Who We Are

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 People and Team

The Executive Committee

We are a group of postdocs with diverse backgrounds. 

BPEP Board 2017

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 is a postdoc in oncology at Standford University and the Director of BeHEARD.

Mark Kline has seen early success in his start-up  X-Therma Inc. thanks to lessons learned from BPEP.

Antoine Wojdyla is a postdoctoral fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the Center for X-Ray Optics, where he develops the tools for the next-generation of microchip fabrication (EUV lithography) for industry-leading semiconductor companies.

Nieves Martinez Marshall is a postdoc in Molecular Cell Biology at UC Berkeley.

Dusan Licina is a postdoc in Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley.

Kaiyang Niu is a postdoc in physics at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Josh Ceribelli is a Master student in Civil Engineering at UC Berkeley.

Balthazar Lechene is a postdoc in the EECS Department at UC Berkeley where he works on printed electronics.

Alireza Saatchi is a visiting student researcher in Materials Sci. & Eng. at UC Berkeley.

Benson Jung is a Ph.D. student in Materials Sci. & Eng. at 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.

  •      Sam Castañeda, Director, Visiting Scholar and Postdoc Affairs, UC Berkeley
  •    Peter Fiske, CEO, PAX Water, Inc.
  •    Erol Arkilic, M34 Capital, former founder of NSF I-Corps

Former members include :   Braden Penhoet (Executive Director for Innovation, Policy and Law, UC Berkeley Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research), 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)

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.


We are indebted to all those who helped us along the years, and went on to discover new skies !

Former members of the Executive Committee

Lance Brockway, PhD is now founder of Nelumbo, which produces super-hydrophobic coatings, Boroka Bo is a graduate student in sociology at UC Berkeley. Johannes Schöneberg,PhD is a postdoc continuing his research in experimental molecular membrane biochemistry, Michaela Huffman, PhD is a postdoc in Integrative Biology.  Tyler Troy, PhD, is a postdoc in Chemical Dymanics at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Ioana Aanei is finishing her PhD in Chemistry, Robert Jalali, PhD is a lecturer at UC Davis Graduatate School of Management, Aislan Foinan, PhD is working on software for autonomous vehicles, and Taghreed Al-Saraj, PhD is working for the government in Saudi Arabia.

Tyler Troy Michaela Huffman Lance Brockway    

Ioana Aanei Aislan Foinan

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).  


Justin Elstrott, Ph.D

kasjdkf dkjdddddd ddddddddddd ddddddddddFlorian ForsterJiechao LiAlicia Robb

  Niranjana Nagarajan  Ariane Zambiras Bharat Medasani

Magdalena Strzelecka    Aditya Gottumukkala  Joerg Firnkorn   Lukas

 Shenshen Hu