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Laura Boykin Okalebo, Ph.D.

Senior Scientific Consultant

Contact Information



Laura is a Senior Scientific Consultant at BioTeam and has 22 years of experience with genomics and HPC research and solutions for real world problems. She is also a Senior TED Fellow and is passionate about global equity in science and technology.

Focus Areas:

  • Bioinformatics
  • HPC for Biologists
  • Organizational Assessments
  • Education and Training
  • Communication


  • Phylogenetics software both locally and on HPC (MrBayes, PAUP*)
  • Nanopore sequencing analyses pipelines
  • Portable DNA extraction (PDQex, Biomeme, Claremont Biosystems)

Scientific Areas:

  • Computational Biology
  • Next Generation Sequencing with a specialty in Nanopore Sequencing
  • Off-grid solutions for analyzing genomic data
  • Team building
  • Equity designer


Biologist Laura Boykin uses genomics and supercomputing to help smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa control whiteflies and viruses, which have devastated cassava crops. Cassava is a staple food for more than 800 million people globally. Along with scientists in East Africa, she founded the Cassava Virus Action Project to roll out portable DNA sequencing and analysis to farmers. The team also trained local communities in the use of these technologies to tackle future outbreaks. A TED Senior Fellow, Boykin was awarded the Gifted Citizen Prize at the Ciudad de las Ideas Festival in 2017. The prize is given to the best social entrepreneurship project that is having a large-scale impact on humanity’s most pressing issues. She is one of 2019’s Wired 25—innovators who are racing to save us from ourselves.

• TED Fellow
• TED Senior Fellow
• WIRED magazine’s ’25 People Who Are Racing to Save Us’
• Gifted Citizen Prize Winner
• Honorary Doctorate- The Open University
• TED Talk featured on
• Featured as one of Fast Company’s world changing ideas 2019
• Spoke at the UN for the signing of the sustainable development goals

Personal Interests:

I love spending time in east Africa—one of my best memories was when I met the Kenyan band Sauti Sol— I took a selfie with them and I have it framed. I also love to watch sports including soccer, basketball, rugby and Australian rules football.


Washington, DC