Professional Staff

Our highly-trained staff includes:


Dr. Mark Arnold is the Edwin B. Green Chair Professor in Laser Chemistry at the University of Iowa. He started as an assistant professor at the University in 1982 after completing his doctorate degree at the University of Delaware. He was an original member of the “Biocats” and has remained a strong proponent of the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing since its conception. 

His research centers on novel chemical sensors and he is an expert in the use of near infrared absorption spectroscopy for in situ analytical measurements in complex biological systems. Examples include the noninvasive measurement of glucose in people with diabetes and the real-time monitoring of hemodialysis during treatments for people with end-stage renal failure.  His research program also explores the analytical utility of terahertz time-domain spectroscopy (THz-TDS) for characterization of organic cocrystals as well as formulations to stabilize proteins.

In the spirit of translational research and economic development, Professor Arnold has teamed with others to create ASL Analytical, Inc. for the purpose of commercializing near infrared sensing technology for the real-time monitoring of targeted analytes within industrial processes. Examples include continuous, real-time monitors for tracking the concentrations of glycerol and methanol as well as the concentrations of glucose and lactate during production of biotherapeutics proteins through bioprocesses with Pichia pastoris and CHO mammalian cells, respectively.

Director of Operations

Dr. Elizabeth R. Gibson graduated from the University of Iowa in 2007 with a Ph.D. in Chemistry. She has more than a decade of laboratory and research experience in spectroscopic measurements, chemometrics, fermentation and cell culture techniques, and downstream processing. Prior to joining CBB, she worked for a biotechnology start-up where her efforts were focused on the development and application of analytical tools for real-time fermentation monitoring. She also acted as the technical manager and project coordinator for customers and R&D collaborators, and has served as the principal investigator on multiple Phase I & II SBIR grants. She joined CBB in 2017 and is currently a member of the staff, focusing primarily on downstream processes, analytical characterization, and fermentation operations in both the RPD and cGMP facilities.

Director of Quality Assurance 

Mary M. Garner earned a B.L.S. degree at Iowa State University in 2003. She gained valuable skills in both upstream and downstream bioprocessing as a Research Assistant at the CBB.  Mary transitioned into the quality department in 2007 and currently serves as the Director of the CBB Quality Team, where her efforts focus on establishing and implementing quality operations associated with Phase I cGMP manufacturing of bio-based chemicals for an array of clients. 


Microbial Biomanufacturing Facilities-Staff

Eric Brosch
Eric Brosch has a B.A. degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Chemistry and an Entrepreneurial Management Certificate. With two years of experience working on the fermentation team, helping to scale up products and develop processes has been one of his favorite parts of his work at CBB. Being a snail enthusiast with four pet snails, he loves to learn about these incredible yet mysterious invertebrates. In his spare time, he volunteers at the food pantry as a delivery driver.





Melissa Coeur
Melissa Coeur is the Safety and Training Coordinator, with 23 years of laboratory experience, 15 of which have been at the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing (CBB). Melissa received her Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry and psychology, along with a certification for teaching middle and high school science, from Coe College. She is always working to improve at her job and believes in the approach of “Work smarter not harder.” Melissa currently lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and enjoys reading and spending time with her dog.




Larry Dostal
Larry Dostal's major role at CBB is performing analytical chromatography in the form of HPLC (High Pressure Liquid Chromatography) to determine target product identity, amount of product, and when production is finished. In conjunction with HPLC, he performs various enzymatic assays for functionality determination of manufactured products. In addition to guiding other operators in the facility to operate larger scale LPLC (Low Pressure Liquid Chromatography), he partakes in other steps of the manufacturing process, including cell disruption using microfluidization, protein gel electrophoresis, and large-scale centrifugation. Larry describes his personality as being very detailed oriented, persistent, and creative. In his free time, he enjoys doing physical activities such as walking and floor exercises. Some of his other hobbies include reading and watching science fiction and nonfiction media, attending orchestra concerts in which his son performs, and spending time with his wife and cats.




Sarah Kasperbauer
Sarah Kasperbauer graduated with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry from Fordham University at Marymount College in 2000. She has extensive experience in bioprocessing and works in both fermentation and downstream operations at CBB. Sarah joined CBB in January 2009.





Philip Lashmit received a BS in Biochemistry with a minor in Chemistry from the University of Iowa in 1993. Philip gained a wide array of molecular biology experience in his 17 years studying transcription regulation in Human Cytomegalovirus (CMV) in the UI Department of Microbiology. He joined the CBB in July 2011 and was promoted to Fermentation Lead in 2021. Philip lives in North Liberty with his wife and 3 teenagers. When he is not fermenting, he likes woodworking and outdoor activities.

Wensheng Liu has an extensive background in analytical chemistry and more than 20 years experience in large scale fermentation and downstream processing.

Michelle Railsback has a B.S. in Chemistry from Iowa Wesleyan College. She brings more than 16 years experience in biotechnology and microbiology. This includes working for Cargill and Genencor International. Michelle's wide ranging experience and leadership skills are important assets to CBB. Michelle specializes in downstream processing at CBB.

