Undergraduate Students


2022

Zabari Bell

Zabari-Obyoni Bell

Zabari is a recent graduate of Navajo Technical University, class of 2022. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology degree and has plans of pursuing a postgraduate degree in Microbiology. She is Diné (Navajo) and African American. Kinyaa'áanii nishłį́ Nahiłii bashishchiin Kinłichii'nii dashicheii Nahiłii dashinalí. This means she is Towering House Clan born for the African Americans. She is from Torreon, NM but grew up predominantly in Houston, TX. She has dreams of exploring research and how traditional Navajo culture can be incorporated into science. In her free time she enjoys spending time with animals, singing, and traveling.

Project Title: Developing a Novel Droplet Sorting Device Using Electrophoresis

Mentors: Robinson Tom, Rohan Thakur

Funding: PREM NTU NSF DMR-2122195 and MRSEC NSF DMR-2011754

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Jonathan Chinana

Jonathan Chinana

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Project Title: Wearable soft robotic gripper

Mentors: Lucas Gerez, Harrison Young

Funding: PREM NTU NSF DMR-2122195 and MRSEC NSF DMR-2011754

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Leonardo Claure

Leonardo Claure

Leonardo Claure is a rising senior at Emory University where he is majoring in Biology. After graduation, he plans to pursue a Ph.D. In his free time he enjoys making pottery, playing basketball, and traveling.

Project Title: Tissue Embedded Flexible Nanoelectronics to Capture Development in Cyborg Brain Organoids

Mentors: Qiang Li

Funding: MRSEC NSF DMR-2011754

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Rothiel Davis

Rothiel Davis

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Project Title: Microfluidics: Droplet Formation

Mentors: Bobby Haney

Funding: MRSEC

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Samantha Francis

Samantha Francis

Project Title: 3D Printed Lattices for Optimized Electrodes Design

Mentors: Dylan Barber

Funding: PREM NTU NSF DMR-2122195 and MRSEC NSF DMR-2011754

Layla James

Layla James

Layla James is a freshman at the Navajo Technical University. She is majoring in biology and plans on pursuing a PhD in Biochemistry or Biomedical science. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, listening to music and reading fiction novels.

Project Title: Integrating nanoplasmonic-based heating with digital droplet PCR

Mentors: Yang Wang, Jean Carlos Serrano Flores

Funding: PREM NTU NSF DMR-2122195 and MRSEC NSF DMR-2011754

Christina Perry

Christina Perry

Christina Perry is a senior at Southern University and A&M College, majoring in Chemistry. After graduation, she plans to pursue MD. Outside of academics, she is passionate about spending time with her family, baking, and community service.

Project Title: Effects of nixtamalization on the physical properties and nutrient content in various corns

Mentors: Kathryn Hollar

Funding: CREST MRSEC NSF HRD-1736136 and MRSEC NSF DMR-2011754

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Justin Platero

Justin Platero

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Project Title: TBD

Mentors:

Funding: PREM NTU NSF DMR-2122195 and MRSEC NSF DMR-2011754

Mohammed Sbai

Mohammed Sbai

Mohammed is a rising senior at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, where he is majoring in Mechanical Engineering with Robotics and Mathematics minors. He is very interested and passionate about Medical Robotics and Unmanned aerial systems. Going on road trips is his favorite thing to do.

Project Title: Fabrication of elastomer cylindrical thin shells for soft robotics

Mentors: Yi Yang

Funding: MRSEC NSF DMR-2011754

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Hunter Shepard

Hunter Shepard

Hunter Shepard is a senior currently attending Southern University and A&M College located in Baton Rouge, LA, majoring in Mathematics & Physics with a concentration in Mathematics. Hunter considers himself an upcoming Scientist but also an educator at heart. In the future, he plans to attend graduate school and teach STEM in both secondary & higher education sectors.

Project Title: Identifying crystal particle structures and modifying with noise to identify fluctuations

Mentors: Will Wang

Funding: CREST MRSEC NSF HRD-1736136 and MRSEC NSF DMR-2011754

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Tionna Tapaha

Tionna Tapaha

Tionna Tapaha is from Farmington, NM and attends Navajo Technical University. She is majoring in Biology and is expected to graduate in Fall 2022. She hopes to continue her education and obtain her Ph.D. and MD and become a dermatologist. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, running, and traveling.

Project Title: Developing a novel droplet sorting device using electrophoresis

Mentors: Robinson Tom, Rohan Thakur

Funding: PREM NTU NSF DMR-2122195 and MRSEC NSF DMR-2011754

Katelyn Wilson

Katelyn Wilson

Katelyn Wilson is Navajo and her clans are the Tangle Clan, Start of the Red Streak People Clan, Towering House Clan and Salt People clan. She is from Becenti, New Mexico and she recently graduated this spring of 2022 with her Bachelors in Science for Biology.

