Natalie Jing Ma is a biotechnologist and hapa from a loving Michigander mother and Chinese father. She spent her childhood running wild and free, picking up bugs and hanging out in nature (and maybe eating dirt). After participating in the American Legion Youth Environmental Leadership Program, she pursued Environmental Science and Conservation Biology at UCLA, where she studied how plants and bacteria help each other grow and marine biological diversity in Mo’orea. To pursue biological solutions for the environmental problems she studied, Natalie then pursued a PhD at Yale University in synthetic biology. Working under Dr. Farren Isaacs, she studied the “Jurassic Park” problem of engineered organisms potentially escaping their confines and created biological safety mechanisms to address these problems.
When not studying science, Natalie can be found cooking, baking, photographing nature, or dreaming up the future. She loves public speaking, science communication, and the hopeful future of space travel. Her favorite animals are the jumping spiders of the family Salticidae.
Stoytcho Marinov Stoytchev is a software developer and tall person originally from Sofia, Bulgaria. After moving to the United States, he attended school in New Jersey and then San Diego, CA, then pursued a dual B.S. in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering and M.S. in Computer Science at UCLA to build stuff. He also rowed boats on the UCLA club crew team. After UCLA, he joined Amazon as a software developer for Android platforms, then left Amazon to build productivity apps for fun.
When not programming, Stoytcho can be found building things, repairing things, drawing and woodworking. His favorite food is feta cheese.
StoytchevMa met on move-in day at UCLA. They were friends for 8 years before setting out on the journey of their lives together.