Current Members


Peter Cavanagh
Operations Director
Peter Cavanagh is a junior studying Biochemistry and Biomedical Engineering Science. He is interested in pursuing interdisciplinary research efforts to solve pertinent problems in biology, chemistry, public health, and other areas. Peter does bio-analytical research in the Walt Lab, currently using microfluidics and nanotechnology to study variations in cell populations, and enzyme kinetics. He is passionate about developing new therapeutics, leading research teams, and educating and training student researchers. Peter also enjoys backpacking and volunteering as a WEMT in his spare time.

Michael Zalesne
Chief Financial Officer
Michael is a senior from Columbia, SC, majoring in Biopsychology. He first got involved with Tufts SynBio shortly after its founding in February 2013. As CFO, he oversees donations from sponsors and the university. Michael has worked in several labs at different universities, and he is also involved with the Tufts Innovation Institute, Tufts Community Union Senate, and Archimedes Project. He enjoys being outdoors, going to the gym, and biking.

Michaela Gold
Education Director
Michaela Gold is a junior at Tufts University majoring in Biology and Biotechnology. She is currently studying DNA instability in S. pombe yeast with the Freudenreich lab. Michaela has a strong passion for molecular biology and microbiology, which she hopes to use to enter the biotechnology field after graduate school. When not in lab, Michaela is an avid rock climber and a member of the Tufts Climbing Team.

Connor McBrine
Research Director
Connor McBrine is a senior pursuing majors in Biology and Biotechnology. In addition to SynBio, Connor works to better understand DNA repair pathways in Drosophila with CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing. He hopes to eventually use this technology to develop therapies and even cures for genetic disorders. Various positions teaching students about biology and previous work as an EMT have also instilled Connor with a strong interest in scientific education and medicine, both of which he hopes to one day incorporate into a career in biology. In his free time, Connor enjoys reading about military history and discovering new music at local concerts.

Denali Rao
Head of Web Development
Denali is a senior at Tufts studying Computer Science and Cognitive Science. She has always been interested in biological research, interning in a Molecular Biology lab for two years before turning her interests to computer science. Now, as a senior, she is pursuing research that integrates computer science and biology.


Lucas Brown
Lucas Brown is a sophomore from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, majoring in Biochemistry and Biotechnology. Lucas loves the idea of using biological sciences to develop new treatments for illnesses. He also enjoys dogs, reading, and fencing. An avid pun-maker ever since he discovered the internet, Lucas revels in making his friends laugh or groan in exasperation.

Michael Gannon
Michael Gannon is a Tufts sophomore from North Reading, Massachusetts, who intends to major in Biomedical Engineering and minor in History. He is a black belt in Shōrin-ryū Karate and an amatuer tabletop and strategy gamer. His academic focus on science comes from an interest in the workings of the world and in helping extend human life.

Christopher Kuhner
Chris is a Certified Registered Central Sterile Technician at Winthrop University Hospital and has worked extensively in the operating room with sterilization and instrumentation. Chris also researches catalytic activity of synthetic polymers in the Walt lab. He enjoys singing, writing and is an aspiring physician.

Schuyler Link
Schuyler is a sophomore pre-medical student majoring in Biomedical Engineering. Outside of Synthetic biology he is involved in the club fencing team and the tabletop gaming club. He is currently working on becoming registered as an EMT to join TEMS as part of his pre-med preparation. Schuyler’s interest is in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.

Adam Rayfield
Adam is a junior majoring in biomedical engineering. In addition to Tufts Synthetic Biology research, he is involved in research with the Tufts Department of Biomedical Engineering focused on scaffolds for 3D tissue engineering and bioreactor development, and is further interested in genetic engineering, bioinformatics, physics, and the history of science. Outside of academic interests, Adam fences sabre with the club fencing team, plays viola, and enjoys reading and hiking.

Samantha Toohey
Samantha is a senior pursuing a degree in Biochemistry from Tufts University. She is the chair of Relay for Life, and hopes one day to help in the fight against cancer through research. Outside of TSB, she has worked at the Walt lab on single molecule SNP detection and the Garlick lab on the epigenetics of diabetic and stem cells. She is also a member of Kappa Alpha Theta and the Leonard Carmichael Society.

Yimin Zhang
Yimi is a junior at Tufts University double majoring in ACS Chemistry and Community Health. She is currently involved with in vivo evaluation of potential therapeutic drugs against infectious diseases in the Mukherjee lab. She enjoys spouting random facts and is the peppiest of the pep as the President of Pep Band.

