Team

The Cellular Agriculture research team is a subset of the Kaplan Laboratory within the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University.

Current Team:

Dr. David Kaplan (david.kaplan@tufts.edu) – Principal Investigator: David Kaplan is the Stern Family Professor of Engineering and Distinguished University Professor at Tufts University. He is the chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and also holds faculty appointments in the School of Medicine, the School of Dental Medicine, the Department of Chemistry, and the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. His research focus is on biopolymer engineering to understand structure-function relationships, with emphasis on studies related to self-assembly, biomaterials engineering, and functional tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. He has published over 900 peer-reviewed papers and edited eight books.  Dr. Kaplan serves on the editorial boards of numerous journals and is editor-in-chief for the American Chemical Society journal ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering. He has received a number of awards for teaching, was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and received the Columbus Discovery Medal and the Society for Biomaterials’ Clemson Award for contributions to the literature.  He serves on boards for many academic programs and initiatives. 

Dr. Ning Xiang (ning.xiang@tufts.edu) – Postdoctoral Fellow (2019 – present): Ning Xiang is a 2nd year postdoctoral researcher at Tufts University. She received her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Purdue University in 2017. Prior to her position in the lab, Ning worked at Just Inc. and Nestle Product and Technology Centre on product research and development. She currently works with Dr. David Kaplan on designing perfusion bioreactors and developing edible scaffolds for cultured meat applications.

Dr. Sophia Theodossiou (sophia.theodossiou@tufts.edu) – Postdoctoral Fellow (2020 – present): Sophia is a first year postdoctoral researcher at Tufts University. She received her Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from the University of Idaho in 2020, where she worked on tendon tissue engineering. Sophia’s research in the Kaplan lab focuses on using silk-based soft biomaterials for skeletal muscle tissue engineering applications. Within the cellular agriculture group, Sophia is exploring genetic manipulation of cells and the fabrication of scaffold-free cell fibers for downstream applications in cultured meat. 

Natalie Rubio (natalie.rubio@tufts.edu) – Ph.D. Candidate (2016 – present): Natalie Rubio is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate at Tufts University. She received her B.S. Chemical & Biological Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2015. Prior to graduate school, Natalie worked at New Harvest, Perfect Day Foods and Quartzy. Natalie’s research focuses on: (1) applying tissue engineering strategies to invertebrate (i.e., insect) cell platforms and (2) fabricating edible scaffold systems for 3D culture of muscle and fat cells with a goal of lowering barriers for the commercialization of cultured meat.

Andrew Stout (andrew.stout@tufts.edu)  – Ph.D. Candidate (2017 – present): Andrew Stout is a 4th year Ph.D. candidate at Tufts University. He received his B.S. Materials Science & Nanoengineering from Rice University in 2015. Prior to graduate school, Andrew worked in Dr. Mark Post’s cultured meat lab at Maastricht University, and at Geltor, Inc. Andrew’s research in the Kaplan lab is focused on using genetic and metabolic strategies to enhance the nutritional profile and bioprocess parameters of cultured meat production.

John Yuen (john.yuen_jr@tufts.edu) – Ph.D. Candidate (2017 – present): John Yuen is a 4th year Ph.D. candidate in the David Kaplan Laboratory at Tufts University. He received his B.S. in Molecular Biology from the University of California, San Diego in 2015 and his M.S. degree in Biology in 2016. Prior to graduate school, John also worked as a research assistant in the Paul Price Laboratory, investigating molecular and biochemical mechanisms behind osteoblast bone formation. John’s research focuses on producing whole muscle cuts of cultured meat using novel perfusion bioreactor designs that generate three-dimensional muscle and fat constructs with in vivo-like morphology.

Sophia Letcher (sophia.letcher@tufts.edu) – Ph.D. Candidate (2020 – present): Sophie Letcher is a 1st year Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. candidate. She received her B.A. in Neuroscience from Kenyon College in 2018, and worked as a Research Technologist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital prior to graduate school. She currently studies in Dr. David Kaplan’s tissue engineering and regenerative medicine research group. Sophie’s research focuses on manipulating endogenous bioelectrical cues to control proliferation and differentiation in various cultured-meat relevant cell types.

Michael Saad (michael.saad@tufts.edu) – Ph.D. Candidate (2020 – present): Michael Saad is a 1st year Ph.D. candidate in the David Kaplan Laboratory at Tufts University. He received his B.S. in Bioengineering from Rice University in 2016. Prior to graduate school, Michael worked as a Bio-Analytics research associate at Perfect Day Foods. Michael’s research focuses on: (1) cell-line development for fish and crustacean cells and (2) omics and machine learning to develop serum-free media.

Alumni:

Kyle Fish – Lab Technician & Graduate Student (2018 – 2020) Kyle worked as a lab technician and started his graduate degree in Biomedical Engineering in the Kaplan lab. He is now the Chief Technology Officer of Telis Bioscience.

Robin Simsa – Visiting Scholar (2018 – 2019) Robin spent a semester in the Kaplan lab before graduating from the University of Gothenburg with a Ph.D. in Regenerative Medicine. In 2020, Robin founded Revo Foods, a company applying 3D printing to sustainable seafood.

Marie Gibbons – Visiting Scholar (2017) Marie spent a summer in the Kaplan lab before graduating from North Carolina State University with a M.S. Physiology. Post-graduation, she worked as a research scientist at Memphis Meats and is now a research scientist II at Vow. 

Viktor Maciag – Undergraduate Research Assistant (2016 – 2017) After graduating with his B.S. Biomedical Engineering in 2017 from Tufts, Viktor worked as a research associate at JUST (a company making plant-based and cultured products) before transitioning to a lead tissue engineer role at Mission Barns (a start-up working on cultured fat).

Dr. Laura Domigan – Postdoctoral Fellow (2012 – 2015) After completing her postdoctoral fellowship in the Kaplan lab in 2015, Laura worked as a research fellow at the University of Auckland. Today, Laura is a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland and directs a research group focused on cultured meat. 

Dr. Amanda Baryshyan – Ph.D. Graduate (2008 – 2013) After graduating with her Ph.D. Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering in 2013 from Tufts, Amanda worked as a senior research scientist at Conagen before becoming a research scientist II at the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute. Today, Amanda is a principal engineer at Mori.

Ryan Pandya – Undergraduate Research Assistant (2011 – 2012) After graduating with his B.S. Chemical & Biological engineering in 2013 from Tufts, Ryan worked as a process development associate at MassBiologics for a year before founding Perfect Day, a company producing dairy via flora-based fermentation, in 2014.

Interested in Joining the team? Please reach out to david.kaplan@tufts.edu with your CV and a brief summary of your experience and interests.