Who We Are

Our Mission

To foster entrepreneurship among UC Berkeley’s postdocs and graduate students, through education, awareness, and hands-on opportunities. We connect aspiring entrepreneurs with mentors, resources, and partners. Situated in a vibrant business climate and with access to the greatest pool of postdoc talent in the world, BPEP catalyzes productive collaboration on scientifically complex challenges with lasting economic benefits.

Our Team

The Executive Committee 2020-2021

We are a group of postdocs and visiting scholars with diverse backgrounds. 

Naresh Sunkara

Dr. Naresh Sunkara

Visiting Scholar & Post-doc Affairs (VSPA), UC Berkeley


Naresh Sunkara is a Visiting Scholar and previously a postdoctoral scientist at UC Berkeley who worked on developing novel technologies for delivery of RNAi therapeutics for fighting viral infections. Naresh is the founder and currently the Executive Director of the Berkeley Postdoctoral Entrepreneurship Program and the Berkeley Science Fellows Program. Naresh works closely with the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and the Intellectual Property and Industry Alliances Office (IPIRA) and is a Special Advisor to the Vice Chancellor for Research (Postdoctoral affairs). He has experience founding and working with several startups. He is currently the COO for BioAmp Diagnostics.

Saad Mouti

Dr. Saad Mouti 
Consortium for Data Analytics in Risk (CDAR)

Saad Mouti completed his Ph.D in Financial and Actuarial Mathematics at Pierre and Marie Curie University in 2017. Prior to that, he obtained a financial engineering diploma from the National School of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science of Grenoble in 2010 and an M.Sc. in Statistical Processing of Information from Paris-Dauphine University in 2011. Saad’s thesis was funded by AXA to address different financial risks for the life insurance industry englobing pricing and hedging of life insurance products, policyholders’ behavior, rough volatility modeling, and market impact. His current research interests include SRI investing, market impact and volatility modeling and forecasting.

Prof. Alexandre Graeml
Federal University of Technology, Brazil

Alexandre is a full professor in the Business Administration and the Applied Computing graduate programs at the Federal University of Technology - Parana, in Brazil. He was a visiting scholar at UCB in 2018-2019 and keeps involved with the BPEP program since. He is currently supporting the generation of multimedia material based on the events BPEP organizes.


Dr. William Porterfield 

William received his PhD from UC Irvine studying and improving bioluminescent systems for in vivo imaging. Moved on to a post-doc at UC Berkeley in Wenjun Zhang's lab where he worked on engineering and elucidating biosynthetic pathways. At UC Berkeley he got involved with BPEP and worked with the SkyDeck fellows program. He is currently a biochemistry scientist at a small biotech company working on enzyme engineering for a variety of applications.

Ms. Sonja Salo 
Aalto University School of Engineering 

Sonja is a visiting student researcher from Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland. Her research focuses on the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) in sustainable energy systems and smart buildings. Her articles have dealt with thermal comfort during demand response events with radiator thermostats, and she is applying this experience at CBE to learn more about thermal comfort and smart control. Currently she is processing thermostat data for the EPIC fan project. As a Fulbright grantee her mission is to foster cultural understanding between Finland and the United States.

Mr. Benson Jung
Materials Science & Engineering, UC Berkeley

Benson is a PhD student working with Prof. Ting Xu on a nanocarrier platform for drug delivery to the brain. 

Dr. Tran Dong 
UC Berkeley

Dr. Dong P. Tran is a research scholar at UC Berkeley who is analyzing policies that promote/foster the deployment of electric vehicles (EV) aiming at reducing air pollution and climate change from transportation. Dr. Tran holds a PhD focused on sustainability environment decision-making and MSc in marine science. He was a senior officer in environmental protection and safety with over 25 years of experience

Dr. Srinidhi Bheesette 
Detector development group, LBNL 

Srinidhi Bheesette (Shri) is an experimental physicist working at the Berkeley lab. He specialises in the development and the characterisation of detectors for laser and medical imaging. He pursued his PhD at the University of Otago, Christchurch, NZ in collaboration with Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at CERN, Geneva, Switzerlanad on the CMS-NZ Medipix project. He enjoys hiking, camping and long drives during his free time.


Dr. Yan Zhang 

Yan joined Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Dec 2018 as a NERSC Postdoctoral Fellow working on machine learning related scientific applications. He is currently working on using deep learning models to analyze spatial-temporal data (fMRI images of human brain) on HPC systems. Yan has a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering at Northeastern University, Boston, MA where he worked on using signal processing and x-ray scattering techniques to study biomacromolecular structures in biomass. After graduation, he worked at Argonne National Laboratory on machine learning and smart sampling for scanning electron microscopy. Yan also worked at Seagate Technology and Rudolph Technology as interns on SEM and AFM image analysis during graduate school.

Ajay Photo

Dr. Ajay B Harish
Civil & Environmental Engineering, UC Berkeley


Ajay B Harish is a developer at the SimCenter and Post-doc at the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley. He obtained a Ph.D in Mechanical Engineering from Leibniz University Hannover (Germany); Masters in Aeronautics from California Institute of Technology (USA) and a Bachelor from NITK Surathkal (India). He has been a part of three start-up companies over the last decade. 

Dr. Alireza Saatchi 

Alireza Saatchi.

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.