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Inside Our Program
Seminars & Events
Biotech Nexus

Friday, May 19, 2023
5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Each year Northwestern’s Master of Biotechnology Program (MBP) hosts Biotech Nexus, an exciting evening event which benefits both the MBP students and the biotechnology industry alike. Whether your goal is to network, define a career trajectory, recruit, become a mentor or mentee, or simply enjoy an evening among friends from the biotechnology industry, this event will help you make the right connections.


The 2023 Biotech Nexus Agenda

Welcome address, MBP director Danielle Tullman-Ercek
Explore your career potential as you become acquainted with the numerous and varied career options – both in and out of a laboratory setting – available to those with experience and education in biotechnology.

Panel discussion and Q&A
Engage with a panel of five of the industry’s leading professionals as they explore the future of their respective fields and what led them on their individual career paths. Moderated by Julius Lucks, Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Co-Director of the Center for Synthetic Biology at Northwestern University.

Networking / cocktail reception
End the evening with lively conversations and introductions during the networking reception with MBP students, alumni, faculty and industry guests.

Panel Participants at the 2023 Biotech Nexus Event


Julius B. Lucks, PhD

Professor and Associate Chair of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Co-Director of the Center for Synthetic Biology, Northwestern University

Julius B. Lucks is Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Co-Director of the Center for Synthetic Biology at Northwestern University. Lucks received his PhD in chemical physics from Harvard University and transitioned to synthetic biology as a Miller Fellow at UC Berkeley. He is a leader in RNA research and synthetic biology, focusing on developing technologies that tackle global challenges, most recently in the area of global water insecurity. Professor Lucks has been recognized with a number of awards including a DARPA Young Faculty Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, an ONR Young Investigator Award, an NIH New Innovator Award, an NSF CAREER award, the ACS Synthetic Biology Young Investigator Award, a Camille-Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, a finalist for the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, and was most recently inducted into the American Institute of Medical and Biomedical Engineers. He also leads the first NSF graduate training program in synthetic biology, is a founding member of the Engineering Biology Research Consortium, and co-founded the Cold Spring Harbor Synthetic Biology Summer Course. He is also a co-founder of Stemloop, Inc. which aims to use cell free biosensing technology to empower people with information about the health of themselves and their environment.


Asha Varghese, MS

Clinical Research Project Manager, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Asha Varghese is a Clinical Research Project Manager at UT Southwestern Medical Center in the Department of Otolaryngology located in Dallas, Texas. A proud wildcat, Asha started her career as a benchtop researcher while she was pursuing her M.S. in Biotechnology from Northwestern University which soon transitioned to the clinical researcher profession where she explored her interest in the patient-facing research world. Besides managing the clinical research team of the department, her roles and responsibilities involve management of study start-up to study close-out, contracts and budget negotiation, and study submissions to IND, FDA, and IRB. “I love what I do” is Asha’s response as a key to her professional strength. She is not only driven by witnessing research accomplishments to treat an incurable diagnosis but also by the lessons learned from an unfortunate trial which could not achieve the expected endpoints. Asha’s passion in clinical research has been encouraged and supported by her previous and current manager who never failed to groom and support her ideas of promoting research growth and development. Outside work, she enjoys listening to music and spending time with her family and friends. Holding on to what she loves to do, she looks forward to continuing to pursue her career growth in the field of clinical research operations and management.

Matt Barnes, MS

Client Partner - Senior Director, IQVIA

Matt Barnes is a Client Partner within IQVIA’s commercial organization. His remit is executive oversight and growth of two of IQVIA’s largest big pharma relationships. He is responsible for more than $50 Million in annual revenue across management consulting, data, and software as a service engagements. Out of 400 GTM professionals at IQVIA,  Matt was selected by IQVIA leadership as a top 10 performer through his contributions to the growth of the business in 2023.

Prior to joining IQVIA, Matt was a Director in EY Parthenon’s Mergers and Acquisition practice. He spent several years directly leading professional service engagements during multi-billion M&A transactions for Fortune 500 companies. During his time at EY, he regularly developed operating models to realize synergies or optimize costs across functions such as IT, Corporate Strategy, R&D, Pharmacovigilance, Commercial, and Finance.  Examples of his projects include helping Cerner enter the real-world data industry through acquisition.

Matt joined EY after a few years at West Monroe Partners, where he was a manager in the life science practice. He participated in several private equity transactions for CROs, SaaS, and other companies. Examples of his projects include helping the Sema-4 genomics laboratory spin out of Mount Sinai Health Systems.

As a graduate of MBP in 2010, he lives in Highland Park, IL with his wife and daughter and can often be found on the golf course.


Paul Marks, MS

Product Specialist - TFF and Filtration Systems, Sartorius

Paul Marks is a Product Specialist at Sartorius covering Tangential Flow Filtration (TFF) consumables and systems. He is responsible for supporting internal technical and sales account managers, as well as directly with customers, for North America. This includes supplying customer interaction and feedback to product management for continuous improvement of membranes and systems. Before focusing on TFF Paul worked as a field application specialist within the Separations Technologies group at Sartorius. Here he supported customers within the central region of North America on all aspects of upstream and downstream filtration, including normal flow filtration, virus retentive filtration, and filter integrity testing. Prior to Sartorius Paul worked at various biotech and biopharmaceutical startup companies where he held roles within upstream and downstream R&D, production, and quality control. During this time, he received his Master of Science degree in Biotechnology from Northwestern University. Paul earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Illinois Institute of Technology focusing on microbiology. When not working, Paul enjoys putting time into his myriad of hobbies – from MIG welding and attending metal concerts, to fermenting foods and practicing the hurdy-gurdy.


Phillip Freeman, MS

Process Development Manager, Clever Carnivore, Inc.

Phillip Freeman is the Process Development Manager at Clever Carnivore, Inc., a Chicago-based cultivated meat company. In his role, he leads a team of scientists working to solve the current bottleneck of scaling-up cultivated meat production to reach price parity with traditionally slaughtered meat. Phillip worked previously in upstream gene therapy manufacturing at Novartis Gene Therapies before pursuing his graduate education. He earned his MS in Biotechnology from Northwestern University and his BS in Chemistry and Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina Honors College. He was a graduate research assistant in Paul Burridge’s Lab while in pursuing his MS degree, focusing on 3D iPSC proliferation and cardiomyocyte differentiation before transitioning to process development work at Clever Carnivore.

Susan Schofer, PhD

Partner, SOSV/HAX & Chief Science Officer, HAX

Susan Schofer is a Partner at SOSV and Chief Science Officer at HAX, the world’s premier venture program accelerating early-stage hard tech startups. She works with startups via early-stage investment, defining key milestones and go-to-market strategies, and is responsible for scientific oversight to support portfolio companies. Prior to HAX, Susan served on the leadership team at Modern Meadow as SVP Business Development, developing innovative, sustainable materials, leading product, partnerships, and go-to-market strategy and execution from ideation through to first commercialization. Before that, Susan spent 10 years in Silicon Valley in roles spanning R&D, product development, product management, and business development for Amyris (pioneer of Synthetic Biology) and Symyx Technologies (automated, robotic high-throughput tools & workflows to accelerate new material discovery & commercialization). Her passion is working with innovators to bring scientific breakthroughs to market to make a positive impact on people & planet. Susan was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at Stockholm University, developing artificial photosynthesis. She holds a PhD in chemistry from Caltech and an ScB in chemistry from Brown University.


MBP wishes to thank Northwestern’s Biotechnology Training Program for their generous support and contributions to this event.