IRG2 - MRSEC Funded Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Researchers

Bruckbauer, Aaron

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 (TLAC Representative)

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.

Ivonne Gonzalez

Gonzalez Gamboa, Ivonne

Ivonne is a postdoctoral researcher at the Steinmetz Lab, working on developing biomaterials for nanoAg applications and precision farming. She has a bachelor degree in Biotechnology Engineering with a minor in Research and Innovation from Tec de Monterrey (México). She later obtained her M.Sc. in Agrobiotechnology and Ph.D. in Plant Biotechnology from UPM (Spain) under the direction of Prof. Fernando Ponz, by developing versatile multi-functionalized plant viral platform. Then, she completed a postdoc appointment at the Álvarez-Trujillo Lab (Tec de Monterrey) generating nanostructured hydrogels using chemically-modified viral nanoparticles as biomaterials for tissue engineering applications. Besides doing research, Ivonne loves teachingsinging, traveling and going to the movies with friends.

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.

Sasi, Lekshmi

Lekshmi is a PhD student at the Department of Nanoengineering at UC San Diego. Her undergraduate degree was in Biomedical Engineering from Anna University, India. After that she did her master's degree in Chemical Engineering from California State University - Long Beach. There she developed microfluidic devices for bioengineering and chemical engineering research applications, for which she was awarded the 'dean's list of scholar's and artist' award from the university. At Jokerst lab, she is working on creating microfluidic devices for imaging nanoparticles and supporting development of biophantoms.

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 first-year 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.

Zhao, Jiayu

Jiayu is a second-year Ph.D. student in NanoEngineering department at UC San Diego She received her B.S. in Polymer Science and Engineering at Beijing University of Chemical Technology in 2017, and her M.S. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve University in 2019. She is currently working on stimuli responsive soft materials for programmed shape morphing in Professor Jinhye Bae's lab.

IRG2 - MRSEC Affiliate Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Researchers

Brown, Madeline

Madeline is an undergraduate Molecular and Cell Biology major at UC San Diego (class of 2023). She has prior research experience investigating predictive biomarkers for gastric and colorectal cancer, has worked as a student assistant in the Nano3 facility, and participated in the 2020 and 2021 Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology. Her interests include developing methods for nanosurgery involving nanoparticles for biomedical applications, with a focus on revascularization of damaged tissues.

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 4th year 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).

Grondek, Joel

Joel joined the Sailor Group in the Summer 2008, as a Ph.D. student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. His thesis project involves synthesizing targeted nanoparticles to diagnose and treat myocardial infarction (in collaboration with co-advisor Karen Christman in the Department of Bioengineering) and diseases of the retina (in collaboration with Dr. William R. Freeman in the Jacobs Retina Center). The nanoparticles are designed to utilize a targeting peptide to accumulate in the region of damaged tissue for diagnostic T1 or T2 enhanced MR imaging, for fluorescence imaging, and/or for drug delivery.

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.

Lee, Ella

Ji Yoon "Ella" Lee is an undergraduate student (class of 2022) at UC San Diego majoring in Biochemistry/Chemistry who participated in the 2020 Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology. She is interested in medical applications of nanomaterials.

Lee, Rachel

Rachel Lee is an undergraduate (class of 2023) Biochemistry/Chemistry student at UC San Diego. She participated in the 2021 Spring Break Undergraduate Research Experience (a "mini RIMSE" program of the UC San Diego MRSEC), and in the 2021 Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology (SSSiN), one of the UC San Diego MRSEC RIMSE research immersion programs. She is interested in exploring the uses of silicon nanotechnology as antibacterial therapeutics-delivery platforms.

Zhang, Helen

Helen began her PhD studies in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) at UCSD in Summer 2021, as a participant in the UC San Diego MRSEC RIMSE program. She obtained her B.S. in Biochemistry from California State University Long Beach in 2016, and she then worked as a topical formulations chemist, where she optimized drug delivery systems with various active ingredients. She was a participant in the 2021 Summer School for Silicon Nanotechnology (SSSiN), one of the UC San Diego MRSEC RIMSE research immersion programs. She is interested in silicon nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems, particularly their application in treatment of inflammatory conditions in cancer, infectious diseases, and injured tissues.