Student & Postdoc Association (SPA)

EBRC's Student and Postdoc Association (SPA) represents many of the best and the brightest in our field, and are an important part of the EBRC community. SPA membership is open to all interested students and postdocs in EBRC.

Contact the Executive Committee at if you are interested in getting involved.

Cassandra Barrett (President & Policy and International Liaison)

Khalid Alam (Industry Liaison) is a postdoctoral fellow in the Lucks Lab at Northwestern University and cofounder of ChiTownBio, Chicagoland’s community biology lab. His research is focused on evolving and engineering RNA, and making it easier for others to do the same. As an industry liaison, Khalid is helping to coordinate site visits at EBRC retreats and fostering opportunities between industry members and the students and postdocs of EBRC. 

Ania Baetica (Membership Liaison)

Kathryn Brink (Mentorship Liaison)

Paul Carlson (Board Member & Technical Roadmapping Liaison) is a PhD student in the Lucks Lab. He uses high-throughput RNA structure probing to study natural and engineered RNA systems. As part of the SPA, Paul is responsible for organizing events and programs with EBRC industry partners.

Jason Fontana (Board Member & Internship Program Liaison)

Emily Hartman (Board Member)

Alyssa Henning (Policy Liaison & Security Liaison)

Bon Ikwuagwu (Board Member & Education Liaison) is a PhD student in the Tullman-Ercek Lab at Northwestern University. He is working on developing methods to engineer virus-like particles for applications in drug delivery. Bon is serving in his first year on the SPA board as Treasurer, and is responsible for the budget.

Do Soon Kim (Board Member & Industry Liaison)

Weston Knightlinger (Board Member)

Kersh Theva (Board Member) is a PhD student in Michelle Chang’s lab at UC Berkeley. He is investigating key enzymes in non-photosynthetic carbon fixation and applying this understanding to engineering both common and unconventional microbes for the production of target molecules from inorganic carbon sources. As part of the SPA, Kersh is responsible for managing the IAB-Student Mentoring program. 

The SPA fosters interaction among postdocs, students, and PIs across EBRC labs and institutions. We also promote students’ professional development. Our executive committee oversees and plans our activities, often working closely with EBRC staff to coordinate events at conferences and retreats.

Everyone working in a EBRC-affiliated lab is considered a member of our community. We often invite outside guests and potential new collaborators. EBRC has a “big tent” policy that allows for a diverse and inclusive research community that shares the goal of advancing the field for maximum benefit to researchers, our industry partners, and the general public. Each student and postdoc is encouraged to participate in SPA activities and is eligible to serve in a leadership or organizational role.