Project Title: Integrating nanoplasmonic-based heating with digital droplet PCR

Mentors: Yang Wang, Jean Carlos Serrano Flores

Funding: PREM NTU NSF DMR-2122195 and MRSEC NSF DMR-2011754

2018

Ashley Alfred

Ashley Alfred

is a senior at Southern University and A&M College studying mathematics and physics. She is a LS-LAMP, Timbuktu, and Honors College scholar. After graduation she plans to obtain her PhD. In her free time she enjoys playing tennis and volleyball, listening to music, reading, and eating sweets.

Project Title: Study of Chalcogenide Thin Film Materials for Applications in Reconfigurable Electronics using Machine Learning Methods

Mentors: Joost Vlassak, Gayatri Perlin

Funding: MRSEC

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Apryl Begay

Apryl Begay

is from Crownpoint, New Mexico. She attends Navajo Technical University where her major is Animal Science. She is expected to graduate in 2020. She wants to become a veterinarian, and gain as much experience and knowledge. She wants to apply what she learned back to the Navajo Nation. Her hobbies are riding horses and her dirt bike.

Project Title: Reversing Pesticide Toxicity Effects by Using a Biomimetic Receptor

Mentors: George Whitesides, Khaled Abdelazim Mohamed

Funding: NTU.MRSEC

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Kyra Capitan

Kyra Capitan

is a rising sophomore at Navajo Technical University, where she is majoring in Biology. She plans to pursue a degree in Veterinary Medicine. In her free time she likes to ride horses.

Project Title: Temperature Responsive Hydrogels

Mentors: David Weitz, Brendan Deveney

Funding: NTU.MRSEC

Jonathan Chinana

Jonathan Chinana

is a first-generation student at Navajo Technical University. He is pursuing a Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering and is in his sophomore year. He loves playing pool while listening to Tool.

Project Title:

Mentors: George Whitesides, Mike Litchfield, Jim MacArthur

Funding: NTU.MRSEC

Michael Di Martino

Michael Di Martino

is a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania pursuing a BA in Molecular and Cellular Biology, with minors in Chemistry and Theater. His interests include medical diagnostic and imaging devices for applications in teaching and research. He was born and raised in Hawaii, and in his free time likes to sing, write bad jokes, and test the limits of his circadian rhythm.

Project Title: Glucose Responsive Microcapsules

Mentors: David Weitz, Joerg Werner

Funding: MRSEC

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Belinda Joseph

Belinda Joseph

is a rising senior at the University of Central Florida, studying Mechanical Engineering. She wants to pursue a PhD in Biomedical Engineering to facilitate medical procedures by design and improving relevant devices and equipment. She enjoys exercising and attending social events.

Project Title: The Viability of Caenorhabditis Elegans and Fish Eggs in Magnetic Levitation

Mentors: George Whitesides, Amit A. Nagarkar

Funding: MRSEC

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Deidre Lee

Deidre Lee

was born and raised in Montserrat. She attends the University of the Virgin Islands in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She is a Physics major and Mathematics minor, expected to graduate in May 2021. After completing her undergraduate studies, she plans to obtain a PhD in Bioengineering with the hopes of developing biomedical devices.

Project Title: Tough and Biologically Stable Hydrogel Adhesives

Mentors: Zhigang Suo, Jason Steck

Funding: MRSEC

Nadja Maldonado Luna

Nadja Maldonado Luna

is a rising senior at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. She is majoring in Mechanical Engineering. After finishing her Bachelors Degree, she is determined to pursue a PhD in Biomedical Engineering. She aims to continue a career in research either in academia or the private sector. In her free time, she enjoys signing and dancing, learning about astronomy, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family.

Project Title: On-Demand Removal Strategies for Tough Adhesive Biomaterials

Mentors: David Mooney

Funding: Wyss.MRSEC

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Michael Nelwood

Michael Nelwood

is a student at Navajo Technical University majoring in Biology.

Nelwood's project is "Electrochemical Detection Using Paper or Thread Diagnostics".

Project Title:

Mentors: George Whitesides

Funding: MRSEC.NTU

Abena Peasah

Abena Peasah

is a rising junior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she is studying Cioengineering. She plans to get a PhD in the biological sciences, and use her knowledge to study diseases that primarily impact historically disadvantaged people. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, reading, and learning new languages.

Peasah's project is "In Vivo Genetic Reprogramming of Mouse Cardiomyocytes".

Project Title: In vivo genetic reprogramming of mouse cardiomyocytes

Mentors: David Mooney, Irene de Lazaro

Funding: MRSEC

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Christina Pizza

Christina Pizza

is a former Navy Corpsman and currently a senior studying Biochemistry at the University of West Florida. She intends to pursue a graduate degree in Organic Chemistry with a focus in Medicinal Chemistry. She's an avid bibliophile and recreational poet. Outside of academics, she enjoys serving her community as a volunteer firefighter and collecting books for donation to the Prison Book Project.

