Kevin M. Esvelt, Ph.D.
Leader, Sculpting Evolution Group,
Assistant Professor, MIT Media Lab
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Kevin M. Esvelt is an assistant professor of the MIT Media Lab, where he leads the Sculpting Evolution Group in exploring evolutionary and ecological engineering.

He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University for inventing a synthetic microbial ecosystem to rapidly evolve useful biomolecules, and subsequently helped pioneer the development of CRISPR, a powerful new method of genome engineering.

In 2013, Esvelt was the first to identify the potential for CRISPR “gene drive” systems to alter wild populations of organisms. Recognizing the implications of an advance that could enable individual scientists to alter the shared environment, he and his colleagues chose to break with scientific tradition by revealing their findings and calling for open discussion and safeguards before they demonstrated the technology in the laboratory.

At MIT, the Sculpting Evolution Group develops safer “daisy drives” that only spread locally, as well as ways of restoring populations to their original genetics. Together with the communities of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, they are advancing the “Mice Against Ticks” project aiming to prevent tick-borne disease. Other research interests include unraveling the workings of molecular evolution and reducing animal suffering. An outspoken advocate of freely sharing research plans to accelerate discovery and improve safety, Kevin seeks to use gene drive as a catalyst to reform the scientific ecosystem.

His work is frequently published in top scientific journals, including Nature and Science, and covered in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, PBS NOVA, and NPR.

Sculpting Evolution is currently supported by the MIT Media Lab, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, NIH DP2 New Innovator Award, DARPA Safe Genes, CDMRP's Tick-Borne Disease Research Program, a Sloan Research Fellowship, the Greenwall Foundation's Making a Difference Award, and the Rainwater Foundation. We are very grateful for both public and private support and pledge to use it wisely

Curriculum Vitae
List of invited lectures