Sonja Billerbeck, Ph.D.

Columbia University

Sonja Billerbeck is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Virginia Cornish in the Department of Chemistry at Columbia University. She received her Ph.D. in 2013 at the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) in the interdisciplinary Department for Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE). Prior to coming to the ETH Zürich, she was awarded a master’s in biology from the University of Tübingen, Germany for a master’s thesis performed at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in the Department of Protein Evolution studying the function of archeal chaperones.

During her doctoral studies, Dr. Billerbeck developed a novel strategy for the rational design of switchable proteins for application in cell-free biotechnology. Her current research interest revolves around the field of synthetic biology, with special emphasis on protein engineering strategies applied to understand and functionalize bacterial microcompartments. She was awarded a fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation. She is an active member of the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) foundation, which organizes and operates the iGEM Competition, a student summer competition in the field of synthetic biology, in which she participated in 2010 as part of the team from ETH Zürich by engineering a light-responsive bacterial robot. She further served as a jury member at the iGEM World Championship at MIT in 2011 and 2012.

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