Mark Chee hails from the Republic of Singapore. He earned his undergraduate degrees in Biology and in Chemistry from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He chose to continue his graduate studies at Duke as a James B. Duke Fellow in the Structural Biology & Biophysics program. After earning his Ph.D. in Biology, he worked in the Duke Biology Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories to implement and improve lab exercises in undergraduate biology. He also developed a research program involving undergraduate students aimed at novel scientific discoveries in genetics and in microbiology. He was appointed as a faculty member in the Citizen Science Program at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson in 2014 before being selected as an American Society for Microbiology Science (ASM) Teaching Fellow for 2014–2015.
Using his prior experiences in research and education, Dr. Chee strives to give his students at Martin a hands-on, open-ended, discovery-based learning experience in biology. Dr. Chee is experienced in using genetic model organisms, including baker’s yeast and vinegar flies, to investigate fundamental questions in genetics, cell, and molecular biology.
At Martin, Dr. Chee actively conducts research with undergraduates that has potential biotech applications. His students are investigating novel bacteria and eukaryotic microbes isolated from Drosophila species flies that either form biofilms or interfere with biofilm formation by expressing biosurfactants. Of particular interest are bacteria with the potential to infect and kill specific insects as these have potential applications against insect pests in agriculture and infectious disease control. He and his students have presented their research at both national and local ASM meetings. Dr. Chee is also a member of the Society for Applied Microbiology in Britain.
Dr. Chee is also interested in the rapidly developing field of synthetic biology, and specifically in the genetic engineering of hemiascomycete yeasts with desirable properties for fermentation that can be applied to food and beverage production. The generation of biosensors that are economical and easy to use in a production setting is a key goal.