Members

Arjun Khakhar

Assistant professor, Department of Biology

Email: khakhar@colostate.edu

Bio: I am passionate about fighting global hunger and malnutrition. My major hobbies are cooking, making art, and reading. Science fiction is my favorite genre and I love that my job gives me the opportunity to bring some of the things I have read about closer to reality. I grew up in Mumbai, India and have been working in the field of synthetic biology since 2015. 

Tawni Bull

Postdoctoral Fellow

Email: tawni.bull@colostate.edu

Bio: I was born and raised on the Western Slope in Colorado where I helped with our family farm. Seeing the difficulties of farming first-hand, I became passionate about improving agricultural crops and practices to help benefit farmers. I received my PhD from UC Davis in Horticulture and Agronomy studying the genetic loci important for in vitro regeneration and developing methods for improved regeneration in lettuce. I love to read thriller/suspense novels and to go on weekend adventures with my husband and our two corgis, Kya and Luna.

Kevin Morey

Research Scientist

Email: kevin.moreyl@colostate.edu

Bio: I am a Colorado native who grew up in the town of Windsor. I got a degree in Biology as an undergraduate here at CSU and got my PhD in Molecular Biology from New Mexico State. I am a highly accomplished plant molecular biologist who is applying this expertise to the emerging field of plant synthetic biology. I have mainly worked on applicational projects involving characterizing cis acting elements for synthetic plant promoters, plant biosensors, biopolymer production, protein overexpression using agroinfiltration, proteoglycan expression in Nicotiana benthamiana and toehold switch biosensors in cell free extracts.

Bjorn Thune-Larsen

Lab manager

Email: bjorn.thune-larsen@colostate.edu

Bio: I am a passionate and excited researcher, dedicating my studies and exploration to symbiotic relationships between biological kingdoms. The twists and turns of life have led me through a bachelors degree in controlled environment horticulture and research regarding concepts from fungal bioremediation to agrivoltaics to coral bleaching. I seek to be the most well versed scientist I can be and right now I hope to contribute to world problems through synthetic biology.

Lauren Farina

PhD student

Email: lauren.farina@colostate.edu

Bio: I am interested in the improvement of agricultural crops and systems. After working in plant breeding for agriculture, I look forward to approaching such topics from a synthetic biology perspective. I grew up in the Midwest in Wisconsin and Minnesota and am excited to be close to the mountains because I love skiing and hiking. 

Max Combest

PhD student

Email: max.combest@colostate.edu

Bio: I am fascinated by all things in biology, but my curiosity has led me to focus on plants and their viruses. I want to learn how to use viruses as tools to study plant biology and develop technologies that can be used to address pressing issues facing humanity, particularly malnutrition. My undergraduate studies were in biochemistry at the University of Kansas, and I received a Master’s in botany and plant pathology from Oregon State. I believe that synthetic biology has the transformative potential to bring novel developments to biotechnology and agriculture, and I’m more than excited to be involved with this lab. 

Dylan Moss

PhD student

Email: Dylan.Moss2@colostate.edu

Bio: I became interested in synthetic biology while taking a seminar course with Professor Jennifer Doudna at the University of California, Berkeley, where I completed my undergrad in Integrative Biology. This seminar made me very excited about the potential of CRISPR-Cas-based tools, and I subsequently became involved at Steven Jacobsen's Lab at UCLA where I worked on developing tools to manipulate DNA methylation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Prior to this experience I worked at UCSF's Children's Hospital of Oakland Research Institute with UCB Emeritus Bruce Ames where I studied the epigenetic effects of Vitamin D. I am very excited about the unique opportunities that synthetic biology provides for us to manipulate genomes and gene expression, and am thrilled to be working at Arjun's Lab. 

Noah Hoglund

PhD student

Email: noah.hoglund@colostate.edu

Bio: Ever since I was a little child, I dreamt of flying and that dream has been amplified by my past experiences of flying helicopters in the US Army. I am now working towards completing my undergraduate degree in biology with the intent of graduating and immediately transitioning to a PhD. in cellular and molecular biology. This is in pursuit of one day becoming an astronaut and studying science in space.


Dahlia Kopycienski

Masters student

Email: dahlia.kopycienski@colostate.edu

Bio: My passions include solving global conservation issues through synthetic biology. I grew up in Maui, Hi, where I witnessed the rapid degradation of coral reefs. I believe synthetic biology can be used to tackle global issues such as climate induced coral bleaching, and many more. My goal is to increase my knowledge on engineering mutualistic systems in order to contribute to research in conserving symbiotic organisms in nature. Outside of my studies at CSU I spend my time painting, caring for my plants, cooking, and reading fantasy. 