Project Title: Transcriptional Control of Adipose Tissue Remodeling During Hypertrophic Expansion on a Biomimetic Nanofibrous Scaffold

Mentors: Kit Parker, Ben Pope

Funding: MRSEC

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Joshua Platero

Joshua Platero

is a junior at Navajo Technical University. He is studying Biology and it is his dream to eventually attend graduate school. He has been married for 8 years and has 2 kids, both boys.

Platero's project is "Insertion of Proteins into Vesicles". He will use microfluidics to fabricate asymmetrical vesicles with different charge surfaces and mechanical properties. He will insert important proteins into the membrane and see how protein and lipid membrane interact. He will use confocal microscopy to characterize the lipid protein interaction.

Project Title: Insertion of proteins into vesicles

Mentors: David Weitz, Tina Yuting Huang

Funding: MRSEC.NTU

Breanna Thompson

Breanna Thompson

was orn and raised on the Navajo Nation in Crownpoint, NM. Continuing student at Navajo Technical University in the Biology program. Her goals are to continue her career past graduate school ultimately gaining experience, so that she can bring it back to better her community. In her free time she likes to spend time with friends and family, cook, go out, travel, read and relax.

Project Title: Fabricating Biocompatible Polymersomes Using Microfluidics

Mentors: David Weitz, Tina Yuting Huang

Funding: MRSEC.NTU

William Zunker

William Zunker

is a junior at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities studying Civil Engineering with a focus on structures. He plans on continuing his education by pursuing a PhD with the eventual goal of conducting research and teaching as a Professor at a University. Outside of school, his hobbies include calisthenics, climbing, and pottery.

Project Title: Bistable Beam Buckling Robot

Mentors: Katia Bertoldi, Jochen Mueller

Funding: MRSEC

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2017


Alberta Boafo-Arko

Alberta Boafo-Arko

is currently biochemistry, cell and molecular biology major at the University of Maryland — Baltimore County. She loves to travel, relax at the beach and play the piano in her free time.

Project Title: Low-cost Agricultural Diagnostics

Mentors: George Whitesides, Christoffer Abrahamsson

Funding: Harvard MRSEC, NSF DMR-1420570

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Brad Eisenschenk

Brad Eisenschenk

is a current sophomore at the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities where he is majoring in Electrical Engineering. He is interested in the fields of robotics and machine vision, especially how robots and humans interact. Brad is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps (2011-2016) where he was deployed twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve. In his free time, he enjoys working with the student robotics club, lifting weights, and spending time with friends and family.

Project Title: Machine Learning with soft robotic actuators

Mentors: Katia Bertoldi, Nick Vasios

Funding: Harvard MRSEC, NSF DMR-1420570

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Michael Ferris

Michael Ferris

is a full-time student at NOVA (Northern Virginia) Community College. He served five years as an active duty Marine fixing and launching out fighter jets and specializing in avionics and electrical repair. His goal is to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and continue to research throughout his college years. He enjoys rowing, swimming, and surfing.

Project Title: Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Testing of Jet Valves

Mentors: Kevin Kit Parker, Francesco Pasqualini, Luca Cera

Funding: Harvard MRSEC, NSF DMR-1420570

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Jordan Howard-Jennings

Jordan Howard-Jennings

attends Harvey Mudd College studying engineering (his major) and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies (his concentration). He is personally and academically invested in exploring and helping implement STEM in ethical ways that provide marginalized communities with accessible tools to empower them. Outside the classroom, you can find Jordan writing poetry, playing the saxophone, and having nuanced conversations about using STEM as a liberatory tool.

Project Title: On Prototyping a Soft Organic LCD

Mentors: Zhigang Suo, Shuang Zhou, Hubert Lecocque

Funding: Harvard MRSEC, NSF DMR-1420570

Kayla Keepseagle

Kayla Keepseagle

is a senior at Montana State University majoring in Chemical Engineering and intends on obtaining a Ph.D. to pursue a career in research. She is originally from Bismarck, North Dakota and enjoys mountain biking, hiking, and snowboarding in her free time.

Project Title: Flow of Large Deformable Vesicles Through Porous Media

Mentors: Dave Weitz, Shima Parsa Moghaddam, Tina Huang

Funding: Harvard MRSEC, NSF DMR-1420570

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Elise Rizzi

Elise Rizzi

is a rising Junior at Smith College, double majoring in Biochemistry and Engineering with research interests in biomedical engineering, synthetic biology, and bionanotechnology. Outside of the lab, she spends most of her time riding horses competitively, but also enjoys playing the cello and spending time with friends and family.

Project Title: Decoding the Microbiome

Mentors: George Whitesides, Benjamin Davies

Funding: Harvard MRSEC, NSF DMR-1420570