JBEI participates at 2019 East Bay STEM Career Awareness Day

East Bay STEM Career Awareness Day took place on May 16 in Emeryville. At this annual event, local businesses and organizations collaborated to provide activities that provided insight into potential careers in STEM to 200 students from schools in Berkeley, Emeryville, Richmond, and Oakland. The event was hosted by the Institute for STEM Education at California State University, East Bay in partnership with Bayer, Wareham Development, the East Bay EDA, the City of Emeryville, and the City of Berkeley. We thank the JBEI volunteers  that participated at this event: Deepika Awasthi, Irina Silva, Nicole Ing, Peter Otoupal, and Tina Wang.

iCLEM Cohort Concludes Summer Research at JBEI

The Introductory College Level Experience in Microbiology (iCLEM), the Joint BioEnergy Institute’s flagship outreach program, concluded last week with a celebration which included a students’ presentation and a poster presentation by the teachers who assisted the program. Photos of the celebration are available online. Check out also the Twitter campaign in which the students shared highlights of their summer experience at JBEI.

JBEI Holds Spring Undergraduate Poster Session

Undergraduates who have interned at JBEI this Spring participated at a poster presentation and celebration on May 4. The students presented results of their JBEI related research. Sixteen posters and two talks were presented to the JBEI community.

From left: Mentor Sam Curran with mentee Marian-Joy Baluyot, recipient of ‘Best Verbal Presentation’, mentee Ravi Lal, recipient of ‘Best Poster’, with mentor Amin Zargar.

The undergraduates were judged for their presentation and poster making skills. This year, two students from the Biofuels and Bioproducts Division won awards: Ravi Lal won for ‘Best Poster’ and Marian-Joy Baluyot won for ‘Best Verbal Presentation’.

The following students presented seminar talks:

  • Miranda Werts (mentor: Amin Zargar)
  • Joyce Luk (mentor: Megan Garber)

And the students below presented posters:

  • Angela Fang (mentor: Xi Wang)
  • Brenda Wang (mentor: Robin Herbert)
  • Brian Laus (mentor: Maren Wehrs)
  • Gianina Wicaksono (mentor: Megan Garber)
  • Irene Kim (mentor: Laure Leynaud-Kieffer)
  • Jadie Moon (mentor: Maren Wehrs)
  • Jennifer Gorman (mentor: Raphael Gabriel)
  • Jessica Wang (mentor: Amin Zargar)
  • Julie Lake (mentor: Sam Curran)
  • Marian-Joy Baluyot (mentor: Sam Curran)
  • Maya Ramamurthy (mentor: Connie Bailey)
  • Michael Doane (mentor: Blake Simmons/Carolina Barcelos)
  • Ravi Lal (mentor: Amin Zargar)
  • Reo Yamanaka (mentor: Yan Liang)
  • Ronald Kam (mentor: Jackie Blake-Hedges)
  • Will Sharpless (mentor: Mitch Thompson)




JBEI promotes bioenergy at 2017 Solano Stroll

Organized by the cities of Albany and Berkeley in California, the Solano Avenue Stroll is the East Bay’s largest street festival with an estimated 250,000 participants visiting from all over the west coast. As per JBEI’s yearly tradition, its volunteers participate at the Stroll on September 10. In collaboration with Berkeley Lab, JBEI volunteers promoted JBEI’s mission and research, and answered the questions from many local residents who wanted to learn more about biofuels and bioproducts.

We thank our volunteers for taking time to volunteer at this event: Andria Rodrigues, Annabel Large, Jessica Trinh, Kosuke Iwai and Robin Herbert.



Biotech Partners Recognizes Irina Silva as Exceptional Mentoring Partner

On Wednesday, May 31, Biotech Partners honored Irina Silva, Communications and Outreach Manager for the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), for her outstanding support of their internship program. Biotech Partners is a non-profit with the mission of educating underserved youth in the Bay Area with personal, academic, and professional development experiences that increase participation in higher education and access to fulfilling science careers. Last year, Silva served as a mentor partner, organizing development activities and internship opportunities for 7 students at JBEI and the Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU). “We are opening the door to students who may not think of themselves as future scientists,” said Silva. “At the end of their internships, the students leave as confident individuals with solid lab and professional skills.”

