No matter what you do, you first have to have a vision… to see your goal, to believe in it, have faith in it and chase it. And then it’s fun to chase it. If you don’t have a goal or a vision, then you have nothing.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

One of the first things Chris will ask you when join the Johnston lab is “What is your exit strategy? What is your scientific vision for yourself when you leave this lab?”.

Once we figure that out, we can get to work on it. We continue to be especially proud of the lab alumni who have achieved that vision!


Javier Fernandez Juarez, Ph.D. (now Assistant Professor)


Javier joined our synthetic microbiology initiative as a staff research investigator in late 2016, after completing his postdoctoral research in the Church Lab at Harvard. At the Johnston Lab (Cambridge, MA) he sought to expand our SyngenicDNA platforms and create novel synthetic “kill-switch” circuits for biocontainment of engineered organisms.

He successfully transitioned to St. Johns University in 2019 as an Assistant Professor within the Biological Sciences Department. The new Juarez lab focuses on the construction of whole-cell biosensors that can be applied early detection of pollutants and disease biomarkers. We are super proud of his achievements!

Sean Cotton, MEng. (now Strain Engineer)


Sean (the first official alumnus of the Johnston lab) spent close to 2 years working with us as our staff scientist, figuring out and single-handedly running our PacBio sequencer, honing his synthetic micro skills, and driving our CRISPR projects forward. He began his new career with Synlogic Therapeutics as a Strain Engineer in 2019! We miss him on the West Coast!


Stephany Flores-Ramos, BA. (now Graduate Researcher)


Stephany joined as a joint research technician between the Johnston and the Lemon lab at Forsyth Institute. She trained for two years in computational approaches to elucidate the role of Dolosigranulum pigrum as a commensal/health promoting bacterium within the human nasal tract. She performed pan-genomic analysis on nasal isolates and studied its antagonism with Staphylococcus aureus. Steph started grad school enrolled in a Bioinformatics and Systems Biology program at UC San Diego. We wish her great success over the coming years!


Andy Kempchinsky, BSc. (now Graduate Researcher)


Andy joined the lab in Cambridge as a research technician to help out Sean and Arnold with our PacBio SMRTseq efforts. From there he transitioned to a Masters program in Biomedical engineering at Queen Mary University of London in the UK. There he is studying microbial colonization of plastics and antifouling materials. You wouldn’t know it from his picture, but he is very happy with his new life in Europe! Come see us in Seattle Andy!




Hermoine Jean Venter, Ph.D. (University of Tromso)


Hermoine joined the Johnston lab as a visiting postdoctoral researcher from the University of Tromsø in northern Norway. She trained in SyngenicDNA techniques to break through the genetic defenses of Staphylococcus haemolyticus; a commensal of the skin flora that is also an important hospital pathogen and carrier of multi-drug resistance genes. She also won a big hamper of goodies from the Fred Hutch, which was tasty!




Sima Website
Sina Abraham.
Deepti Website
Deepti Srinivasan.