Meet the Team

Edward Sobek, PhD MBA

Dr. Sobek specializes in microbial and chemical issues affecting the built-environment. He and his team at Assured Bio Labs have tackled everything from viral outbreaks in medical facilities, moldy manufactured plastics, Legionella investigations to formaldehyde off-gassing in building materials. They have diagnosed mold and bacteria issues in hundreds of homes, commercial properties and complex manufacturing settings. He has worked on odor and chemical contamination in both residential and commercial properties.  Dr. Sobek’s ability to identify the root cause of contamination truly sets him apart as an outstanding problem solver.

He has examined years of historical microbiological data and the results indicate a major flaw with current detection technologies that completely miss or underestimate the true concentrations of microbes in the built environment. Hence, his insight of microbial DNA analysis and microbial ecology is vital for a successful project outcome. That and his relentless pursuit of scientific solutions are the distinguishing factors sought by the companies that engage his services.

Dr. Sobek is a PhD microbiologist with over 20 years of laboratory and field experience. His vision is to develop industry standards with DNA based diagnostics to replace antiquated technologies that often stymie the microbial investigation process. In order to achieve those aims, he has become an avid entrepreneur and inventor. He invented the novel microbial detection technology called Molecular Entrapment, which he branded into the M-TRAP® air cassette that is a CDC/NIOSH verified technology to capture airborne influenza virus and airborne Legionella pneumophila.

Capabilities and Focus

Industrial Microbiology Manufacturing: Micro-Sensitive Cosmetics, Pharmaceuticals, Food, Natural and Manufactured Wood Products, Pallets, Gypsum Board, Textiles, Leather & Plastics, Aseptic Processing, Gnotobiotics.

Built-Environment Microbiology:  Residential & Commercial Buildings, Legionella in water systems and cooling towers, Micro-sensitive Product Storage, Warehouse Facilities, & Microbial-Induced Environmental Blackening.

Expert Witness:  An experienced Testifying and Non-Testifying Expert across specialty areas.

LinkedIn Profile:

Select Clients

Hinchcliff Products Co.

Reynolds Consumer Products


Bluegrass Dairy and Food Inc



University Hospitals


Body Blue

Flake Board


Columbia University

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

United States Air Force





Dylan Graves, CMI

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Dylan Graves is the Operations Manager and Lead Investigator at Assured Bio. He successfully completed the Certified Mold Inspector program through American Council for Accredited Certification (ACAC) in May, 2016 and from a University of Tennessee program in 2012. His education coupled with over 8 years of experience as a microscopist are utilized in his experience with commercial, industrial, and residential property inspections. Dylan is currently pursuing an Associate Degree and plans to complete a B.S. in microbiology. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys backpacking, hunting, fishing, and disc golfing.

Joshua Birkebak, PHD

Joshua Birkebak is the Laboratory Manager and Lead Analyst at Assured Bio. He earned a B.S. in Plant Science from the University of Washington in 2009 at the age of 19 and his Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee in August of 2015. Joshua has over 12 years’ experience in mycology, including taxonomy/systematics, genetics, microscopy, culture technique, and herbarium work. He has conducted fieldwork in Costa Rica, Thailand, and throughout North America. He is a member of the North American Mycological Association, and is passionate about educational and citizen outreach opportunities. In his spare time, Joshua enjoys hunting mushrooms.

Marcus Reed

Marcus Reed is a Laboratory Analyst at Assured Bio. His primary job duties include DNA analyses and Legionella analysis. He is from Rockwood, Tennessee. He attended Roane State Community college where he earned an Associate of Science in Biology. After transferring to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Marcus earned a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology. Outside work, he is an avid Tennessee Volunteer football and basketball fan. Marcus also enjoys playing guitar, golfing, video games, and cinema.