(pictured, L to R: Shabir, Silva, and Johnson)

Silva, who has been involved with Biotech Partners for three years, was recognized as Exceptional Mentoring Partner. Skylar Johnson & Emara Shabir, a Berkeley High School student who interned at JBEI’s Fuels Synthesis Division last summer, presented the award at the Biotech Partners’ 5th Biennial Gala Celebration in Oakland . Since it was founded in 1993, Biotech Partners has provided this type of hands-on biotech experience for over 2500 students, and boast a 100% high school graduation rate for members of their Biotech Academy. “Many of our interns have gone on to pursue post-secondary studies, including local community colleges and UC system schools, “said Silva. “It has been very rewarding to see them mature and feel empowered to pursue their dreams.”

JBEI’s Vy Ngo Awarded Grace Fimognari Memorial Prize

Vy Ngo, student assistant with JBEI’s Feedstocks Division was awarded the Grace Fimognari Memorial Prize during UC Berkeley’s Molecular & Cell Biology (MCB) 2017 Commencement. The Prize established in 1969 is awarded to outstanding graduating senior in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) emphasis of the MCB major. Ngo was mentored by Jenny Mortimer, JBEI’s Director of Plant Systems Biology, initially through Berkeley Lab’s Community College Internship (CCI) program in 2015 and then completed the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program in 2016. She continued to intern at JBEI as she transitioned to UC Berkeley.

Spring 2017 Undergraduate Poster Session Held at JBEI

From left: Undergraduates students Nikit Paterl and Linda Xu (Fuels Synthesis Division)

JBEI’s spring 2017 undergraduate poster session and celebration took place on May 5. The participant undergraduate students are currently enrolled at UC Berkeley and were given the opportunity to work in lab projects related to JBEI’s research program.

As part of their internship at JBEI they had to either present a poster or oral presentation during their first semester and once every subsequent year in order to receive an “A” grade in their research course.

This year 21 posters were presented and the students did a great job in making the link between their internship research goals and the industry’s challenges.

From left: Mentor Laure Leynaud-Kieffer with undergraduate Irene Kim (Deconstruction Division)

The poster session included a competition. Maya Ramamurthy (Deconstruction Division) won Best Poster Design and Yvette Tran (Fuels Synthesis Division) won Best Verbal Presentation.

To learn more about research experiences at JBEI visit this page.

From left: Maya Ramamurthy, Deconstruction Division, winner of Best Poster Design and Yvette Tran, Fuels Synthesis Division, winner of Best Verbal Presentation.




JBEI Participates at East Bay STEM Career Awareness Day

JBEI researchers and staff participated at the annual East Bay STEM Career Awareness Day on April 27, 2017, at Wareham Development’s Aquatic Park Center in West Berkeley, home to Berkeley Lab’s Biosciences Operations @ Berkeley and several Area research groups.

The event is led by Cal State University East Bay’s Institute for STEM Education in partnership with local businesses and organizations, and is aimed at providing insight into potential STEM careers and educational opportunities in the region. Three hundred high school students from Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland and Richmond engaged in activities around this year’s theme:, “What problem(s) are you trying to solve?” Students had the opportunity to network with a variety of STEM professionals during tours, a working lunch and exhibitor tabling.

A team from JBEI that included Amin Zargar, Irina Silva, Jessica Trinh, Morgann Reilly, Timothy Lease and Veronica Benites, participated at the networking lunch. They worked with the students to map out their own career paths from high school aspirations to their current jobs and discussed what it means to be a professional.  During the exhibitor tabling the JBEI team showcased the institute’s advanced biofuels pipeline and shared career advice and internship resources.

JBEI Holds Fall Undergraduate Poster Session

JBEI held an undergraduate research poster session on December 9 to celebrate the end of the semester and highlight the great research of all its undergraduates.


From left: Vy Ngo (Feedstocks Division) winner of Best Poster and Danika Nimlos (Fuels Synthesis) winner of Best Oral Presentation.

A contest was held for best poster and best oral presentation. All undergraduates put a lot of work in their research and poster, and did a terrific job in presenting. The judges had a difficult time selecting winners but in end Vy Ngo (Feedstocks Division) won Best Poster and Danika Nimlos (Fuels Synthesis) won Best Oral Presentation.

JBEI hosts many undergraduates throughout the school year. Mentored by JBEI scientists, the students are given the opportunity to work in the lab on projects related to JBEI’s research program, and learn about industry’s current challenges and opportunities.


Rohith Khrishna (Fuels Synthesis Division)


From left: Anisa Azad, Eric Yu, Brian Laus and Niket Kulkarni (Fuels Synthesis Division).