Julius Lucks, PhD

2001 Hertz Fellow
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Julius B. Lucks is Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Co-Director of the Center for Synthetic Biology at Northwestern University.

Lucks received his PhD in chemical physics from Harvard University as a Hertz Fellow, and transitioned to synthetic biology as a Miller Fellow at UC Berkeley. He is a leader in RNA research and synthetic biology, focusing on developing technologies that tackle global challenges, most recently in the area of global water insecurity.

Professor Lucks has been recognized with a number of awards including a DARPA Young Faculty Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship, an ONR Young Investigator Award, an NIH New Innovator Award, an NSF CAREER award, the ACS Synthetic Biology Young Investigator Award, a Camille-Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award, a finalist for the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists, named to the college of fellows in the American Institute of Medical and Biomedical Engineers, and most recently awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in biology.

He also leads the first NSF graduate training program in synthetic biology, is a founding member of the Engineering Biology Research Consortium, and co-founded the Cold Spring Harbor Synthetic Biology Summer Course. He is a co-founder of Stemloop, Inc. which aims to use cell free biosensing technology to empower people with information about the health of themselves and their environment.

Graduate Studies

Harvard University
Biophysics of Polynucleotide Unzipping, Viral Codon Usage and Crystalline Defects

Undergraduate Studies

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


2023 Guggenheim Fellow, Biology

2022 Phi Lambda Upsilon Award Lecture, University of Nebraska

2022- American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) College of Fellows For “discovering RNA folding principles related to understanding and treating disease, and engineering synthetic biology diagnostics for global health.”

2020 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, Finalist Life Sciences

2017 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award

2016 ACS Synthetic Biology Young Investigator Award

2016 Northwestern Searle Leadership Award

2015 NSF CAREER Award

2015 Cornell College of Engineering Mr. and Mrs. Richard F. Tucker `50 Teaching Award

2013 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award

2013 Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator

2013 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship

2012 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award

2012 James C. and Rebecca Q. Morgan Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow

2008-2011 Miller Research Fellow, University of California, Berkeley

2002-2007 John and Fannie Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellow

2002 Robert Karplus Prize Fellowship in Chemical Physics, Harvard University

2001 Winston Churchill Scholarship, Churchill College, Cambridge University