User:Deniz C. Aksel

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About Me

Deniz at the Beach
  • Residence: Theta Chi
  • Home: Istanbul, Turkey

I'm a member of the Class of 2016 at MIT, studying Biological Engineering. I'm originally from Istanbul, Turkey, but have moved to Boston for my college education. I am very interested in the idea of developing fundamental tools for Biological Engineering and Synthetic Biology, both on wet and dry platforms. I currently work in the Synthetic Neurobiology Group in the Media Lab as a UROP Student.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, BS, 2016

  • Major: Biological Engineering
  • Minor: Mechanical Engineering

German High School of Istanbul, High School, 2012

Research interests

  1. Bioinstrumentation and Automation of Biological Experiments: I believe that the future of Biological Engineering as an engineering field depends on an increase in reproducibility of results and products, which can mainly be achieved through automated and unbiased experiments. Plus, robots are really cool!
  2. Synthetic Biology: Synthetic Biology and the idea of using cells as factories for a large variety of substances is fascinates me. I am very interested in how many labs at MIT, like the Voigt and Lu Labs, have incorporated simple circuit elements into the chaotic environment of cells. Combining these fundamental tools to make more complicated systems is also very interesting
  3. Neurobiology
  4. Medical Devices and Implants

Other Interests and Hobbies

  1. Music, both playing and listening. I'm particularly interested in funk.
  2. Rock Climbing
  3. Accessible design: I was part of a really cool program called Open Style Lab last summer!

Useful links

Registration/Questionnaire: 20.109 Fall 2014

Last Name


First Name

Deniz Cihat

Preferred name/nickname (if not first)



Major: Biological Engineering Minor: Mechanical Engineering

Year of Graduation


Telephone # (needed in case we can't find you!)

(617) 583-2633


daksel at mit dot edu

Preferred "Extra" OH Time

We will take a doodle poll to set regular office hours based upon T/R or W/F section. However, we do offer supplemental office hours before big assignments are due.

What times on Sundays (all), Mondays (T/R section), and Tuesdays (W/F section) are you available for occasional office hours? We have held office hours in the evening in the past, but day time slots are best.

Mondays: 12pm-5pm Sundays: All day

Potentially Relevant Background

Have you taken/are you taking... Answer yes/no/when
7.05/5.07 (Biochemistry) yes/S14
7.06 (Cell Biology) no/S15
7.03 (Genetics) yes/F13
5.310 (General Chemistry Lab) no
BioSafety Training yes

Do you have experience with... Answer yes/no/type
Cell culture (microbial/mammalian/yeast?) yes, all
Molecular biology (electrophoresis, PCR, etc) yes

Please briefly describe any previous laboratory experience

I took an accelerated intro Biology lab class at the University of Chicago summer of my junior year in high school. The course was called Research in Biological Sciences (RIBS). I became familiar with many biochem/mol. bio. methods during this program including PCR, electrophoresis, mammalian cell culture, fluorescence microscopy, RNA interference, and some very basic work with C. elegans.

I went back the following year to work with a post doc in Prof. Stephen Kron's lab. During my time there, I worked on the chaperone protein Hsp70, and it's homolgue in yeast, Sis1. My supervisors research focused on understanding how phosphorylation sites might be responsible for Hsp70's interaction with co-chaperones, and how mutations at these sites might lead to changes in interaction levels, affecting cell stability under heat stress. Hsp70 function has also been linked to cancer, since the protein is responsible for a large number of tasks in the cell. My main work here was in yeast, and I became very familiar with yeast culture, transformation, and methods like site directed mutagenesis. I did some western blotting and flow cytometry, but only once or twice.

I worked briefly in Prof. Tim Lu's lab during my time at MIT, where I learned a lot about synthetic biology. Many of the methods we used were ones I was already familiar with through my past experiences, but the circuit theory and purpose was very new to me.

I now work in the Synthetic Neurobiology Lab, but my work is mostly on hardware. I am developing a fully automated, image guided patch clamping device. I do mostly coding and hardware design, but also have learned how to patch cells manually, and have done mammalian cell culture again (currently only with HEK cells).

Anything else you would like us to know related to 20.109?

For example, please let us know if you have any special glove requests, namely XS or XL size, or nitrile material -- we carry latex S/M/L by default.

What is your favorite food or song or song about food?

Cut the Cake - Average White Band

Commitment to academic integrity

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I have read and understood the 20.109 statement on collaboration and integrity.