Inside Inscripta: Julie Chaves, Applications Development

Our Inscripta family wouldn’t be the same without talented scientists like Julie Chaves, who works on the applications development team at our Pleasanton facility. She holds a bachelor’s in Integrative Biology and a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and joined the company earlier this year.

What’s your role at Inscripta?

I’m on the microbial side of the applications development team, and we function as an internal customer. We get to test out the Onyx™ instrument and come up with customer-relevant applications.

What brought you to Inscripta?

During my postdoc I was engineering Pseudomonas strains for biofuel production and trying to do really high-throughput strain engineering. That’s exactly what Inscripta does, but with a much easier-to-use tool. I was drawn by the technology because I’d never seen anything like it. If I weren’t working here, I’d probably be an Inscripta customer.

How did you get into the genome editing field?

During my undergrad program I got interested in plant biology and took a class on environmental remediation. That was my first look at how you could use biology as a technology outside of medicine and I thought it was really neat. One of the professor’s postdocs gave a presentation about her work engineering cyanobacteria to make the chemical isoprene, which is used in rubber. I was so fascinated that I decided to work in that professor’s lab, and the isoprene effort turned into my PhD project.

If you could use genome engineering to address any challenge, what would you choose?

CO2 fixation. There is so much potential for using it to address climate change — and, more broadly, environmental remediation technology.

What’s the best career advice you have to share?

One of my favorite experiences in my career was making the decision to spend a couple of years living and working far away from home, in a culture that’s very different than what I grew up in. It was really awesome and mind-opening. That kind of experience is extremely beneficial.

What did you do as a kid that you wish you could do more as an adult?

Play! I miss having boundless imagination.

What’s your favorite vacation?

Some of my favorite vacations have just been long weekends that I would take with my husband driving somewhere a couple of hours away, even to a small unknown town in the southeast that nobody’s really heard of. We’d just spend a couple of days relaxing and exploring the town.