Hayley Carabello
Hayley Carabello is a sophomore pre-medical student double majoring in Biology and Biotechnology. She is a certified EMT in New York and is working on becoming a nationally certified EMT in order to serve in any state. Hayley is interested in pursuing biomedical engineering research and is currently working in a lab that focuses on silk tissue engineering. She also enjoys tutoring underprivileged children in nearby communities and dancing on Tufts dance troupes.

Andrade Hendricks
Andrade is a junior chemical engineering student from San Antonio, Texas. She has fostered a deep interest in regenerative medicine and genetic engineering. Outside of Synthetic biology, she is working to create a Green Revolving Fund for Tufts, to open a new channel of funding for student led green initiatives. She has a wide range of extra curriculars spanning from an interest in surfing and joining the cycling team, to running the ceramics section of Tufts crafts center.

Ryan Leung
Ryan is a senior from New Bedford, MA majoring in Biomedical Engineering. He worked at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences and Thermo Fisher Scientific prior to joining the Tissue Engineering Resource Center (TERC). His current research aims to develop a complex 3D co-culture model of human renal tissue for applications in disease modeling and drug screening. On campus, Ryan is a Health Career Fellow, the Captain of BlackOut Step Team, and involved in Tufts China Care, FOCUS, and Delta Tau Delta Fraternity.

Arin Naidu
Arin Naidu is a junior student majoring in biomedical engineering. Arin’s research interest is in cardiovascular tissue engineering and medical imaging instrumentation. Outside of Synthetic biology, Arin is on the Tufts Community Union Judiciary. He hopes to expand his research interest and experience through his time in synthetic biology.

Jesse Starger
Jesse Starger is a senior at Tufts University majoring in Chemical and Biological Engineering. Jesse has research experience in the polymer field as he continues to work in the Yi lab with overarching interests in sustainable and environmental engineering. Outside of class, Jesse is a member of the Tufts University Men’s Rugby Football Club in addition to being the Eco-Rep for his dorm. While with the Tufts iGEM Team, Jesse hopes to increase his exposure to other academic fields through more independent forms of study than what a traditional undergraduate education may typically allow.

Kate Williams
Kate is a junior at Tufts University, pursuing a major in Biochemistry and a minor in Cognitive and Brain Sciences. She is currently involved with research in the Avian Cognition Lab, studying auditory and motion discrimination in pigeons. Outside of the lab, Kate is a co-founder and board member for the Tufts chapter of United Against Inequities in Disease. She loves animals and being outdoors, and would like to attend Veterinary School after graduating from Tufts.

Alumni and Advisors

Christopher Ghadban
Founding Director
Christopher Ghadban co-founded Tufts Synthetic Biology with Petar Todorov in January 2013, leading the team through the first SYNENERGENE conference, The Future of Phage and Synthetic Biology, and their first iGEM Jamboree in Fall 2014, for which they received a gold medal. Currently an M.S. Bioengineering ‘17 Candidate at Tufts, he serves as Graduate Advisor, sits on the Advisory Board and Steering Committee, and directs expansion of the organization. Mr. Ghadban enjoys entrepreneurship and hopes to continue a tradition of establishing organizations to positively expand opportunity.

Prof. Nikhil Nair
Tufts University Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Dr. Nikhil Nair is a professor in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department of the Engineering School of Tufts University. His research focuses on altering various aspects of microbial physiology with the aim of not only engineering them for applications, but also to understand why various features of life evolved the way they did. He believes that, as an engineer, building a synthetic system is one of the most powerful methods to understand the intricacies of that system. Dr. Nair is the advisor of the Tufts Synthetic Biology team.

Petar Todorov
Founding Director
Petar Todorov co-founded Tufts Synthetic Biology with Chris Ghadban. During the last five years he has worked on projects spanning biophysics, molecular biology, and biomedical engineering. He currently works on elucidating restriction enzyme mechanisms in the Walt group at Tufts. Mr. Todorov established Tufts iGEM in early 2013. Since then he has worked to help the group secure funding, laboratory space, and faculty support in addition to guiding literature searches and drafting proposals outlining potential routes of research. Beyond the bench, he is interested in the intersection science, technology, society, and ethics. Mr. Todorov was one of the students involved in organizing the Institute of Global Leadership’s 2013 professional workshop focused on Privacy and Progress in Whole Genome Sequencing. Outside the lab Petar enjoys travel, photography, and reading in Bulgarian, English, and Latin.