When you think about life after Cal, do you have a clear picture of your career options? Whatever your answer, join our conversation about your next steps with fourteen wonderful alumni of the Plant & Microbial Biology (PMB) department. Representing a range of industries, including healthcare, food, regulatory policy, bio tech start-up and more, our alums are excited to share their experiences and answer your job-related questions. In partnership with the Career Center, you can hear how their time and training at PMB shaped their decision-making.
*Awesome perk alert* The first 50 RCNR students to join will receive a Rausser College water bottle.
- Nicole Abreu, Science & Technology Advisor, 10x Genomics, Microbiology, PhD '15
- Ian Van Trump, Senior Managing Scientist, Exponent, Inc., Microbiology, PhD '08
- Jate Samathivathanachai, Senior Director, Business Development, Horizon Therapeutics, Molecular Environmental Biology, BS '01
- Rachel Li, Co-founder, Berkeley Yeast, Plant Biology, PhD '18
- Christopher Duncan-Lewis, Associate Scientist, 23andMe, Molecular and Cell Biology, PhD '20
- Ouwei Wang, CTO, Pow Bio, Microbiology, PhD '18
- Mikel Shybut, Senior Communications Officer, California Council on Science and Technology, Plant Biology, PhD '15
- Remi Cohen, CEO, Domaine Carneros, Molecular and Cellular biology, BS '98
- Florian Widner, Principal Scientist, Novartis, Chemistry, Postdoc '09
- Aaron Schaller, CSO, MeliBio, Inc., MCB/PMB Virology & RNA Biochemistry, PhD '19
- Anabel Rivas, Senior Nursery Applied Research and Agronomy Manager, Driscoll's, Plant Biology and Genetics, BS '11
- William Albers, Research Assistant I at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Genetics and Plant Biology, 'BS 20
- Katie Smoot, Stanford University, Lab Technician, Genetics and Plant Biology, BS '19
- Siwen Deng, Cofounder & CTO, Sundial Foods, Plant Biology, PhD '19
Nicole Abreu, Science & Technology Advisor, 10x Genomics, Microbiology, PhD '15
Nicole earned her PhD in Arash Komeili's lab and did her postdoc in Michi Taga's lab in the PMB department. Afterwards, Nicole started her career in the biotech industry as a scientist at Resilient Biotics, an Illumina Accelerator startup company, before joining 10x Genomics. At 10x Genomics, Nicole enables customer science as a Science & Technology Advisor.
Ian Van Trump, Senior Managing Scientist, Exponent, Inc., Microbiology, PhD '08
Ian Van Trump is a Senior Managing Scientist at Exponent, Inc. where he provides scientific and regulatory support services for a variety of products regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including disinfectants and medical devices incorporating antimicrobial technologies. Ian has also assisted with the research, development, testing, and regulatory approval of commercial biopesticide products derived from bacteria, viruses, or biochemicals and intended to treat agricultural plant diseases. Much of his work involves building scientific consensus between regulators and the regulated community to help bring safe, effective, and innovative products to market.
Jate Samathivathanachai, Senior Director, Business Development, Horizon Therapeutics, Molecular Environmental Biology, BS '01
Jate Samathivathanachai is Senior Director of Business Development and M&A at Horizon Therapeutics. Prior to joining Horizon, Jate spent seven years in South East Asia as Country Head for Allexcel Trading | Red Bull Malaysia and Executive Director of Strategy & Investments for Allswell Trading | Red Bull Singapore. Before moving to Asia, Jate spent close to a decade in the Global Healthcare Investment Banking groups of Evercore, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch in the San Francisco Bay Area focusing on capital raising and M&A for life sciences clients. Jate serves on the Advisory Board of the Rausser College of Natural Resources at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a Bio Track Advisor at Berkeley SkyDeck and a member of Life Science Angels and The Berkeley Angel Network. Jate has an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management | Northwestern University, a B.S. in Molecular Environmental Biology from the University of California, Berkeley and is a Certified Licensing Professional.
Rachel Li, Co-founder, Berkeley Yeast, Plant Biology, PhD '18
Rachel came to the brewing industry while at graduate school at UC Berkeley. Working in Professor Jay Keasling’s laboratory, she developed brewer’s yeast strains that produce hoppy flavors and aromas during fermentation. In 2017, Rachel co-founded Berkeley Yeast to engineer new yeasts for better and more sustainable fermented beverages.
Christopher Duncan-Lewis, Associate Scientist, 23andMe, Molecular and Cell Biology, PhD '20
Chris was born to Caribbean immigrants in Brooklyn, New York before spending most of his childhood in Central Florida and obtaining a BA in Biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. He moved to the Bay Area in 2015 to complete his PhD in the Glaunsinger Lab at UC Berkeley, where he studied connections between mRNA decay and transcription in the contexts of viral infection and apoptosis (programmed cell death). Now as an Associate Scientist at 23andMe Therapeutics, Chris helps leverage the company’s genomic data to identify and develop novel therapeutics for the treatment of human disease.
