Sean Clarke, PhD



(617) 324-4564
Principal Lecturer



Sean Clarke first joined BE as a Ph.D. student in 2005, so he has seen the department’s evolution and expansion firsthand. After completing his thesis and a postdoc in Eric Alm’s lab, he worked on applied microbial challenges in two contexts: at the Cellars at Jasper Hill, an award-winning Vermont cheesemaker, and at Sample6, a startup using synthetic biology to solve food safety challenges.

Wanting to contribute to the innovative and inspiring BE community, Sean returned in 2016 to a dual position. Half of his work is as a communication instructor for the undergraduate communication-intensive lab and capstone courses. In conjunction, he has a new industry liaison role working to improve connections between BE and the thriving local biotech ecosystem.

The outreach role involves addressing the question: “What does a biological engineer do?” The answers come mainly from the stories of our MIT BE S.B. and Ph.D. graduates, who have distinguished themselves in a variety of remarkable careers in the short history of the department. Sean’s role involves promoting the unique abilities of BE students to the world, and at the same time, sharing with students the knowledge and practices that will help them succeed in their careers at workplaces of all scales, whether in biotech, pharma, non-profit, or other sectors.

Communication skills and collegiality are critical to that success, so Sean’s role in BE’s teaching faculty connects naturally. In collaboration with other instructors and the BE Communication Lab, he teaches students field-tested practices of clear and effective writing, speaking, and visual design in 20.109 (Lab Fundamentals in Biological Engineering) and 20.380 (Biological Engineering Design).

Sean is thrilled to serve the department in these new roles, which combine his experiences and interests for the benefit of current and future BE students.


Past areas of work and research

  • Food safety assay development
  • Cheese microbiology
  • Microbial ecology and evolution
  • Prophage dynamics and distribution
  • Design methodology