IRG2 - MRSEC Funded Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Researchers

Bruckbauer, Aaron (TLAC Representative)

Aaron is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Burkart Lab in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UC San Diego. He received his B.S. in chemistry at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. His research involves the cultivation of renewable resources with a focus on transforming them into useful biodegradable and bio-renewable polyurethanes that address new opportunities in the field of material science.

Chen, Jeffrey

Jeff is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Burkart lab in the department of Chemistry at UC San Diego. He is studying fatty acid biosynthesis in algae with the goal of engineering the pathway to produce valuable chemicals in a sustainable fashion. In addition, he is also engineering E. coli to produce neopentyl glycol as part of a collaborative effort to produce renewable biodegradable polyurethanes.

Datta, Debika

Debika is a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Professor Jon Pokorski and is serving as MRSEC Trainee Leadership Group Representative (IRG2). Her current research focuses on fabricating biosynthetic materials by integrating genetically engineered cells into polymer composites. The aim is to develop materials that respond to stimuli encoded by genetic manipulation. Prior to joining the lab, she received her Doctoral degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, India. During her PhD research she developed biocompatible gelators from short self-assembling peptides for applications in drug delivery and tissue engineering. In her spare time she enjoys photography, traveling, writing and painting.

Guan, Zhencun

Zhecun is a 4th-year Ph.D. student in NanoEngineering. She is working on the development of hydrogel composite with living material in Bae lab. Her current research focuses on the synthesis of stimuli-responsive hydrogel with cyanobacteria and plant tissue. Zhecun received her B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering at China University of Geosciences in 2020.

Leganes Bayon, Jorge

Jorge Leganés joined the Steinmetz Lab as a postdoc scholar in November 2021. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM, Spain) in 2014, followed by his Master in organic chemistry in 2015. He then carried out his PhD at the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM, Spain) under the supervision of Prof. Ester Vázquez, in the research topic of nanocomposite hydrogels based on carbon and inorganic nanoparticles for applications in smart drug delivery. During his PhD, he carried out his doctoral stay at the lab of Dr. Diez de Campo (University of Saarland, Germany) where he researched with light-responsive click-able hydrogels. Outside work, Jorge enjoys languages, playing the guitar, swimming, and hanging out.

Ma, Yifeng (Yvonne)

Yvonne is a second-year Ph.D. student in NanoEngineering. She is working on the development of living material with plants. Her current research focuses on the synthesis of stimuli-responsive hydrogel with plant viruses and plant tissue. Yvonne received her B.S. in Polymer Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve University in 2019, where she worked on engineering polysaccharide derivatives for hemostasis augmentation.

Palomino, Luis

Luis Palomino is an entering Ph.D. student in the UC San Diego NanoEngineering department, who will join the Pokorski Lab in Fall 2021. He obtained his B.S. in Chemistry from the National University of San Marcos - UNMSM (Lima, Peru) in 2016. For the last five years, he was a research assistant and instructor at the University of Engineering and Technology - UTEC (Lima, Peru). Holding this position, he participated in funded collaborative projects with the University of Connecticut, Harvard University, and Cleveland Clinic developing metallic, polymeric, and carbon nanomaterials for their use in environmental remediation, drug delivery, and energy storage.

Ramji, Robert

Robert is a first year Ph.D. student in the department of Nanoengineering at UC San Diego. Co-advised by Prof. Tod Pascal and Prof. Darren Lipomi, he is working on simulating PEDOT:PSS and improving models and simulation methods for conjugated polymers and polyelectrolytes. Robert is also currently collaborating with the Goddard group at Caltech on developing improved interfaces at the user and application level for molecular simulations. Robert completed an M.S. in Nanoengineering in 2021 and received a double major in Chinese Studies and Nanoengineering in 2020, all at UC San Diego.

Soulier, Nathan

Nathan is a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Susan Golden's lab. His research background is mainly in the fields of microbiology, molecular biology, and structural biology. He completed his Bachelor's of Science at Case Western Reserve University and then his PhD in Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology at Penn State University. At present, his research is focused on the construction and implementation of cyanobacteria in Engineered Living Materials (ELMs), namely cyanobacterial hydrogels. These ELMs have numerous potential applications, including the generation of useful products in industrial settings, and environmental remediation. Nathan’s work addresses fundamental challenges to cyanobacterial ELM technology, such as degradation of ELMs, as well as customization of ELMs to produce useful outputs in various contexts. Both of these research avenues concern engineering of cyanobacteria and engineering of the hydrogel, which is complemented by the materials science experts in IRG2.

Tang, Lisa

Lisa is a Ph.D. student studying Chemical Engineering in the department of NanoEngineering at UC San Diego. She is currently working with responsive soft materials in Professor Jinhye Bae's Lab. Before joining the lab, she received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2021.

IRG2 - MRSEC Affiliate Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Researchers

Calzada, Oscar

Oscar is an undergraduate student at the University of San Diego (class of 2022) who participated in the SSSiN via the UCSD MRSEC RIMSE program. He will be working on nanparticles as PET contrast agents. Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology. His interests include developing methods for loading of porous Si nanoparticles with tissue growth factors.

Caparco, Adam

Adam is a postdoctoral researcher working with Professor Steinmetz on plant- and protein-based living materials and precision agriculture. Ultimately, Adam aims to be a professor with a focus on environmental biotechnology after completion of his postdoctoral research. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering at UCLA, and his Ph.D. in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. For his Ph.D. work, Adam focused on using protein engineering and materials synthesis for applications in enzyme immobilization. Adam also completed a STEM Chateaubriand Fellowship at Genoscope/CEA in France, where he worked with an interdisciplinary team to use metagenomics for enzyme discovery. In his spare time, Adam likes to tackle ambitious cooking projects and volunteer with LGBTQ organizations.

Davis, Elizabathe

Elizabathe is a PhD student in the Pokorski lab in the Department of Nanoengineering at UC San Diego. Her research is focused on engineering model and therapeutic proteins by polymer conjugation towards lower immunogenicity. Prior to moving across the world to join UCSD as a PhD student, Elizabathe has three years of research experience in the field of polymer science towards biological and environmental applications as an undergraduate/graduate research student while pursuing a BS-MS with a major in Chemistry at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata (IISER-K).

Deng, Xinyi

Xinyi is a PhD student in the Department of Nanoengineering. She joined the labin April 2022. She received her B.S. in Polymer Science from Beijing Universityof Chemical Technology. Her past research focused on cancer and she has a particular interest in immunology. Currently she’s working on plant virus-based vaccines and immunotherapy. In her free time, she loves rock music, J-pop,cooking for friends and hiking.

Hild, Erica

Erica is a Nanoengineering PhD student at UC San Diego. Erica completed her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware. Her previous research experience focused on thermoresponsive polymers. She was a UC San Diego's MRSEC REU in 2021, where she worked on utilizing additive manufacturing for synthesizing cyanobacterial gels, under supervision of Professor Jon Pokorski.

Opdensteinen, Patrick

Patrick is a postdoctoral research in the Steinmetz Lab focusing on the application of plant-made nanomaterials for human health and plant health.  Patrick obtained his B. Sc (2014) and M. Sc (2017) in Molecular and Applied Biotechnology in Germany at the RWTH Aachen University. After completing a research internship in the Sinskey Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Patrick returned to Germany to pursue a PhD (summa cum laude, under supervision of Prof. Buyel) at the RWTH Aachen and the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME in the framework of the DFG Research Training Group Tumor-Targeted Drug Delivery. When he is not in the lab Patrick likes traveling, hiking, DIY projects and sports; in particular volleyball, soccer, badminton and biking.