Undergraduate Student

Kylie Akiyama is a second-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley majoring in bioengineering. She is especially interested in the field of synthetic biology and how we can utilize it in the context of space exploration. Kylie is currently within the FPSD division of CUBES, working to improve the group's capacity to metabolically engineer A. platensis for small molecule production.

Alex is a second year Aerospace Engineering student at the University of Florida. He is working under Dr. Amor Menezes in the Systems Design and Integration division. He has been a member of CUBES since November 2018. He is interested optimizing mission parameters to minimize mission costs and increase viability. His work at the University of Florida also includes the applications of model-free control to space missions.

Davian is a second year Berkeley undergrad studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In CUBES, heĀ is working on the interface for space resource modeling software. Davian is also investigating phages in the gut microbiome as part of ENIGMA, and makes vector graphics.

Farrah is a second year undergraduate student studying Bioengineering and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. In the past, she did computational biology research at UCSD working on genome-scale metabolic modeling. She joined CUBES in late Fall of 2021 working under Aaron Berliner. Currently, Farrah is working with Davian to create a crew-member model that simulates how crew members consume and waste resources during space travel and extravehicular activity.

Dania Khan is a fourth year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley studying chemical engineering. In CUBES, her work involves the simulation of hybrid bioinorganic reactors. Prior to transferring to Berkeley, she was a student at Foothill Community College and worked on research related to asphaltene aggregation at oil/water interfaces, as a part of the Fuller Group at Stanford.

Isaac Lipsky is a second year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley studying environmental science. In concert with Aaron Berliner, he is working on developing cost-benefit metrics for Mars surface operations. His interests include planetary science and the tantalizing prospect of Martian terraforming.

David Merkley
Areas of Interest:

David Merkley is an undergraduate student at Utah State University in his Junior year. He is studying computational mathematics and pre-med. David is from Centerville, Utah and has 3 brothers. When he is not studying for school, you can find David either wakeboarding or skiing the slopes.

David has always wanted to help out other people, which is one reason that led to him towards becoming a physician. David has always said that he wanted to feel like he was helping to make a difference in the world. Another reason is that the human body fascinated him. Wondering how medications interacted with the cells, enzymes, and other elements of the body was something that was always a question for him. He wanted to understand more about the human body and how all of the different parts worked in unison.

One way that you could describe David would be, welcoming and hilarious. He is genuinely concerned with others surrounding him and wishes the best for them. He can always make someone smile, even when they're having a rough day. Individuals seem to feel at ease around him.

Lauren Payne is a second year undergraduate student at Utah State University studying Plant Science. She interns at the USU Crop Physiology Lab, assisting graduate students with experiments involving plant growth conditions. In CUBES, she aids Noah Langenfeld with projects in nitrogen recycling and nutrient optimization in hydroponic systems.

Kim is a second-year undergraduate student studying Bioengineering. She is interested in the applications of engineering and science in space exploration. In CUBES, she will be working on exploring species of cyanobacteria and developing a pan-genome.

Divya is a third year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley majoring in Bioengineering. She screens Spirulina mutants as they are generated and help in the development of better transformation methods for this organism in FPSD.

Gretchen Vengerova is a third year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, studying bioengineering. She is interested in applying bioengineering concepts to conservation efforts. Previously she worked at CSU San Marcos, studying the transcriptomics of algae. In CUBES, she is working to study potential loop closure processes in a Martian biomanufactory. In the future, she hopes to use loop closures concepts to decrease terrestrial waste and pollution, but she would also enjoy more opportunities to merge bioengineering with space.

Tyler Wallentine is an undergraduate student at Utah State University pursuing Bachelor of Science degrees in biochemistry and biological engineering. Tyler is originally from Meridian, Idaho and comes from a family of nine. He has a passion for space exploration and wants to see the establishment of a Martian colony within his lifetime. He intends to apply his education in engineering and chemistry to help in this endeavor. His interests include chemical engineering, space system development, and environmental biotechnology. He enjoys 3D design and printing, both as a hobby and as a means of accomplishing his engineering goals. He intends to pursue a Ph.D. in bioengineering following his undergraduate studies to further progress towards a research career.

Tyler is currently working with the Microbial Media and Feedstocks Division (MMFD) of NASA CUBES. He has been continuing development of an anaerobic photobioreactor for Rhodopseudomonas palustris NifA*. He is also evaluating the effectiveness of R. palustris to utilize planetary base wastewater to grow and perform nitrogen fixation, to maximize in-situ resource utilization.

Tyler is an avid runner, having participated in both track and cross country in high school. During that time, he ran a marathon and has a personal mile record of 4:44. He also boxes in his free time. He enjoys drawing, painting, and graphic design. He also enjoys movies, camping, and writing.

Spencer is a senior at UC Berkeley studying MCB and astrophysics. He joined CUBES in October 2021 and is currently working with Aaron Berliner on an examination of habitability in black hole accretion disks. Outside of astrobiology, Spencer is interested in music and education, and helps direct an organization providing free college admissions prep to communities in the Bay Area. In his spare time, Spencer likes to read, play piano, and game.