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Current Lab Members


Stephen Mayfield, Principal Investigator

Dr. Mayfield is the director of the California Center for Algae Biotechonology, co-director of Food & Fuel for the 21st Century, and a professor of Molecular Biology at the University of California. San Diego. His research focuses on gene regulation in eukaryotic algae and the use of this alga for the production of human therapeutic proteins and as a platform for biofuel production. He received his Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from the University of California, Berkeley and B.S. in Biochemistry and Plant Biology from the California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo.

Graduate Students


Joseph Ostrand

Joey is a graduate student at UCSD developing high-throughput techniques for rapid algal strain development and optimization. By utilizing fluorescent protein reporters, individual cells with favorable attributes can be isolated from a pool of millions using fluorescence activated cell sorting. Development of this technology in concert with next-generation sequencing will allow us to identify important genetic elements which confer greater protein accumulation in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Joey is also using FACS to develop selection methods which do not require antibiotic resistance.


Bijie Ren

Bijie is interested in systems and synthetic biology, and would like to use algae to produce therapeautic proteins, natural products and biofuels. He is currently utilizing systems biology methods, such as network reconstruction for algae, to study metabolic flux balance for algae culturing in certain environment. Through microfluidic chip and automated software, interesting single cell analysis can be performed and computational work tested. Bijie also uses novel physical and bioinformatic methods to systematically analyze the transcription factor binding sites in algae. With the discovery of novel regulatory elements in future, some cell circuits can be designed and built to make algae a smart sensor/cleaner for toxic chemicals, cell factories, or therapeautic cargos for human cancers and serious diseases.


Yasin Torres-Tiji

Yasin obtained his Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from Autonomous University of Barcelona, working in maize on lignocellulosic ethanol production. After that, he became interested in using microalgae as a biofactory for the production of different products ranging from inexpensive biofuels to very costly and valuable recombinant proteins. In order to achieve such goal he joined the Mayfield Lab and is currently working in optimizing controlled gene expression in both nucleus and chloroplast. Developing such technology will not only let us produce recombinant proteins of interest at a very low cost, but also will let us modify the metabolism of algae to meet our expectation of a low cost bioproducts platform. One of those expectations is to transform microalgae into a superfood that will become a new source of sustainable and cheap healthy food without having to sacrifice the organoleptic pleasure of tasting a succulent hamburger.



Frank Fields

Lab Manager

Frank earned his Master's degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he studied the ecology and evolution of algae, specifically looking at the effect of different physiological traits and evolutionary lineages on growth rate and lipid content. He is now collaborating with researchers at UCSD and the local biotech industry to advance the research, development, and education of algae as a means to produce valuable commercial products.