UMass Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Institute for Cellular Engineering

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ICE IGERT Student Profiles

Current Students

Amy Biddle
ICE IGERT Associate, Jeffrey Blanchard Lab
Microbial species interactions facilitating anaerobic plant degradation in adapted soil communities
Amy earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of New Hampshire, and taught high school biology and chemistry for many years. As a  PhD candidate in Microbiology, she studies microbial ecology in the lab of Dr. Jeffrey Blanchard, and is currently developing adapted communities as model systems for studying plant degradation in natural environments.

Research Highlight
Aaron Chen
ICE IGERT Associate, Maria Santore Lab
Engineering Surfaces to Create and Utilize Dynamic and Specific Particle-Surface Interactions
Aaron graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University. As a Chemical Engineering graduate student, Aaron's research focuses on developing interactions between cells and surfaces and utilizing them to create new ways to sort cells and/or trigger targeted responses in cells. In his spare time, he tries to be a photographer.
Research Highlight

Nat Clark

Former ICE IGERT Trainee, Scott Garman Lab
Structural Biology of Lysosomal Enzymes
Nat is a graduate student in the Molecular and Cellular Biology program at UMass Amherst.  His work focuses on understanding human lysosomal storage disorders using structural biology, biochemistry, and cell biology.
Research Highlight
Leslie Conway
ICE IGERT Trainee, Jennifer Ross Lab
Obstacles Along Microtubules Alter Biophysical Properties of Motor Proteins
Leslie graduated with a B.S. in Biology from the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 2008. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D in the Molecular and Cellular Biology program. Her research in the lab of Dr. Jennifer Ross uses single molecule techniques to understand how motor proteins react to obstacles along microtubules.
Research Highlight
Kristina Moody Giorda
Former ICE IGERT Trainee, Dan Hebert Lab
Nonenveloped Viral Entry and Release
Kristina graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry from California Polytechnic State University (2006), where she studied a malaria kinase believed to regulate the cell cycle called PfPK6.  As an intern at Applied Biosystems, she developed quantitative techniques to study DNA methylation, which is involved in gene expression.  Her current research is focused on understanding viral infection and release using a combination of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology.
Research Highlight
Daniella Gonzalez
ICE IGERT Trainee, Thayumanavan Lab
Polymer-Protein Interactions for Delivery and Sensing
Daniella received her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico- Mayaguez. She is currently a member of the Thayumananvan Lab, pursuing a PhD in Chemistry. Daniella joined UMass as a NEAGEP fellow in 2007 and became an ICE IGERT fellow in 2010.  Her research focuses on developing polymeric materials for biomedical applications such as protein sensing and drug or protein delivery. 
Research Highlight
David Griffin
ICE IGERT Associate, Surita Bhatia Lab
Synthesis and Characterization of Novel Biocomposites
David graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Kansas in 2005.  He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts working in the laboratory of Dr. Surita Bhatia.  His current research focuses on the synthesis and characterization of novel composite materials with applications in tissue engineering and drug delivery. 
Research Highlight
Timothy Hanly
ICE IGERT Trainee, Michael Henson Lab
Modeling a Defined Mixed Culture for the Efficient Consumption of Glucose/Xylose Mixtures
Tim earned a B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 2008. Tim participated in the 2007 ICE REU program at Umass Amherst, and is now a PhD candidate in the department of Chemical Engineering.  His research focuses on the computational and experimental optimization of mixed culture fermentations in the Henson lab.
Research Highlight