Sam Sutton

Undergraduate Researcher

Email: sam.sutton@colostate.edu

Bio: I am an undergraduate student at Colorado State University studying biology. I have always wanted to drive science forward and help make the world a better place. The Arjun Lab feels like a great place to do these things. For my future I am considering going to graduate school or going into professional research. My interests include skiing and playing Dungeons and Dragons. Working on genetic modification feels like using transmutation magic and I think that is super cool. 




Victoria Silva

Undergraduate Researcher

Email: victoria.silva@colostate.edu

Bio: I'm a biochemistry undergraduate earning minors in chemistry, microbiology, and anthropology. I am interested in pursuing a medical career that integrates scientific advances with a quality patient experience and equitability toward traditionally underserved communities. Puzzles and problem solving have always been a passion of mine and I love applying that curiosity in the lab. I do hair and makeup as a cosmetologist outside of school and am grateful to have the creative outlet. In my free time I enjoy my cats, video and board games,  astronomy, watching anime, and DIY house projects.




Sophia Seib

Undergraduate Researcher

Email: sophia.seib@colostate.edu

Bio: I am an undergraduate studying Biochemistry here at CSU! I am a Colorado native so I love being here in Fort Collins. My dream is to advance my knowledge of genetic engineering and be able to apply those skills to climate change solutions. I have always been passionate about genetics and climate change so I am thrilled I get to combine these by working in the Arjun Lab! In the future I am thinking about getting my PhD and trying to combine potential biofuels and genetic engineering. When I’m not in the lab you can find me; thrifting, sewing, hiking, and watching movies!




Rebecca Johnson

Undergraduate Researcher

Email: sophia.seib@colostate.edu

Bio: I am a biology student at Colorado State with a passion for environmental remediation and ecosystem restoration. I hope to one day use plants and fungi to mitigate the effects of climate change and remove contaminants from areas with high industrial activity and plastic pollution. In doing so, I aim to increase equitable access to nature and agriculture in regions that face environmental inequality. I am very excited to be part of the lab, as I’ve always dreamed of studying plants and fungi for my career. In my free time I enjoy sewing, gardening, watching horror movies, hiking, and rock climbing.




Josh Conlin

Undergraduate Researcher

Email: josh.conlin@colostate.edu

Bio: I am an undergraduate pursuing a major in biological sciences with a botany concentration and minors in both chemistry and horticulture. My goal is to go straight into graduate school after getting my diploma to further my comprehension of synthetic biology. I am very grateful to have been able to get into research early on in my academic career at CSU as it has allowed me to grow, learn, and get hands on experience for something I think is really fascinating. When not in lab or studying for classes, I'm usually found figuring out how to climb rocks, sitting and enjoying live music events, or tinkering around on the piano at home.




Lily Palmer

Undergraduate Researcher

Email: lilly.palmer@colostate.edu

Bio: I am an undergraduate student here at CSU studying Biology. My specific interests are in biotechnology, synthetic biology, and pathology. I’ve always had a passion for science and human health. My goal is to pursue graduate studies focusing on using synthetic biology to address the mystery of diseases . Outside of lab and school I love hiking with my dog Sailor, and fishing with my friends. I am also passionate about the arts, particularly live theatre, dance, music and various forms of visual art. 




William Byrd

Undergraduate Researcher

Email: William.Byrd@colostate.edu

Bio: I am an undergraduate student studying biology here at CSU. My primary interest in biology is the utilization of gene editing techniques, particularly in food science and the use of plants for unique applications. Outside of school my passions are cooking, cars, and reading. In the future, I hope to apply the knowledge and skill that I acquire from the Arjun lab to a variety of industry applications, such as pharmaceutical production or fermentation science.




Mya Haynes

Undergraduate Researcher

Email: mya.haynes@colostate.edu

Bio:  I am an undergraduate student currently majoring in biological sciences with a minor in biomedical sciences. Some of my interests are plant genetics and protein synthesis, which is what drew me to this lab. After completing my undergrad, I plan on going into dentistry. 






Bella Plath

Undergraduate Researcher

Email: bella.plath@colostate.edu

Bio: I’m an undergraduate pursuing a dual degree in Biomedical Engineering and Chemical + Biological Engineering. My interest in biological research was fueled after going on a research field trip to study leafcutter ant antibiotics in Costa Rica. I’m excited to apply this interest to work towards finding solutions to global hunger and food insecurity. In my free time, I enjoy playing volleyball, pickleball, tennis, and spikeball






Hayley Howell

Undergraduate Researcher

Email: hayley.howell@colostate.edu

Bio: I am a chemical and biological engineering undergraduate student here at Colorado State University. I enjoy science because there is always something new to learn. Although I haven’t decided quite yet what I want my career to look like after graduation, my ultimate goal is to help people and the planet. Outside the realm of science, I also enjoy reading, yoga, spending time outdoors, and snowboarding