking community at MIT and collaborate with organizations beyond MIT! They are the team to ask for questions about starting your project, events/workshops/classes you would like to see, and here for you.

Janice Tjan: Co-chair

‘Sup! I’m Janice and I am a 2022 majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a biotechnology focus, and in Art & Design. I love adventuring by walking through Boston and I happened to walk past the BioMaker Space a lot while it was under construction. It finally opened up in fall 2019; I walked in when I got the chance and now I am on a whole new type of adventure! I hope to do my best to grow the maker-culture and community within this space. 

Apart from the topics I study, my interests also include the democratization of medical technology and science communication. Past research I have taken part in includes writing lab curriculum for integrated photonics laboratories, administrating coding competitions that take place on the ISS, and prototyping medical devices from open-source hardware. I am excited to learn about the frontiers of engineering in all fields and sharing this technology with others!

Rachel Shen: Co-Chair

Hi, my name is Rachel Shen! I’m a 2022 majoring in course 7 and minoring in course 12. I am from Quincy, Massachusetts, where I grew up along the coast and wetlands. I’m really excited about conducting research about biology as part of a larger system, particularly the oceans. I’m also interested in plant biology and the rhizosphere! I enjoy field work and in my career, I plan to use the understanding using biological tools to create solutions to environmental problems. I UROPed in the Velasquez-Garcia lab studying plant cell differentiation to create 3D-printable gels and learned to grow Proclorococcus (a species of photosynthetic ocean bacteria) in the Chisholm lab, and will be part of MIT’s iGEM project studying SAR-CoV-2 using cloud-based laboratories. 

Kayla Suarez: Treasurer

Hi everyone, I’m Kayla Suarez! I’m a 2024 majoring in Course 20 from Miami, Florida. I’m interested in diving deeper into the field of immunology and immunoengineering. I’m currently UROPing in the Bryson Lab where I am studying how SLAMF7 and other SLAM receptors affect the immune response concerning tuberculosis. Outside of the lab, I am also the Facilities Co-Chair for Maseeh Hall and participate in SWE and SUBE. I’m excited to be a part of this growing passionate community and can’t wait to meet everyone!

Melody Wu: Collaborations Director

Hi, I am a 2022 majoring in Biological Engineering and minoring in design. In 2016, I participated in iGEM with my high school team, Alverno, researching methods to reduce the effects of supercoiling in multi-genetic bacterial circuits. During my time at MIT, I have worked in the Housman lab identifying genetic modifiers for Huntington’s and their effect on Huntington’s with designed CRISPRi and looking at promoter construction and its impacts on activation or repression of gene expression. I was also part of MIT’s 2019 iGEM team engineering immune cell swarms and creating a synthetic biology toolbox for chemokine genetic circuits, and am an After iGEM 2020 North America Ambassador. Outside of the lab, I enjoy creating art to visually explain the jargon of science (but also just for fun), trying new foods from around the world, and exploring new places. I love thinking about global sustainable development and health as part of MIT’s only living-learning community, iHouse, and as part of the Planetary Health Alliance, Terrascope, and MIT’s Global Health Alliance. I’m excited to get the BioMaker Space up and running and bringing more people into it! It was exciting to co-chair the space in 2020 with Jenny, and it’s amazing we got through the pandemic as a community— looking forward to see where this year’s exec team takes us in 2021!!

Alexandra Wolff: Publicity Director

Howdy y’all! My name is Alexandra Wolff and I am a 2023 from Houston, Texas. I am majoring in Biological Engineering with a minor in Creative Writing. For me, the Biomaker Space is a place to experiment shamelessly in the field of biology with a supportive community of like-minded individuals. As for my research passion, I am primarily interested in the field of immunotherapy and the intersection of cancer biology but just like to learn more about bio in general. At MIT, I UROPed in the Koch Institute and back in Houston I interned at MDAnderson and the McGovern Medical Institute at UT Health. Through these experiences, I not only learned the basics of conducting scientific research but also that I really like working in a wet lab and find it lowkey relaxing once I get into the routine. After undergrad, I want to go to veterinary school and apply what I’ve learned through research to animal health as well. 

Amanda Mei: Publicity Director & Website Director

Hey hey hey! I’m Amanda Mei (she/her), a 2024 from Northern New Jersey. I am currently UROPing in the Bryson Lab studying the effects of antimicrobials on Mycobacterium smegmatis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis‘s permeability. During high school, I did research over the summer in the infectious diseases and microbiology labs at the Weill-Cornell Medical College in NYC also studying M. smeg and M. tuberculosis, kick-starting my interest in infectious diseases and microbiology, particularly virology and host-pathogen interactions. I look forward to be a bigger part of the biomaking community, being in the Huang-Hobbs BioMaker Space, and sharing my passion for biomaking with the MIT community.

Jenny Gao: Project Liaison

Hi frens, I’m Jenny, a 2022 majoring in biological engineering, and minoring in Applied International Studies. I’m one of those weird people who actually enjoy pipetting and lab bench work (come talk to me about pipette tip refilling!) My primary focus is tissue and immune engineering, specifically their application to the medical field. I’ve UROPed in BioMakers, working on the Biobots workshop (which is currently being used in the Mens et Manus module). In summer 2019 I did MIT-India, and I spent the summer at NCBS, a stem cell and basic biology research institute in Bangalore, India working on the role of epigenetics on the wound-healing process. I am currently UROPing in the lab of Dr. Galit Frydman working on the manuka honey microneedle project. I’m always down to talk about funky fresh biology and hot research!

Victoria Yang: Social Chair

Hello! I am Victoria, a current first year from Concord, New Hampshire. I am a prospective course 20 major and course 6 minor. I joined the BioMaker student group because of my interest in genetic technology. I am also interested in multimedia, such as editing audio and video. In the fall semester, I participated in the BioMaker TV UROP, where we made videos teaching interesting biotechnology concepts such as DNA origami through drawings and animations. I look forward to becoming more involved with the BioMakers group and the MIT BioMaker Space!

BioMakers General Officers

None at the moment! But this could be you 🙂

Managers of the BioMaker Space

Justin Buck, PhD: MIT Instructor & BioMaker Space Manager 

Dr. Buck is a “Busineerist” (Businessman + Engineer + Scientist = Busineerist™); he is a life-long entrepreneur, engineer by training, and a scientist by [fortunate] accident.

Justin was a co-founder of Cambrian Innovation, Inc., an environmental product and service company specializing in biological wastewater treatment for the industrial food and beverage market.  Justin served as the CTO of Cambrian Innovation for 12 years, and at various times in the company history, he led the R&D, Engineering, and Field Operations departments.  Justin also managed the company intellectual property portfolio and serves on the Board of Directors.  Justin stepped down from his full-time role at Cambrian Innovation in 2018 to pursue other interests, and in 2019 joined the Departments of Biological Engineering and Chemical Engineering at MIT as an Instructor, primarily focused on directing the new campus BioMakerspace.

Justin received his BS in Chemical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines and his PhD in Biological Engineering from MIT.  In addition to his roles at Cambrian Innovation, Justin has held roles across the spectrum of engineering activities ranging from AutoCAD draftsman, to plant small project improvement (TICA) engineer at Dow Chemical, to Process Engineer in the Oil and Gas Group at Washington Group International (later acquired by URS Corporation and then AECOM).

Photo of Justin Buck.