James Hayes
Former ICE IGERT Trainee, Jeffrey Blanchard Lab
Glycoside Hydrolase and Sugar Transporter Regulation on Complex Substrates
James graduated with a BS in Chemistry from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2006.  After graduation, he developed and tested products for the Security and Military Unit of Evident Technologies, a nanotech company specializing in Quantum Dots.  As a Ph.D. candidate in the Molecular and Cellular Biology program, he studies gene regulation in Clostridium phytofermentans, a candidate bacteria for biofuels production from plant biomass.
Research Highlight
William Herrick
ICE IGERT Trainee, Lianhong Sun Lab
Directed Evolution of the Quorum-Sensing Component LuxI
In 2008, William completed his BS in Chemical Engineering with a concentration in Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering at the Johns Hopkins University. His PhD research in the Sun Lab in the Chemical Engineering department focuses on the engineering and applications of bacterial quorum-sensing to synthetic biology and industrial recombinant protein production.
Research Highlight
Paejonette Jacobs
Former ICE IGERT Trainee, Janice Telfer Lab
Expansion of Adult Hematopoietic Stem Cells
Paejonette earned her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Mount Holyoke College, MA. Currently, she is pursuing a graduate degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. She works in the lab of Dr. Janice Telfer where her research involves understanding how stem cells in the bone marrow maintain the ability to self-renew and differentiate into immune and blood cells.
Research Highlight
Supratim Mukherjee
ICE IGERT Associate, Jeffrey Blanchard Lab
Adaptive evolution on complex polysaccharides using Clostridium phytofermentans
Supratim is a graduate student in the Department of Microbiology. He received his B.S and M.S in Biotechnology from Bangalore University, India. His current research interests include microbial ecology and evolution; flux-balance based metabolic modeling; microarrays. In his spare time he enjoys table tennis, swimming, biking and listening to music.
Research Highlight
Sam
Samantha Nicholls (Bernard)
Former ICE IGERT Trainee, Jeanne Hardy Lab
A Biological Approach to Alternative Energy
Samantha graduated with a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Vermont and is currently pursuing a PhD in Chemistry at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Jeanne Hardy’s research group.  Her primary research interests are focused on reengineering proteins for use in alternative energy sources.   After receiving her PhD Samantha hopes to work in industry. In her free time she enjoys snowboarding, softball, playing the violin, and spending time with family and friends.
Janel Pariseau
ICE IGERT Associate, Patricia Wadsworth Lab
Spindle Organization in Mammalian Cells
Janel earned her B.S. degree in Microbiology from UMass Amherst.  After working as a Sterilization Microbiologist at Johnson & Johnson company Codman & Shurtleff, and as a Quality Control Chemist at pharmaceutical company Alkermes, Janel returned to UMass Amherst to pursue a doctorate degree. As a member of the Molecular and Cellular Biology program, she studies spindle assembly in mammalian cells.  When she is not doing research Janel has a passion for culinary arts.
Research Highlight
Rohan Patil
ICE IGERT Associate, Susan Roberts Lab
Regulation of Paclitaxel Synthesis in Plant Cell Cultures
Rohan completed his B.S. in Chemical engineering at University Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, India. He  joined Roberts Lab in 2008. The aim of Rohan's research is to better understand the metabolic and phenotypic  heterogeneity in plant cell cultures. The primary focus is on elucidating the relationship between cell populations  and paclitaxel accumulation in culture. He is presently working on the application of molecular approaches to  characterize and manipulate Taxus metabolism in distinct cell subpopulations.
Research Highlight
Adaris Rodriguez Cortes
Former ICE IGERT Trainee, Sallie Smith-Schneider Lab
Molecular Mechanisms of Breast Cancer
Adaris earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of Puerto Rico – Río Piedras, PR. She works in Dr. Sallie Smith-Schneider’s laboratory at the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute investigating the mechanisms underlying breast cancer and designing novel treatments. Adaris is an active member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Latinos and Native Americans in Science. She enjoys music, dancing, swimming and spending time with family and friends.
Research Highlight
Erika Saffer
ICE IGERT Trainee, Surita Bhatia Lab
Biomimetic copolymers and surfactants
In 2009, Erika earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst as a member of the Bhatia research group. Her research focuses on the characterization of biomemetic copolymers and surfactants. This project is in collaboration with the Gross research group at the Polytechnic Institute of NYU.
Research Highlight
Adam St. Jean
Former ICE IGERT Trainee, Neil Forbes Lab
Honing Bacterial Therapies for Treating Cancer
In 2004, Adam received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University.  While at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Adam contributed to many exciting projects that sparked his interest in research.  As a PhD candidate in the Chemical Engineering department, Adam engineers bacteria to target tumors and deliver therapeutic agents in a controllable fashion.  Beyond his research, Adam enjoys reading, cooking and spending time hiking trails with his dog, Murphy.
Research Highlight
Whitney Stoppel
ICE IGERT Trainee, Susan Roberts Lab
Islet Encapsulation: Novel Formulation Extends Islet Viability
Whitney received her undergraduate degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2008.  As a PhD candidate in the Chemical Engineering department, Whitney’s research focuses on fundamental issues related to encapsulation technologies for the treatment of Type I Diabetes Mellitus.  This project is in collaboration with Alan Schneyer’s group at Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute in Springfield, Massachusetts. 
Research Highlight
Joe White
Former ICE IGERT Trainee, Surita Bhatia Lab
Wound Dressings: Novel Formulations to Cut Healing Times
In 2007, Joe received a Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering from Youngstown State University.  As a Ph.D. candidate in the Chemical Engineering department, Joe’s research focuses on the development and characterization of alginate-based wound dressings, focusing on the material and functional characteristics of the dressings.  This research is in collaboration with Dr. Patrick Lee, Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, MA.
Research Highlight
Sarah Wilson
ICE IGERT Trainee, Susan Roberts Lab
Metabolic engineering of key paclitaxel regulatory genes in Taxus spp. suspension cultures
Sarah earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rowan University in 2009.  She is currently pursuing her PhD in Chemical Engineering in the Roberts’ lab working with Taxus spp. suspension cell cultures that produce the anti-cancer agent paclitaxel.  Her project is investigating the effect of the upregulation of pathway genes on paclitaxel production in culture through Agrobacterium-mediated transformation.
Research Highlight
Miaomin Zhang
ICE IGERT Associate, Neil Forbes Lab
Targeting drug-resistant tumor regions using engineered bacteria