Shawn McClurg

Shawn McClurg is a Laboratory Analyst at Assured Bio. He earned a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Tennessee. He worked for two years at a medical laboratory ensuring safety of plasma used for pharmaceuticals. His job duties include molecular biological and microbiological tasks. His hobbies include fish keeping, reading, and film.

Gregory McPeak

Greg McPeak is one of the newest members of the Assured Bio family, currently training as a lab technician. Greg originally trained to become a theatrical actor/director with a BA in Theatre and Psychology from East Tennessee State University. However, when children came he turned to the technical side of the stage and began working as a lighting director for the cable networks TNN and CMT. There Greg worked on such shows as HeeHaw and The Grand Ole Opry, and even spent 2 years on the crew of the Professional Bull Riding (PBR) circuit. During his second incarnation, Greg earned his MA in education from Lincoln Memorial University and began teaching in the public school system where he spent 12 or so years in the 6th grade. Taking a break from teaching Greg opened an antique shop which he said, “was an amazing place for people to come and reminisce and not buy anything”. Greg has always had a love for science, growing up in a family heavily into Boy Scouting and the study of the flora and fauna of East Tennessee. One of his prized possessions as a child was a book of mushroom spore prints and pressed ferns. It is really great to be returning to the study of the natural world, but I’ve got a lot of catching up to do said McPeak. Greg has an infinitely patient wife and two terrific children. When he has spare time he enjoys a disc golf addiction, and playing drums loudly.

Brittany Sheldon

Brittany is the bookkeeper at Assured Bio Labs and handles accounts receivable, accounts payable, and payroll. She earned her Bachelors of Business Administration from King University. She has over 8 years of experience in bookkeeping/administrative area. Brittany has volunteered with Big Brother Big Sister in Knoxville. She loves cheering on UT Football on Saturdays.  In her spare time she enjoys traveling and going on cruises with her husband, snowboarding, outdoor activities with family and friends, and loves being a dog mom to her to pit bulls Riley and Leo.


Annie Furches

Annie Furches serves as Scientific Adviser and Lead Scientific Consultant to Assured Bio. She earned a B.S. in Plant Biology and an M.S. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Tennessee. Previously, she served as Interim Lab Manager, Lead Scientist, and Quality Assurance Officer at Assured Bio. She is currently pursuing an Advanced Short Term Research Opportunity (ASTRO) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in genetic and metabolic engineering. In her spare time, she enjoys conducting botanical fieldwork and collaborating on genetic research projects at Lincoln Memorial University with her husband, Dr. M. Steven Furches.

Brandon Hall

Brandon Hall is a scientific consultant for Assured Bio. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, and a minor in Philosophy. After graduating, he worked in pharmaceutical research identifying drug stability in topical applications, tracking absorption rates of various molecule sizes across skin membranes, and worked on developing a method for DNA extraction from human saliva. He is currently attending Boston University working towards his Masters in Public Health with a focus of Bio Statistics. In his free time, he enjoys trying new hobbies, disc golf, the science and art of fermentation, snowboarding, kayaking, hiking and backpacking, and high adrenaline activities.

Olga Khaliukova

Olga Khaliukova is a consultant at the Assured Bio Labs. She earned a B.S. in Management from the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine, Kyiv in 2011 and her M.S. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2013. She is a member of American Industrial Hygiene Association and American Statistical Association. Olga has a great interest in process improvement and optimization and is currently working on her Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. She volunteers at YWAC where she is a member of a team that manages Dogs Playing for Life program.

Timothy M. Young, PHD

Timothy M. Young is a Professor (Full) in the Center for Renewable Carbon at the University of Tennessee (UT). He has Ph.D. in Statistics and M.S. in Statistics (minor – Operations Research) from the University of Tennessee. He also holds M.S. and B.S. degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He has taught highly successful industry courses in
‘Advanced Analytics and Data Mining,’ ‘Process Analytics, Statistical Process Control | Lean Methods,’ and ‘Design of Experiments’ to more than 1,000 industry personnel since 2000.