Joseph Heili, MS


Joseph Heili graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2011 with a B.S. in Biology and Plant Biology Minor. He spent four years working in the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory until 2016 when he completed his M.S. in Biology and moved to the Adamala-Engelhart Laboratory.
His areas of interest are based in microbial ecology with goals involving bioremediation, aquaponic and aquaculture biofiltration, as well as gut and soil microbiome management. His research will focus on bacterial quorum signaling, using liposomes as models to investigate methods of influencing bacterial population dynamics.
In his free time, Joseph enjoys snowboarding, brewing beer, volleyball, camping and carpentry.

Works on projects jointly with Adamala lab.

Nathaniel Gaut


Nathan received his B.S. in Human Biology at the University of California, San Diego in 2015. He began his research career as an undergraduate under the supervision of Dr. Huilin Zhou, studying mechanisms behind genomic instability of cancer cells. He later became inspired to pursue graduate programs with focus on synthetic biology and tool development.

In 2016, Nathan started graduate school at the University of Minnesota. He is working on developing synthetic minimal cells as a tool for a wide range of applications, from simplified models of cellular processes to highly modular bioreactors. In this research, he uses synthetic biology to re-engineer the machinery of life, to create new research tools and products.
Currently, he is studying interactions between RNA binding proteins and ribozymes, enabling new ways of synthetic cell gene regulation as well as a combinatorial fusion system for engineering complex genetic network interactions in synthetic minimal cells, with applications in metabolic engineering.
Works on projects jointly with Adamala lab.

Lauren Aufdembrink

PhD Candidate, MCDB&G





 Brock Cash, MS


Brock Cash graduated from Bethel University in 2012 with a B.S. in Chemistry.
He spent his undergraduate years working for Life-Science Innovations helping research novel vaccines for the poultry industry, and, upon graduation, worked in Quality Control and as an Electrician until pursuing an M.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology in 2015 at Saint Cloud State University. His thesis focused on using Yeast-Two Hybrid screens to discover and characterize putative protein partners of a suspected DNA licensing protein in Toxoplasma gondii, and graduated in late 2016.
He recently finished an internship with Life-Science Innovations exploring the application of Fluid Bed Coating for vaccine development. In 2016, Brock joined the Adamala-Engelhart Lab to work on current projects.
In his free time, Brock enjoys ordering himself and creating disorder around him (typically in the form of eating food), reading, music, and learning about history and its relation to geopolitics.

Tanner Hoog, MS

PhD student, MCDB&G




Jose Gomez-Garcia, PhD


Current whereabouts: Medical School in Tennessee.



Kei Takahashi, PhD


Liposomes and aptamers



Brent Heffron, PhD


Brent’s research concerns the effect of abundant cellular species on the binding behavior of small molecules to nucleic acids, towards a better understanding of binding of drugs to nucleic acids in vivo.

Works on projects jointly with Adamala lab.

Igor Popovich

Igor is an international undergraduate student from Kazakhstan and has A.S. in Biology. Igor has been showing his interest in biology since high school. During his high school period, he participated in various scientific Olympiads starting from Regional competitions to International competitions that gave him a strong fundamental knowledge on biology. Today, he is working on B.S. in Genetics, Cell Bio and Development and a minor in Biochemistry at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Igor joined the lab on September 2017. In general, Igor is interested in investigation of therapies and drugs against worldwide diseases, synthetic biology, stem cells and cancer. Currently, Igor is studying the effects of abundant cellular components on nucleic acids’ interactions with small molecule ligands to get a better understanding of interactions of small molecule ligands with DNA and RNA and to improve an understanding of these biopolymers from both a basic science and medical (drug design) perspective.


Ali Baydoun

Ali is a Lebanese-Australian International Student pursuing a B.S in Biology and a minor in Leadership. My research interests include; cell and disease biology, medical research and behavioral education research.
Other interests include: sports, Art, reading, music, Netflix and travel



Brady Spano




Deepanjan Panda, PhD

Organic synthesis