Olga Rohner
Olga Rohner has a Master’s degree in Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals from Pyatigorsk Medical and Pharmaceutical Institute in Russia. Having worked in a pharmacy and a clinical laboratory, Olga studied the chemical composition of a medicinal plant called Elder Black ( Sambucus Nigra, L.). After moving to the USA, she joined The University of Iowa's Inflammation Research Program, working on the immune response of human neutrophils and macrophages to Helicobacter pylori. Before joining CBB in 2021 as a Research Assistant supporting both fermentation and downstream processes, Olga worked at Proctor and Gamble's microbiological laboratory in Iowa City. Outside of the lab, her hobbies include making natural skin care for her friends, needlework, gardening, and exploring Iowa outdoors. Olga has a pet – an African Grey parrot, who can say a few phrases in English and Russian if he feels like doing that.




Jiang-Rong Yao

Madison J. Owen has a BA in Psychology with a minor in Criminology, Law and Justice from The University of Iowa (2017), where she worked under Ryan LaLumiere as a research assistant studying drug-seeking behaviors in rodents using optogenetic methods. She served the Iowa City-Cedar Rapids area as a youth counselor and social worker before returning to The University of Iowa to pursue a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2023). She worked at IDT in the high-throughput quality control team, performing mass spectrometry, capillary electrophoresis and HPLC to analyze oligonucleotides. Maddi joined the CBB in 2023 as a research assistant, supporting the fermentation production and downstream analytical process teams. Maddi spends her time playing online PC games, seeking out new science fiction media, working on watercolor and ink projects, and experimenting with her electronic drumset.

Quality Assurance Team

Shawn Eyestone
Shawn Eyestone has a BA in Biology from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Post graduation, he spent four years in the Bay Area in California working for a company that manufactured in-vitro allergy diagnostics. After moving back to Iowa, he spent the next 23+ years at Integrated DNA Technologies in Coralville. At IDT, he worked in Quality Control running analytical assays for product quality. Other responsibilities were instrument and process validations.  He was responsible for a division of nearly 60 associates.  He is bringing that experience to the CBB to help grow and develop the quality systems to match the increased need for these services. Outside of work, he spent 5 years on the Iowa City Community School District Board of Directors including two years as President of the Board. He currently lives in North Liberty with his wife and two sons when they are home from college.



Troy McCarthy has a B.S. in Biology from the University of Iowa (1991). Prior to joining the CBB staff in 2008, Troy worked for 17 years as a research scientist exploring influenza and adenovirus typing and the roles of EGF-receptor and gender in fetal lung development.  At present, he is a member of the CBB Quality Team where he specializes in stringent quality control of all materials of goods associated with cGMP manufacturing, securing certifications for all process materials, and environmental monitoring. 

 Cassandra Handley

Research Facility

Associate Director 

Dr. Maria Spies
Dr. Maria Spies is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and holds secondary appointment in the Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Iowa CCOM. She is an Associate Director of Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing, and the PI on the NIH T32 predoctoral training grant in Biotechnology.  Trained as a biophysicist at the Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University (Russia), Maria Spies is a 2000 PhD graduate of Osaka University (Japan). After graduation she joined the lab of Steve Kowalczykowski at UC Davis where she was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow. Throughout her mentored studies Dr. Spies focused on molecular and structural mechanisms underlying homologous recombination in model organisms. Her doctoral work provided the first detailed biochemical characterization of the archaeal recombinase RadA, while in her postdoctoral work, Dr. Spies applied newly developed single-molecule optical tweezer and fluorescence microscopy approach to dissect the initial steps of bacterial recombination. This work established new paradigms in DNA double strand break processing by the RecBCD pathway. In 2005, Dr. Spies started her lab at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and was recruited to the University of Iowa in 2012. Her research program focuses on molecular machines maintaining genome stability and processing of non-canonical DNA structures, processes whose dysfunction leads to cancer, ageing, and neurogenerative and neuromuscular diseases. Her lab combines single-molecule biochemistry and structural biology with structure-based drug discovery. Her most notable accolades include Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist Award and Biophysical Society Margaret Oakley Dayhoff Award. She was a finalist for Iowa Women of Innovation Award and was named University of Iowa Health Care Distinguished Scholar. Dr. Spies contributes to profession though her service. She served as a permanent member, vice Chair and a Chair of the American Cancer Society DNA Mechanisms in Cancer Peer Review Panel, and currently chairs the NIH Macromolecular Structure and Function B study section. She is active in the Biophysical Society as a member of publications committee and was a chair of molecular Biophysics sub-group. Dr. Spies is an editorial board member of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and Nucleic Acids Research Journal. She is an Editor in Chief of the new journal in the Nucleic Acids Research family, NAR Molecular Medicine.
Administrative Staff

Mitchell Rotman joined CBB in 2010 as the CBB administrator. He also functions as the Accounting and Business Manager of the Microbial Biomanufactoring Facility.  Mitchell has Master Degrees in Chemistry, Business Administration, and Health and Hospital Management from the University of Iowa. Mitchell's previous experience includes serving as a research administrator for a clinical department, managing a customer-focused department within an academic health center as well as working in basic molecular biological research. In this position, Mitchell is integral on the business side of CBB working with all the financial and accounting issues. On the academic side, he is involved in the CBB/NIH fellowships and planning our annual conference. In additon, he maintains the website and provides support for all other business/office operations.

Christopher Evans