Rebecca Caruso

Rebecca Caruso is the Director of the Harvard Medical School Committee on Microbiological Safety and the recipient of the Daniel D. Federman Staff Award for Exceptional Service at the Harvard Medical School in 2020.

Rebecca oversees close to 2,000 active biological research projects and over 300 new projects each year involving regulated and high risk biological materials. Between 2002 through 2010, Rebecca was deeply involved in developing biosafety procedures, training programs, design and operational procedures, and biosafety oversight for the National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratory at Boston University. Rebecca also served as the Biosafety Manager and Alternate Responsible Official for the Federal Select Agent Program at Boston University. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Rebecca facilitated a rapid review process for biosafety protocols to support the academic mission of Harvard Medical School. Since 2016, Rebecca has been Co-Chair of the Scientific Program Committee for the Harvard Yale Symposium which brings together a wide range of topics, speakers and attendees to discuss cutting-edge issues in science and technology. 

Rebecca obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Marist College, a Master’s degree in Public Health from UMASS Amherst, and is both a registered and certified biosafety professional with ABSA International. Rebecca has written several articles for Applied Biosafety as well as the Journal of Clinical and Translational Science, Environmental Science and Technology and Applied Environmental Microbiology.  

Rebecca has over 20 years of experience leading a diverse, professional workforce. She has presented at several national meetings, including the American Society for Microbiology and the American Biological Safety Association International. Rebecca supports women’s challenges in medicine and Co-Chaired the Joint Committee on the Status of Women at Harvard Medical School from 2016-2018.

Matt McKnight

Matt McKnight leads Biosecurity at Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE:DNA). Biosecurity is Ginkgo's business unit focused on national security and global pandemic response. Prior to building this platform, Matt spent 4 years as Ginkgo’s Chief Commercial Officer and 7 years as an investor at IndUS Growth Partners where he was also the President and COO of Decision Resources Group. Matt has worked supporting business development at Palantir Technologies and is an active venture investor. Early in his career, he served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. Matt completed a degree in History at Dartmouth College and is a graduate of the joint degree program at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government where he was a Zuckerman Fellow.

Dr. Kavita Berger

Dr. Kavita Berger is the Board Director of the Board on Life Science of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineeering, and Medicine. She is a life scientist with extensive experience in the addressing a diversity of technical, policy, national security, and societal issues associated with the life sciences and biotechnology. Dr. Berger leads and oversees the Board’s work across a variety of life science areas, including basic, applied, and emerging life sciences research; biotechnology research and convergence; bioeconomy-related research and development; biosecurity and biodefense; ecology and biodiversity; and integrated human, animal, plant, and ecological health. Prior to joining the National Academies, Dr. Berger was a principal scientist at Gryphon Scientific. There, she led numerous projects involving biotechnology landscape analyses, biosecurity and biodefense policy, risk and benefits of life science research and technologies, and international bioengagement. Dr. Berger was responsible for several biosecurity and biodefense initiatives at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, including a meeting series on topics ranging from health security to preventing biological weapons. A list of Dr. Berger’s publications is accessible through her MyNCBI bibliography. These efforts provided opportunities for scientists and security policy experts understand and consider broader implications of science and technology. Dr. Berger has a Ph.D. in genetics and molecular biology from Emory University 

Dr. Jaime Yassif

Dr. Jaime Yassif has 20 years of experience working at the interface of science, technology, public health, and international security within government and civil society. Yassif currently serves as NTI Vice President for Global Biological Policy and Programs, where she oversees the organization’s work to reduce catastrophic biological risks, strengthen biosecurity and pandemic preparedness, and drive progress in advancing global health security. Yassif previously served as a Program Officer at Open Philanthropy, where she led the Biosecurity and Pandemic Preparedness initiative, recommending and managing approximately $40 million in biosecurity grants, which rebuilt the field and supported work in several key areas. Prior to this, she served as a Science and Technology Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Defense and worked on the Global Health Security Agenda at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Yassif holds a Biophysics Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, an MA in Science and Security from the King’s College London War Studies Department, and a BA in Biology from Swarthmore College.  


Dr. Megan Palmer

Dr. Megan J. Palmer is Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford University where she previously served as the Executive Director of Bio Policy & Leadership Initiatives, leading programs to explore how biological science and engineering is shaping our societies, and to guide innovation to serve public interests.

Dr. Palmer has led many programs aimed at developing best practices and policies for the responsible development of bioengineering. She co-chairs the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Synthetic Biology, and was a member of the Council of the Engineering Biology Research Consortium (EBRC). For a decade she led social responsibility programs for the international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. She also served as Deputy Director of Policy and Practices for the multi-university National Science Foundation (NSF) Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (Synberc). She founded the Synthetic Biology Leadership Excellence Accelerator Program (LEAP) and serves on the board of directors of Revive & Restore.

Previously, Dr. Palmer was a Senior Research Scholar and William J. Perry Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford, of which she is now an affiliate. She was also a project scientist at the California Center for Quantitative Bioscience (QB3) at the University of California Berkeley and a postdoctoral scholar in the Bioengineering Department at Stanford University. Dr. Palmer received her Ph.D. in Biological Engineering from M.I.T. and a B.Sc.E. in Engineering Chemistry from Queen’s University, Canada.

Dr. Will So

Dr. William So is currently a Program Manager for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Directorate. His portfolio focuses on biological and national security policy. Will has been in this position since November 2019 and his policy experience spans another decade. He provides subject matter expertise in the field of biological sciences in the development of FBI policy and national policy, response plans, and biosecurity guidance, and interagency agreements.

Will joined the FBI in 2005, first as a Physical Scientist in the Laboratory Division, then transferred to the WMD Directorate in 2006. He represents the FBI and the United States Government in domestic and international fora on biosecurity, emerging technology, and policy matters. A graduate of The George Washington University, he received his Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology and a MS in Ecology.

Sam Weiss Evans

Sam Weiss Evans is a Senior Research Fellow in Harvard's Program on Science, Technology, and Society at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, jointly appointed as a Research Associate at the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is Co-Lead of the Trust in Science Project at Harvard, which analyzes the breakdowns in public trust in science, and to ask what steps could be taken to promote better mutual understanding. Dr. Evans sits on the Councils of the Engineering Biology Research Consortium and the Science and Democracy Network, and was a member of the Legal, Ethical, Environmental, Dual use, and Responsible innovation (LEEDR) advisory group to DARPAʼs Safe Genes program. He is a special advisor to the international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, where he has co-chaired the Human Practices Committee and also serves on the Safety and Security Committee. Dr. Evans has taught, conducted research, and helped build Science and Technology Studies (STS) programs at Oxford, Harvard, University of California, and Tufts. He completed his doctorate at Oxford University on the processes used to define and govern dual use research and technology within the international export control system.