Operating at the interface between synthetic biology and plant carbon metabolism, we aim to make a positive impact in the world and look forward to working with you!

Tim Chen

graduate student

Ignacio Sparrow

graduate student

is13 [at] illinois [dot] edu

My favorite thing about science is the feeling I get when everything goes according to plan and your results look fantastic. I am passionate about helping the fight against climate change, which is a core aspect of our lab. If I am not in the lab, you can catch me in the gym with the powerlifting club, or watching an old film

Dhananjay Gotarkar

postdoctoral researcher

gotarkar [at] illinois [dot] edu

Agricultural biotechnologist by profession, philosopher and traveler by passion. Scientific interest in using modern technologies for crop improvement against adverse climatic conditions for fulfilling the future food demands. Soccer player, a cook, likes to be outdoor on weekends.

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Steven Burgess

principal investigator

sjb287 [at] illinois [dot] edu

Synthetic Biology enthusiast, brit, cat dad, motivator and baker with a sweet tooth. Favorite parts of the job include mentoring students and discussing new ideas and approaches.

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Master Baker

Responsible for morale, expert at making donuts and cookies


  • Chandra Davies, REU Student (2022)
  • Shikha Adhikari, Undergraduate Assistant (2021-22)
  • Anbarasu Karthikaichamy, Postdoctoral researcher (2020-2021)
  • Lynn Doran, Research technician (2021)
  • Faith Losbanes, Undergraduate Assistant (2021)
  • Emmanuelle Newlin, Undergraduate Assistant (2021)
  • Khaliyah Williams, IB299 student (2021)
  • Kyle McClintock Thornton, IB299 student (2021)
  • Jung Woo Lee, Undergraduate Assistant (2021)
  • Maddie Burke, Undergraduate Assistant (2021)
  • Meghan Burns, Undergraduate Assistant (2020-21)
  • Jacob Milo, Undergraduate Assistant (2020-2021)
  • Meghan Blaszynski, Undergraduate Assistant (2020-2021)
  • Kely Enriques, Undergraduate Assistant (2020-2021)

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