The Pierce Lab

Lab Members

Principal Investigator

  • Prof. Niles A. Pierce x8086 Division of Biology & Biological Engineering Division of Engineering & Applied Science

Research Scientists

  • Dr. Harry Choi x8837 Molecular Instruments Research Scientist Division of Biology & Biological Engineering
  • Dr. Maayan Schwarzkopf x8875 Division of Biology & Biological Engineering

Postdoctoral Scholars

  • Dr. Lisa Hochrein x8875 Division of Biology & Biological Engineering
  • Vikas Trivedi Division of Biology & Biological Engineering

Graduate Students

  • Aneesh Acharya Bioengineering
  • Mark Fornace Chemistry
  • Mikhail Hanewich-Hollatz Bioengineering
  • Naeem Husain Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
  • Nick Porubsky Chemical Engineering

Undergraduate Researchers

  • Andrew Hou Bioengineering

Research Technician

  • Colby Calvert x8839 Division of Biology & Biological Engineering

Administrative Assistant

  • x8834 Division of Biology & Biological Engineering


Postdoctoral Scholars

  • Dr. Jonathan Sternberg 7/2013-6/2014
  • Dr. Jeffrey Vieregg 2/2008-10/2013 Senior Research Scientist, Institute for Molecular Engineering, University of Chicago
  • Dr. Tobias Heinen 11/2010-3/2012 Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Bonn
  • Dr. Victor Beck 12/2007-1/2012 Research Staff, PARC
  • Dr. Peng Yin 2005-09 Assistant Professor, Harvard Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School
  • Dr. Justin Bois 2007 Lecturer in Biology & Biological Engineering, Caltech
  • Dr. Jennifer Padilla 2004-07 Assistant Research Professor, Materials Science & Engineering, Boise State University
  • Dr. Robert Dirks 2005-06 Research Scientist, DE Shaw Research; deceased
  • Dr. Jong-Shik Shin 2002-06 Assistant Professor, Department of Biotechnology, Yonsei University, South Korea

Graduate Students

  • Dr. Brian Wolfe PhD, Bioengineering, 2014 Software Engineer, iRobot
  • Dr. Lisa Hochrein PhD, Chemical Engineering and Biology, 2013 Postdoctoral Scholar, Caltech
  • Dr. Maayan Schwarzkopf PhD, Biology, 2013 Research Scientist, Caltech
  • Dr. Jonathan Sternberg PhD, Bioengineering, 2013
  • Dr. Joe Zadeh PhD, Bioengineering, 2010 Product Lead, Airbnb
  • Dr. Harry Choi PhD, Bioengineering, 2009 Molecular Instruments Research Scientist, Caltech
  • Dr. Jon Othmer PhD, Applied & Computational Mathematics, 2008 Research Associate, Morgan Stanley
  • Dr. Justin Bois PhD, Chemical Engineering, 2007 Lecturer in Biology & Biological Engineering, Caltech
  • Dr. Robert Dirks PhD, Chemistry, 2005 Research Scientist, DE Shaw Research; deceased


  • Yoon Lee 2015 Applied & Computational Mathematics
  • Rachael Morton 2015 Computer Science
  • Siva Gangavarapu 2015 Bioengineering
  • Annie Chen 2015 Bioengineering
  • Jocelyn (Josie) Kishi 2014 Computer Science
  • Aditya Bhagavathi 2013 Chemical Engineering
  • Eli Weinstein 2013 Chemistry and Physics, Harvard University
  • Tianjia (Jessie) Ge 2012
  • Kanenori (Kane) Okamoto 2011
  • Fei Chen 2010 Electrical Engineering and Biology
  • Arjun Ravikumar 2010 Bioengineering
  • Asif Khan 2009 Electrical Engineering
  • Alex Hudson 2008 Applied Physics
  • Connie Gao 2008 Chemical Engineering
  • Sarah Hunt 2008 Chemical Engineering
  • Fabian Dias 2007,2008 Mathematics
  • Max Grazier G'Sell 2007 Physics
  • Jiaqi Guo 2007 Applied Physics
  • Cole Johnson 2006 Biomedical Engineering, Tulane
  • Baixue Zheng 2005
  • Timothy Wannier 2003, 2004 Biology, U Penn
  • Isaac See 2002
  • Milo Lin 2002
  • Ryan Simkovsky 2000
Lab Retreat 2010
group photo of lab members
Jeff, Naeem, Lisa, Colby, Jonathan, Suvir, Fei, Conrad, Brian
Clara, Niles, Harry, Victor
Lab Retreat, September 2007
group photo of lab members
Joe, Peng, Jon, Harry, Melinda, Colby, Joann, Suvir, Fabian, Max, Wes, Lisa, Niles, Maayan
Big Lebowski bowling night, July 2007
group photo of lab members
Max, Peng, Niles, Jon, Suvir, Justin, Drew, Joe, Colby, Maayan, Fabian, Joann, Lisa, Melinda
A memorably early hike, June 2007
group photo of lab members
Niles, Justin, Joe, Jon, Jennifer, Colby, Max, Joann, Harry, Peng, Fabian, Suvir
We mourn the loss of Robert Dirks, who tragically lost his life in the Metro-North train crash in New York on February 3, 2015. Robert made seminal contributions to the emerging disciplines of molecular programming and dynamic nucleic acid nanotechnology, providing the first experimental demonstration of conditional nucleic acid self-assembly, and developing computational algorithms that enable researchers around the world to analyze and design programmable molecular systems. Robert was brilliant, fun-loving, creative, and generous; he was a model scientist, collaborator, and friend. We will miss him and always remember him with fondness, gratitude, and respect.