Two Synthetic Biologists Join Northwestern

Julius Lucks and Danielle Tullman Ercek to join this fall

Northwestern Engineering’s growing synthetic biology team is expanding to include two new faculty. 

This fall Julius Lucks from Cornell University and Danielle Tullman Ercek from the University of California at Berkeley will join Northwestern’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Center for Synthetic Biology.

Lucks’ work combines experiment and theory to ask fundamental questions about the design principles that govern how RNA folds and functions in living organism. He then explores how these principles can be used to engineer biomolecular systems to open doors to new medical therapeutics.

Lucks has received several awards and honors, including an NSF CAREER Award, NIH New Innovator Award, Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and DARPA Young Faculty Award. He earned his bachelor of science in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, and then earned an MPhil in chemical physics from Cambridge University, where he received a Winston Churchill Scholarship. He has a PhD in chemical physics from Harvard University.

Tullman Ercek, formerly Berkeley’s Merck Chair in Biochemical Engineering, seeks to control the transport of all types of materials, from electrons to macromolecules, across cellular membranes. Her work has broad applications, including the production of bio fuels and chemicals as well as the development of living batteries.

Tullman Ercek’s awards and honors include the Exxon Knowledge Build Award, NSF CAREER Award, Charles Wilke Endowed Chair in Chemical Engineering, and paper of the year from the Journal of the Taiwan Institute of Chemical Engineers. She earned her bachelor of science from the Illinois Institute of Technology and PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a NSF Graduate Research Fellow.