Stanford Scholar Spotlight: Daniel Stauber engineers bioengineering opportunities

March 15, 2024, 12:47 a.m.

This article is the part of a series of student spotlights featuring students from a variety of academic departments at Stanford and the highlights and challenges of their academic journey.

When Daniel Stauber ’25 M.S. ’25 first came to Stanford, he knew that he wanted to do research using the CRISPR gene editing technology, but he was not sure how. Three years later, he has done research with the Markus Covert Lab and the Stanley Qi lab, carrying out hands-on work with biomodeling and variations of the CRISPR-Cas9 system, a gene editing technology. He’s also the president of Stanford Students in Biodesign and Biopharma, a club that facilitates student-led biotechnology projects.

Stauber sat down with The Daily to talk about his experience and his tips for younger students looking to get more involved with their respective departments and find opportunities on campus.


Name: Daniel Aaron Stauber

Class: 2025, M.S. 2025

Major: Bioengineering

Clubs: Stanford Students in Biodesign and Biopharma

Research experience: Bioengineering Research Experience for Undergraduates (BIOE REU), Covert Lab, Qi Lab

Fun fact: He loves playing golf and used to compete in golf tournaments before Stanford.

This article has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

The Stanford Daily [TSD]: What drew you to bioengineering?

Daniel Stauber [DS]: It was my own background that drew me to bioengineering, especially health issues and family. My older brothers, who are twins, were both born with a genetic disease. Because of that, I grew up seeing them go through many difficulties. They were super smart and nice once you got to know them, but the issue was that people didn’t really get to know them. I had seen them struggle so much with that, and that led me to want to look into how genetic diseases come about and how to cure them. 

Eventually, [when I was 12], I stumbled into CRISPR, which I’m doing research in now, and fell in love with the idea. I got to Stanford and immediately found the one lab at Stanford at the forefront of CRISPR technology, the Qi lab at ChEM-H. I emailed Stanley [Qi] and asked to join the lab. Eventually, Stanley emailed me back and I did the BIOE REU   through him, and that’s how I began in his lab starting in the spring quarter of freshman year.  

Video: JANELLE OLISEA/The Stanford Daily

TSD: What are some of your most memorable experiences in the bioengineering department? 

DS: The professors are very willing to give you a chance to do research in their lab. Also, the Bioengineering REU is an amazing opportunity. I had done very little research before coming to Stanford and had very few wet lab skills. The REU [made me] a lot more advanced in CRISPR and wet lab, which allowed me to use a lot more of the resources in the bioengineering department. 

I’m also a part of the ChEM-H UEP, which is the undergraduate entrepreneurship program. It’s a really cool opportunity to work with a team to get seed funding for a novel therapeutic idea. 

TSD: Are you currently working on a startup?

DS: We’re currently in the very early stages of developing a startup, and we are going to compete for funding for that startup against other teams. It’s a form of CRISPR for gene regulation. 

Video: JANELLE OLISEA/The Stanford Daily

TSD: What are some ways that people could get more involved in the bioengineering department?

DS: There’s a ton of resources on the bioengineering department website. I would also say look at the web pages of adjacent fields, like biology. Aside from the websites, I would say you should just reach out to people and get close to someone who is already in that department, whether it be a junior, co-term student or even a faculty member. They’ll have a lot of knowledge about what things you should be going after and what things you should be looking out for. 

Video: JANELLE OLISEA/The Stanford Daily

TSD: Do you have any advice you would give to freshmen or people looking to get more involved in the opportunities available in the bioengineering department?

DS: Start looking early, and reach out to people. As much as you can find things online, there’s a lot of things that people who have already been through the process will know that you just won’t. Even though the bioengineering website is a great resource, it’s not everything. They do have peer advisors on there that you can always reach out to.

If you know that you want to get early research experience as a freshman because you’ve never done research before, apply for the REU. And the REU has an early deadline, so make sure you check it. There’s also Bio-X, and a bunch of other programs out there. 

I assume that most bioengineering people want to do research, but if you want to go more into creating a startup, I am the president of the Stanford Students in Biodesign and Biopharma. It’s the biggest biotech club at Stanford, and I may be a little biased, but I think it is the best place to get to know a community of people who are into biotech. 

There are also project teams in that club, and the lower classmen can get to know upperclassmen and get mentorship and guidance, as well as actual hands-on experience, whether it be getting to be part of biodesign classes, which is an integral part of the bioengineering curriculum, or just an introduction into what biotech is like. 

Video: JANELLE OLISEA/The Stanford Daily

TSD: Looking back at your earlier self who was really interested in the CRISPR technology and what you could do with it, where do you think you are in that journey and what are your next goals for the future?

DS: I think I’ve gone a long way from there. Starting from middle school, it was just a dream. I knew I wanted to go into it, but had no clue what it was about. Once I came to Stanford, getting into that research was so much more — you get to learn so much faster and so much more about the actual field. 

There’s so many new tools you could make with CRISPR, and that’s something I’ve done. I’ve worked with CRISPR-Cas13, which edits RNA instead of DNA. The end results are similar, but it’s not permanent…which could be really beneficial. I would say I know a ton more about the CRISPR field and about all the potential things you could do with it. 

For the undergraduate entrepreneurship program, I am actually trying to use CRISPR to cure eye cancer, which is completely different from what I wanted to do initially when I came [to Stanford]. There’s so much you learn both in your lab, and so much you can apply later on because of how much you learn. 

Video: JANELLE OLISEA/The Stanford Daily

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