Andrew Stout, PhD Candidate
Genetic engineering, Nutrition, Metabolic engineering, Cell-line development, Serum-free media
I first learned about cultured meat in 2011 when I was in a food journalism class for a high school elective, and we read an article about how Professor Mark Post at Maastricht University aimed to produce meat in the lab. I was fascinated with the topic, and when I was in my undergrad at Rice University, I reached out to Professor Post about the possibility of working in his lab. He was kind enough to let me join for the summer of 2013, and I spent my time exploring alginate as a biomaterial for cultured meat scaffolds. Lucky for me, that was also the summer when the Post lab revealed the world’s first cultured hamburger, and I got to attend the tasting event in London at the end of the summer. I was hooked on Cellular Agriculture after that. After completing my BS in Materials Science, I returned to the Post lab for 6 more months studying alginate scaffolds, and then went to work at Geltor, Inc., in the Bay Area. At Geltor, I was part of the strain engineering team, and spent my time engineering microbes for the production of recombinant collagen and gelatin. After a year with Geltor, I joined Tufts through the New Harvest fellowship program. I have since spent my time focusing on genetic engineering strategies to improve cultured meat products and production processes.
John Yuen Jr, PhD Candidate
Cultured fat, Adipocyte cell culture, Scale up, Pig cell culture, 3D skeletal muscle tissue engineering, Vascularization, Endothelial cell culture
John studied molecular biology and researched the generation of bone in vitro during his undergraduate and master’s studies. Thinking of in vitro meat was a natural next step, and he applied to the David Kaplan Laboratory at Tufts University to pursue this topic for his doctoral studies. In the Kaplan lab, John works on scalable methods of producing cultured fat tissue, as well as 3D tissue culture of vascularized skeletal muscle.
Michael Saad, PhD Candidate
Cell-line development, Cell culture, Bioinformatics
After 4 years at Rice University, having graduated with a BS in Biomedical Engineering, I was looking to combine my passion for food with my scientific background. That search led me to Perfect Day Foods, where I was a Bio-Analytics research associate for nearly 3 years. Then, I turned my attention from dairy to seafood, joining the Kaplan Lab and taking on projects for fish cell line development. The work in cell line development has led to promising results for cultivated mackerel muscle cells. At Tufts, I also focus on using bioinformatics and computational tools to analyze large datasets, with a more specific interest in using omics data to educate cell culture experiments.
Sophie Letcher, PhD Candidate
Cell line development, Serum-free media development, Cell culture, Insect cell culture, Veterinarian nutrition, 3D cell culture
Sophie graduated from Kenyon College in 2018 with a B.A. in Neuroscience. After graduation, she spent two years working as a technical research assistant in the Butovsky Lab at Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA. During this time, she realized her desire to research sustainable solutions using biology and became fascinated with cellular agriculture. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate and New Harvest Research Fellow in the Kaplan Lab, where her research primarily focuses on culturing insect muscle and fat cells to create novel food products.
Jake Marko, PhD Candidate
Co-cultures, Algae culture, Low-cost media development, Cell culture, Genetic engineering, Sustainable agriculture, Cell line development
In early 2020, during my junior year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), I found the term cellular agriculture online. It described exactly what I wanted to pursue: a sustainability-focused application of tissue engineering that promotes animal welfare. In a wonderful coincidence, one of my professors, Dr. Glenn Gaudette, was researching this field. I formed my senior design product with Dr. Gaudette to explore the use of microalgae to increase the efficiency of large-scale muscle production. I knew I wanted to continue my research journey by pursuing a Ph.D. in cellular agriculture, and Dr. Gaudette pointed me to Dr. David Kaplan’s laboratory. After meeting with Dr. Kaplan and his students, I felt that the breadth of research goals and the collaborative environment were exactly what I needed to become an influential researcher in the field. I am now continuing my work exploring the prospects of microalgae in cellular agriculture.