Ouwei Wang, CTO, Pow Bio, Microbiology, PhD '18
Ouwei studied environmental microbiology in Professor Jonn Coates lab at Cal and Graduated in 2018 with a Ph.D. in Microbiology. His research was focused on continuous biomanufacturing and microbial contamination control. He developed a contamination control system that later became the core technology of his startup, Pow Bio, which received private venture investment and government funding. He is currently the CTO of Pow Bio.
Mikel Shybut, Senior Communications Officer, California Council on Science and Technology, Plant Biology, PhD '15
Mikel is the Senior Communications Officer at the California Council on Science and Technology, where he devises and executes CCST’s external communications plan and provides support to CCST projects and programs. He served as a 2017 CCST Science and Technology Policy Fellow, analyzing bills on the California State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. Prior to the fellowship and with funding through UC Berkeley’s CLEAR group, he worked at a Washington, D.C. nonprofit connecting journalists with relevant scientific experts. Mikel received his PhD in Plant Biology from UC Berkeley and his BA in Biological Chemistry and Russian from Grinnell College.
Remi Cohen, CEO, Domaine Carneros, Molecular and Cellular Biology, BS '98
Remi Cohen fell in love with plant biology and mycology during her undergraduate degree at UCB while working in Dr. Bruns lab. This caused her to decide to get her masters in viticulture and enology at UC Davis rather than go to medical school. After graduating, Remi worked as a viticulturist and vineyard manager at wineries in Napa Valley for a decade before moving into management. She is now the CEO of Domaine Carneros, a sparkling wine specialist in Napa. For many years, she hosted the UCB Mycology class at the winery she worked at since she’s kept in touch with Dr. Taylor and Dr. Bruns.
Florian Widner, Principal Scientist, Novartis, Chemistry, Postdoc '09
I am a Principal Scientist in Global Drug Development at Novartis. Our mission is to reimagine medicine. What that means to me in my daily work is translating research into efficient, robust and safe medicine for our patients. Broadening one's horizon and gaining new perspectives is key in this divers and fast changing environment. During my PhD in Austria and the UK as well as in my postdoc with Michi Taga in the PMB department at Berkeley I was fortunate to be trained in different scientific areas and be part of successful collaborations with unique people from various fields.
Aaron Schaller, CSO, MeliBio, Inc., MCB/PMB Virology & RNA Biochemistry, PhD '19
Aaron Schaller graduate from UC Berkeley in December 2019. Though he studied virology and RNA biochemistry during his PhD, his interest in exploring synthetic biology, biomaterials, food technology and entrepreneurship inspired him to network in these areas extensively. Aaron met his co-founder Darko Mandich at an event in San Francisco, and a few months later they founded MeliBio, Inc., the first company to use synthetic biology to create real honey without bees. Since graduating MeliBio from the Big Idea Ventures accelerator in October 2020, they are focused on building the company’s team and technology and raising their next funding round.
Anabel Rivas, Senior Nursery Applied Research and Agronomy Manager, Driscoll's, Plant Biology and Genetics, BS '11
Anabel has previously worked at Driscoll's as the Blackberry Production Manager where she was responsible for creating and executing a 5 year supply plan. She also led the commercialization efforts for Driscoll's blackberry varieties. Most recently, she worked with Driscoll's as the Senior Manager of Nursery Applied Research and Agronomy, where she worked on improving plant propagation techniques and efficiencies for new varieties coming through the genetic pipeline and then deploying that information through the nursery network across the US and Mexico. Anabel holds an MSc in plant science from Wageningen University in the Netherlands and a BSc in genetics and plant biology from the University of California, Berkeley.
William Albers, Research Assistant I at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, Genetics and Plant Biology, 'BS 20
I am working as a Research Assistant at the Salk Institute for the Harnessing Plants Initiative. This project aims to develop crops and plants that can sequester even more CO2 from the atmosphere into the plant's roots. I joined the Salk Institute directly after finishing my degree in Genetics and Plant Biology at UC Berkeley. During my time in UC Berkeley, I developed a Decal class called Fruits of the World, and I worked closely with PMB students and faculty through my time as a Peer Advising Leader (PAL) and as the president of Planty Social.
Katie Smoot, Stanford University, Lab Technician, Genetics and Plant Biology, BS '19
I studied Genetics and Plant Biology at UC Berkeley. I worked in the Baker lab for two years, completing my senior thesis project, and in the Niyogi lab for four months. I knew I was really interested in graduate school, but I wanted more experience working in lab. After graduating, I began working as a tech in Dr. Dominique Bergmann's lab studying plant development. I will begin my PhD at UC Berkeley in the fall, studying plant biology.
Siwen Deng, Cofounder & CTO, Sundial Foods, Plant Biology, PhD '19
Growing up in a rural agricultural town, Siwen’s passion has always been aiding world agriculture and food safety as they face environmental challenges. Her bachelor’s studies focused on plant science and plant pathology. She did her PhD in Coleman-Derr lab in PMB, where she studied the effect of plant host genetics on the root microbiome of Sorghum bicolor using genetic and genomic approaches. She cofounded Sundial Foods during her last year of grad school and after she graduated in 2019, she went to Switzerland for a year working in an R&D accelerator program and now she’s back to the Bay Area with the team and joined IndieBio. Siwen is the CTO of Sundial Foods.