Miaomin graduated with a bachelor of bioengineering from Nanjing University of Technology. His present project involves engineering bacterium Salmonella typhimurium to target drug-resistant regions inside solid tumors. The techniques he plans to use include genetic manipulations, animal experiments, and fluorescent imaging.  Miaomin strives to develop an effective cancer killer by demonstrating Salmonella's transport power and tumor targeting efficacy.
Research Highlight

Alumni

Robert Augustine
Former ICE IGERT Trainee, Magdalena Bezanilla Lab
Actin-Binding Proteins in Polarized Plant Cell Growth
Robert Augustine received his B.S. in Biochemistry from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2005.  During his undergraduate degree, he researched the role of plant proteases in abiotic stress.  Presently, he is a graduate student in the Plant Biology Program at UMass Amherst investigating the molecular mechanisms that regulate polarized plant cell growth.
Research Highlight
Marty Kolewe
Former ICE IGERT Trainee, Susan Roberts/Michael Henson Labs
Optimizing Productivity in Plant Cell Cultures through Multiscale Process Characterization and Control of Cell Aggregation
After earning a BS in Chemical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, Marty spent 3 years working as a process control engineer for Amgen in the start up of their BioNext manufacturing facility. Currently, Marty is working on multiscale process characterization and modeling of plant cell culture systems for the production of the anti-cancer agent paclitaxel, and is co-advised by Professors Michael Henson and Susan Roberts.
Research Highlight

Daniel Sayut

Former ICE IGERT Associate, Lianhong Sun Lab
Construction and Evolution of Synthetic Cellular Systems
In 2004, Daniel received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Syracuse University.   As a PhD candidate in the Chemical Engineering department, Daniel's research focuses on the creation and optimization of biological circuits, focusing on applications of bacterial quorum sensing.
Research Highlight
Bhushan Toley
ICE IGERT Associate, Neil Forbes Lab
Quantifying the Effects of Precise Oxygen Delivery to Hypoxic In-vitro Tumor Tissue; Developing Tumor Mimicking Microfluidic Bioreactors to Study Therapeutic Bacteria
Bhushan received his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from the University Institute of Chemical Technology (renamed ICT), Mumbai, India. Developing novel in-vitro micron-scale tumor tissue models has been his expertise. He is currently working on developing a high-throughput drug (therapeutic bacteria) screening device for three-dimensional tumor tissue.
Research Highlight
Christina Vasalou
Former ICE IGERT Trainee, Michael Henson Lab
Multiscale Modeling and Analysis of Circadian Rhythm Generation and Synchronization

Christina graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. After graduating she spent a year as a research assistant in RWTH, Aachen.  Christina is currently pursuing a PhD in Chemical Engineering in Michael Henson’s research group, with a focus on multiscale modeling and analysis of circadian rhythm generation and synchronization in mammalian cells.
Research Highlight
Samantha Zelin
Former ICE IGERT Associate, James Holden Lab
Using Hyperthermophilic Archaea to Distill Higher Carbon Alcohols
Samantha graduated with a B.S. in Microbiology from North Carolina State University in 2008, where she studied glycosidases from thermophilic bacteria.  Her current research as a graduate student in the microbiology department focuses on the peptide fermentation and alcohol production pathways in hyperthermophilic archaea.  In her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
Research Highlight

University of Massachusetts
Institute for Cellular Engineering
686 North Pleasant Street
159 Goessmann Laboratory
Amherst, MA 01003