Soylent + uBiome Berkeley Project

Guest post by: Ryan Hsu


I’m Ryan Hsu, an undergraduate studying Microbial Biology and Computer Science at UC

Berkeley and a student researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab where I study human gut
bacteria. For me personally, the human microbiome has been a perfect realization of my
interests in both microbiology and computer science.

I conduct research in the Arkin Laboratory under the mentorship of post-doc Ophelia Venturelli,
where we’ve been exploring the quantitative dynamics of human microbiome assemblies. We’re
trying to reverse engineer human microbiome communities by first breaking down larger
complex communities into small, more easily understood communities, then slowly adding
complexity and understanding how they change. We use next-generation sequencing, just like
uBiome, to measure the compositions of our communities. It’s a very rewarding combination of
both cell culturing experiments and computational biology work.

I’ve known about uBiome for while, and sometimes I think it sounds like science fiction. It’s
amazing that for under a hundred dollars, we can now sequence the community of bacteria
inside of a person. The ease of use of uBiome’s kits really brings this cutting edge technology to
individuals at home, but I also believe that its accessibility enables a completely new type of
undergraduate led health study.

Together, the exciting field of microbiome research and the uBiome platform create a really
great opportunity for undergraduates. I’ve started an undergraduate student organization at UC
Berkeley with Dylan McCormick, Kate Schreiner, and Mitchell Seitz jr. The organization,
Mycrobes, is dedicated to promoting and discussing current microbiome research, as well as
conducting an annual microbiome study using uBiome’s kits.


Our first project is to characterize the effect of Soylent consumption on microbiome
compositions. We are running a crowdfunding campaign at in order to fund this project. Feel free to check it out!
Backers of the campaign will receive regular updates on our progress, and the results as we get
them. We really appreciate your support and am very excited for everything we’ll find out
togethe with uBiome!