International Conference on Plant Synthetic Biology and Bioengineering

December 16-18, 2016

Presented by the Society of Biological Engineering (SBE), this conference will bring together scientist and engineers from universities, industries and government working in all aspects of Plant Synthetic Biology and Plant Bioengineering. 

Technical Program

This conference was supported by the Department of Energy (DOE).

Plant synthetic biology uses enabling approaches from engineering and plants as platforms to produce self-sustaining and photosynthetic driven traits and bio-production. The emerging field relies on computational modeling and mathematical analysis to design predictable biological function and sustainable traits. As such the field integrates and encompasses broad applications including biofuels, agriculture, bio-materials, biopharmaceuticals, sustainability and more.  All aspects of plant synthetic biology will be discussed in this conference from tools to design predictable functions and precision genome editing, to designed photosynthesis, plant bioengineering techniques, and rational design of novel plant traits.  

Left to right: Dr. June Medford, Dr. Gabriel Levesque-Tremblay and Dr. Dominique Loqué

Left to right: Dr. June Medford, Dr. Gabriel Levesque-Tremblay and Dr. Dominique Loqué

Press Presence

  • Lei Lei, Nature Plants – Nature Publishing Group  (Lei Lei Bio)

Session Topics:

  • Agricultural Sense and Adaptation Systems for Stress Response
  • Design and Predictive Function of Plant Gene Circuits
  • Engineering of Bioenergy traits
  • Plant foundry: Biopolymers, Biopharmaceuticals and Medically Effective Secondary Metabolites  (Vaccines, antibodies, and metabolites)
  • Plant genome editing (CRISPR systems)
  • Plastid Engineering: artificial photosynthesis, metabolites and nitrogen fixation
  • Rational Design and mining of natural systems for plant synthetic biology components
  • Sustainable Environmental Systems and Photosynthetic Improvements 

Conference Chairs:

  • Dominique Loqué, Joint BioEnergy Institute, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • June Medford, Colorado State University

Organizing Committee inlcudes:

  • Ashok Prasad, Colorado State University
  • Birger Lindberg Møller, University of Copenhagen
  • Chris Voigt, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Jennifer Nemhauser, University of Washington
  • Neal Stewart, University of Tennessee
  • Molly Megraw, Oregon State University
  • Sarah O'Connor, John Innes Center

Plenary Speakers includes:

  • Adam Arkin, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Chris Voigt, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Invited Speakers includes:

  • Mauricio Antunes, Colorado State University
  • Marc-André D'Aoust, Medicago
  • Poul Erik Jensen, University of Copenhagen
  • Ashok Prasad, Colorado State University
  • Dayal Saran, Ginkgo bioworks
  • Elizabeth Sattely, Stanford University
  • Pamela Silver, Harvard University

Featured Speakers

Mauricio Antunes

Dr. Antunes graduated from a PhD at Purdue University and is now Assistant Professor at Colorado State University. He is interested in developing artificially-controlled genetic networks to program plants and plant cells to perform desired functions. Synthetic genetic switches can be introduced into plants to precisely control gene expression, rewiring natural signaling and metabolic pathways, or generating novel traits. Engineering these systems to behave according to specific inputs can serve both basic research and field-applied purposes, allowing applications that range from enhancing...Read more

Adam Arkin

Adam Arkin is the Dean A. Richard Newton Memorial Professor in the Dept of Bioengineering, University of California, Berkeley and Senior Faculty Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He and his laboratory develop experimental and computational technologies for discovery, prediction, control and design of microbial and viral functions and behaviors in environmental contexts.

He is the director of the Center for the Utilization of Biological Engineering in Space ( He is also the chief scientist of...Read more

Marc-André D'Aoust

Marc-André D’Aoust, PhD Vice President, Research & Innovation Dr. D’Aoust joined Medicago in July 1999 as Team Leader, research and development. He was successively Project Leader, Product development and Director, Research and Innovation prior to his appointment as Vice President, Research and Innovation. He was closely involved in the development of Medicago technological platform as well as in the development of the capacity to produce virus-like particles and bio therapeutics in alfalfa and Nicotiana benthamiana. He is co-inventor on more than 330 patent or patent...Read more

Poul Erik Jensen

Poul Erik Jensen's group has a strong expertise within photosynthesis research focusing on photosystem I (PSI) and chloroplast biology. The ability to manipulate photosynthetic chloroplasts in order to tap into the light harvesting system of plants and to utilize this power for the production of valuable bioactive natural products is of great interest both for academia and industry due to the potential of an efficient biosynthetic production of e.g. anti-cancer pharmaceuticals.Read more

Ashok Prasad

Ashok Prasad is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.  Ashok has had a somewhat unusual career path. After a BS in physics, Ashok moved to Economics and graduated with an MA in 1987  from the Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University. He then spent the next 14 years teaching economics in an undergraduate college of Delhi University in India. However his childhood dream of becoming a scientist never quite left him, and he finally decided to go back to it. In 2001 he left his tenured job and...Read more

Dayal Saran

Dayal Saran, PhD is Program Director at Ginkgo Bioworks. He holds a bachelor degree in chemistry and a Ph.D. in biochemistry. He started his career with a post-doctoral fellowship under the direction of Nobel Laureate Hamilton O. Smith at the Synthetic Biology and Bioenergy Group at the J Craig Venter Institute. Prior to Ginkgo, he was Program Lead at Evolva where he managed and directed projects on biosynthesis of plant terpenes.  He also worked as a research scientist at Codexis Inc, for several years, engineering fungal and yeast strains for the saccharification of agricultural...Read more

Elizabeth Sattely

Dr. Elizabeth Sattely, an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Stanford, began her appointment in January 2011 after completing a Damon Runyon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard Medical School in the laboratory of Christopher T. Walsh. Dr. Sattely’s postdoctoral research focused on elucidating microbial pathways for making complex natural products. She earned her PhD in synthetic chemistry in 2007 from Boston College with Amir H. Hoveyda, where she developed new methods for small molecule synthesis using molybdenum-catalyzed olefin metathesis. The Sattely lab focuses on the...Read more

Pamela Silver

Pamela Silver is the Elliot T and Onie H Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology in the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. She is also a member of the Harvard University Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Her group combines lessons from Nature to the design of new organisms for both discovery and applications.Read more

Chris Voigt

Professor Voigt obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics at the California Institute of Technology.Read more


Proceedings of the International Conference on Plant Synthetic Biology and Bioengineering are now available: