Meet the Panelists


Pramod Khargonekar

National Science Foundation assistant director for the Directorate of Engineering

Pramod Khargonekar is the National Science Foundation assistant director for the Directorate of Engineering, which invests in frontier engineering research and education, helping to develop the next-generation engineer while strengthening the national capacity for innovation. Khargonekar worked as the deputy director for technology at the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, and he currently serves as the Eckis professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Florida. His engineering research encompasses control systems theory and applications, smart grid and renewable energy, semiconductor manufacturing, and modeling and control of neural systems.


Eric Swalwell

Congressman representing California's 15th District

Eric Swalwell was elected to his seat in 2012 with a promise to bring new energy ideas to Congress, and he currently serves on the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Swalwell is also the ranking member of its subcommittee on energy, which oversees the Department of Energy's civilian research, development and demonstration programs that are vital to discovering clean, sustainable sources of energy. He also serves on the Committee on Homeland Security, protecting the country from man-made and natural disasters.


Jay Keasling

Director of Synberc, CEO of the Joint Bio Energy Institute, associate director at the Lawrence Berkley National Lab, professor of biochemical engineering at U.C. Berkley

Jay Keasling, who was named DISCOVER magazine's 2006 Scientist of the Year, received his bachelor's degree in chemistry and biology from the University of Nebraska, earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan and did postdoctoral work in biochemistry at Stanford University. In 1992, Keasling became an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is currently the Hubbard Howe Jr. distinguished professor of biochemical engineering. In addition to his work at the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center, Keasling is the chief executive officer at the Joint BioEnergy Institute and associate laboratory director of bioscience at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Keasling's research focuses on engineering microorganisms to produce useful chemicals.

Karmella Haynes

Assistant professor of biological and health systems engineering at Arizona State University

Karmella Haynes received her Ph.D. in molecular genetics at Washington University at St. Louis and is now assistant professor of biological health systems engineering at Arizona State University. Her research centers on engineering the network of proteins that interact with DNA to control the expression of inherited traits (epigenetics) with the aim of rationally designing new biological systems with predictable, reliable behavior, and replacing "magic bullet medicine" with "smart medicine." Haynes will share some of the applications of synthetic biology, then discuss how researchers are anticipating risk and engineering safety into their designs to mitigate risk.

Steve Evans

Research fellow at Dow AgroSciences

Steve Evans, who received a Ph.D. in microbial physiology from the University of Mississippi, is currently a research fellow at Dow AgroSciences, where his is responsible for identifying and acquiring differentiating biotechnology capabilities. In 1988, he joined Mycogen Corp. (now Dow AgroSciences), where he was involved in the development of several traits from the Mycogen pipeline. Before that, Evans worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to blend high-resolution chemical analysis with enzymology to research agricultural applications of biotechnology. Evans is a past chairman of the SynBERC Industrial Advisory Board and co-chair of the BIO Organization IES synthetic biology subteam. He is involved with efforts to develop more responsive regulatory frameworks for this emerging technology. Evans will discuss how federal investments in synthetic biology fields are creating new markets and applications that are fueling the bioeconomy.