Our Mission

Foster entrepreneurship in the UC Berkeley postdoctoral community, making healthy collaborations within the University of California community to move innovations from the laboratory to the marketplace.

We aim to:

  • Provide postdocs with an entrepreneurship toolkit. 
  • Collaborate with local business leaders to foster mentoring.
  • Assist in the building of (bio-)technology start-up companies.
  • Provide an information platform bridging technology and commercialization.
  • Assemble cross-disciplinary teams (scientists and MBAs) to compete in the UC Berkeley Business Plan Competition (Bplan).

Our History

We are the Berkeley Postdoc Entrepreneur Program (BPEP), made for, by, and of postdocs at UC Berkeley.  We are passionate about educating postdocs on entrepreneurship, fostering collaborations with scientists, faculty, MBAs and the entrepreneur community in the Bay area. In November 2010, Naresh Sunkara came up with the idea of establishing an organization aimed at fostering entrepreneurship amongst postdocs. Upon receiving enthusiastic support from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Visiting Scholars and Postdoc Affairs (VSPA) office, he collaborated and set up an advisory board of faculty members from UC Berkeley, QB3, and the Lester center for entrepreneurship. In April 2011, fellow postdocs, Justin Elstrott, Fenna Sillé and Xiaoqi Feng, who share the same values and ambition, joined him to run the program. This terrific team of postdocs with the guidance of the advisory board has laid a strong foundation for entrepreneurial aspirations of scientists at UC Berkeley. We partnered with LBNL and added another exciting group of scientists to the fold. As the goals and reach of BPEP evolved, Bahram Bahrami and Niranjana Nagarajan joined the BPEP committee in January 2012.

With the expansion of the team, BPEP has been able to extend its base beyond informational seminars. In the summer of 2012, BPEP successfully hosted it’s first all-day intensive workshop. And in the fall of 2012, BPEP launched it’s official website, which serves as a portal to the entrepreneurial resources on campus and beyond.

Our People and Team

The Executive Committee

We are a group of postdocs with diverse backgrounds. 

Tyler Troy

Tyler is a postdoctoral fellow at the Advanced Light Source where he pursues answers to fundamental questions regarding excited-state reaction dynamics and multi-photon processes.

Naresh Sunkara

Naresh Sunkara has a Ph.D.in Organic Chemistry, and is a Visiting Scholar and Special Advisor to the Vice Chancellor for Research at UC Berkeley.

Arvin Gouw

Arvin Gouw is an alumnus of Berkeley, Hopkins, and Penn. After completing his PhD in cancer biology, his current research at Stanford and Berkeley is on metabolism.

Robert Jalali

Robert is a Visiting Scholar at Haas from the University of Cambridge. His research is on US housing finance. He has consulted for the World Bank and has started several companies in the US and in Europe.

Michaela Huffman

Michaela Huffman has a Ph.D. in biological anthropology and is conducting her postdoctoral research in the Integrative Biology Department at UC Berkeley.

Luiz Marcio Spinosa

Visiting Scholar at Haas School of Business, Full Professor at PUC in Brazil, Researcher in Innovation. More than 40 projects with industry and published more than 70 articles/papers.

Lance Brockway

Lance Brockway has a PhD in Chemical Engineering and is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Mechanical Engineering Department.

Jiahao Wang

Jiahao Wang is a Jr. research specialist at EECS UC Berkeley. He is the creator of Huula and Yeah, why?.

Ioana L. Aanei

Chemistry, graduate student liaison for BPEP.

Mark Kline

Mark Kline is a PhD chemist, molecular engineer, and entrepreneur conducting his post doctoral research at The Molecular Foundry, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Antoine Wojdyla

Antoine Wojdyla holds a PhD in Optics and is currently at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where his work focuses on EUV Lithography, the next step in microchip fabrication technology.

Aislan Foina

An electronic engineer addicted to technology looking for new challenges every day. Entrepreneur and explorer, with more than 50 engineering and software projects already developed.

Taghreed Alsaraj

Dr. Al-Saraj is a best selling author who is currently the first Saudi female Post Doc at UC Berkeley and is a fellow at the Berkeley Language Center.


Former members of the Executive Committee

Xiaoqi (Michelle) Feng has a Ph.D.in plant development biology and did her postdoctoral work in Plant and Microbial Biology at Cal.  Justin Elstrott has a Ph.D. in neurobiology and was a postdoctoral researcher at the UC Berkeley MCB department. Florian Forster was a postdoctoral fellow in entrepreneurship at Haas Business School.  Bahram Bahrami has a Ph.D in biomedical engineering, and is a Project Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs. Ariane Zambiras was a Fulbright Fellow in the Sociology Department.  Niranjana Nagarajan has a Ph.D. in immunology, and is now a senior scientist at Pfizer.  Jiechao Li is an alumnus from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and an Entrepreneur.  Fenna Sillé has a Ph.D. in immunology, and is conducting her postdoctoral research at the School of Public Health.  Alicia Robb has a Ph.D. in economics and was a visiting scholar at Coleman Fung Institute of Engineering Leadership (UC Berkeley).  Magdalena Strzelecka has a PhD in molecular, cell and developmental biology, and postdoctoral experience in genomics, computer vision and data science.  Aditya Gottumukkala has a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and was a postdoctoral researcher at LBNL.  Joerg Firnkorn has a Ph.D. in Business and worked as a Research Fellow (DFG) at UC Berkeley.  Shenshen Hu has a Ph.D in Organic Chemistry, and is conducting her postdoctoral research at Department of Chemistry & QB3 Institute at UC Berkeley.  Bharat Medasani has a PhD in Physics and is a postdoc in the computational research division, LBNL.  Lukas Buchmann is a postdoctoral scholar at the Physics Department (UC Berkeley).  


Advisory Board

Our advisory board provide valuable input to our programs, connect us to resources in the Bay Area and the rest of the country, and are much-welcome participants at our events. Peter Fiske, entrepreneur and author, was a consultant to BPEP and still plays an important part in our programs. Sam Castañeda was instrumental in founding of BPEP, and continues to provide valuable support for our programs through the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.  The other members of our board continue to advise us, and provide their unique expertise and those who participate in our programs.

  •      Peter Fiske, CEO, PAX Water, Inc. 
  •      Braden Penhoet, Executive Director for Innovation, Policy and Law, UC Berkeley Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research 
  •      Sam Castañeda, Director, Visiting Scholar and Postdoc Affairs, UC Berkeley
  •      Beverly Alexander, Director, Cleantech to Market Program, Haas School of Business
  •      Douglas Crawford, Associate Director, QB3, UCSF; Managing Partner at Mission Bay Capital
  •      Ilan Gur, Professor, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley
  •      Andre Marquis, Executive Director, Lester Center for Entrepreneurship
  •      Dushyant Pathak, Associate Vice Chancellor, Technology Management and Corporate Relations, UC Davis
  •      Bill Shelander, Entrepreneur and Business Development at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.