We are a young team of scholars with backgrounds in molecular biology, biochemistry, molecular evolution, genetics, population biology and bioinformatics. 

Administrative Assistant: Nikki Hughes (


Betul Kacar (Lead)

I am an evolutionary biologist and an astrobiologist interested in understanding the underlying forces of molecular evolution and how Earth’s history may have shaped the way life is today. I engineer microbes with synthetic genes and study their co-adaptation in the laboratory. I care deeply about science communication and outreach.
[Bio] [BetulKacar_CV] [Email].

Mailing Address: Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street 301, Cambridge MA 02144


Andrés Ferriño 

Andrés is a student of the Erasmus Mundus Master Programme in Evolutionary Biology (MEME). He is interested in the evolution of protein structure and function, and is currently working on the evolution of Rubisco. Andrés likes traveling, enjoys modern art and reading about philosophy of the mind.

IMG_2181.JPGHanon McShea

Hanon is a Harvard undergraduate studying Integrative Biology. They are particularly interested in phylogenetics, geobiology, and the evolution of life history traits. They spend all their free time looking after a baby ball python named Basil.


Stuart Brown

Stuart is undertaking a Biochemistry degree at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom. As part of his degree, he is working within Harvard research labs for 12 months. He spent the first half of my year within Church Lab at Harvard Medical School working on novel transcriptional regulators. He is currently working in the Kacar lab, where his research project involves engineering cyanobacteria.


Divjot Kaur

Divjot is currently doing her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry in the University of Surrey and as part of my degree she is visiting the Kacar lab. Her project in the Kacar lab is based on the evolution of EF-Tu genes in E.coli using a technology known as MAGE, which she learned about from my previous position in Church lab, where she worked on retron recombineering prior to joining this lab. When she is not conducting important scientific research, she likes to travel and explore different places and cultures.

Ryan Bio Photo (1).png

Ryan Ward

Ryan is a junior at Harvard College concentrating in Chemical and Physical Biology. He’s fascinated by biophysics, biomimetics, and synthetic biology. Outside the lab and library, Ryan enjoys exploring the world by running, hiking, and traveling. He is also the current Staff Director of the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter.


Anna Donovan 

Anna joined the lab as an MSI Fellow at Harvard. She is interested in biochemistry and computational chemistry, specifically molecular dynamics. She is a teaching assistant and tutor for general chemistry, and outside of the classroom she plays fullback for Colby Women’s Rugby and works as a barista at a coffee house.


Cierra Armstrong 

Cierra is an undergraduate student at Bridgewater State University, majoring in biology. She is most interested in the study of the origin and early evolution of life on Earth, in particular the evolution of genetic information transmission. She enjoys reading, knitting, and creating artificial languages in her free time.

  Current Collaborators:

 Former Members


Name Program/School Role Current Position
05/09-2016 Alex Plesa Harvard MSI, Colby College Undergraduate researcher Applying to Grad School
2016 Alexandra Bertola Harvard, Graduate Student Rotation student Organic farming specialist, Columbia
2016 Ulku Uzun Erasmus MEME Student Research advisor PhD student at Oxford University
Summer 2015 Gokce Senger Harvard, Blue Marble Space Summer undergraduate researcher MSc student in METU
2015 – 2016 Nurcan Tuncbag Associate, MIT & METU Research project director Asst. Prof. at METU, Collaborator
2011 – 2014 Lily Tran Georgia Tech Bioengineering Undergraduate advisor Research Assistant at Georgia Tech
2013 – 2014 Peter Schnaak Georgia Tech Petit Undergraduate Scholar Research advisor Medical School, University of Pennsylvania
2014 Summer Rosa Adames Dunwoody High School, Senior Supervised summer work Undergraduate at Brenau University
2014 Summer Citlali Saloma Dunwoody High School, Senior Supervised summer work Undergraduate at Mary Baldwin College
2013 – 2014 Jennifer Zhang Georgia Tech Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate thesis advisor Petit Scholar at Georgia Tech
2013 – 2014 Deepak Unni Georgia Tech Bioengineering Research project director Bioinformatician at University of Missouri