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applications accepted until all positions are filled - review mid-April and mid-May


Approved MARC-U*STAR and RISE Mentors


Biology  |  Biomedical Engineering  |  Chemistry  |  Computer Science  |  Physics  |  Psychology

Note: Mathematics and Statistics will work with faculty from other departments



Biomedical Engineering


Computer Science




Biology Mentors

Dr. Bernard Arulanandam
Bernard Arulanandam, Ph.D.

The Mucosal Immunity Research Group focuses on understanding host-microbe interactions and identifying approaches to induce optimal mucosal protection and immunity.

Dr. Edwin Barea-Rodriguez
Edwin Barea-Rodriguez, Ph.D.

The central hypothesis of my aging research program proposes that aged related impairments in cognition and synaptic plasticity share similar underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms. According to our model, oxidative stress causes impairment in neuronal excitability and maintenance of long-term potentiation (LTP), a form of synaptic plasticity believed to mediate learning and memory processes. The impairment in these physiological processes ultimately impairs spatial learning and memory in aged animals.

Dr. Astrid Cardona
Astrid Cardona, Ph.D.

Our studies use experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) as a model to investigate pathological events related to Multiple Sclerosis. The primary focus is to determine the contribution of the fractalkine receptor (CX3CR1) to disease severity. Fractalkine (CX3CL1) and its receptor CX3CR1 provide a physiologically-relevant neuron-microglia communication mechanism.

Dr. Mark Eppinger
Mark Eppinger, Ph.D.

The focus of my research is on the application of microbial genomics to address fundamental questions in emerging infectious diseases. My current interests are directed towards large-scale sequencing and phylogenomic studies investigating major public health threats, such as the causative agents of plague and cholera, Yersinia pestis and Vibrio cholerae, and the dominant cause of food-borne disease in North America, Escherichia coli O157:H7. Experimental approaches include Microbial Genome Sequencing, Phylogenomics, and Pathogenicity

Dr. Thomas Forsthuber
Thomas Forsthuber, M.D., Ph.D.

Cellular immunology, T cell immunity, autoimmune diseases: The immune system plays a fundamental role in the defense against microbial pathogens. However, erroneous activation of the immune system can lead to autoimmune diseases. This laboratory pursues several lines of investigation to understand how T cells contribute to autoimmune diseases and protection from infection, and how to modulate T cell immunity for therapeutic purposes in humans.

Dr. Brian Hermann
Brian Hermann, Ph.D.

Student projects in my lab will revolve around cell-fate decisions in Spermatogonial Stem Cells (SSC). SSCs are adult-tissue stem cells in the mammalian testis that balance self renewing and differentiating fate decisions to give rise to and sustain the entire spermatogenic lineage. The molecular mechanisms that control these fate decisions in SSCs are largely unknown transcriptional programs critical for SSC function. We are testing the hypothesis that specific transcription factors form regulatory networks to execute gene expression programs important for SSC fate decisions (self-renewal and differentiation), and ultimately, spermatogenesis. My laboratory also studies fertility preservation in male cancer patients.

Dr. David Jaffe
David Jaffe, Ph.D.

Research focuses on synaptic integration and neuronal excitability in young, adult, and aged neurons of the hippocampal formation—a region of the brain important for certain aspects of learning and memory and one of the first areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer's disease. Using a combination of single-channel patch-clamp recording methods, whole-cell recording techniques, fluorescence calcium imaging, and computer modeling we are studying how voltage-gated channels are distributed within the dendritic tree and how this interacts with synaptic inputs to drive a neuron to fire. Other interests of the lab include how intracellular calcium dynamics in neurons, and its effects on membrane excitability, are affected in the aging brain and how these changes affect the computations made by neurons in aging animals.

Dr. Karl Klose
Karl Klose, Ph.D.

Research is focused on studying the molecular mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes cholera, and Francisella tularensis, the bacterium that causes tularemia. Another area of interest is the study of pathogenic mechanisms of Francisella tularensis, a potential bioweapon, with particular interest in determining how this bacterium evades killing within host macrophages. The ultimate goal is the development of novel vaccines and therapeutics against this disease.

Dr. Soo Chan Lee
Soo Chan Lee, Ph.D.

My laboratory studies a broad range of fungi that pose serious threats to public health. In particular, one of the goals of my research is to elucidate the interactions between hosts and human pathogenic fungi in mucormycosis, which will subsequently contribute to the development of therapeutic options.

Dr. Annie Lin
Annie Lin, Ph.D.

Dr. Lin’s research is focused on the stem cell and cancer biology, which have potential implications for translational significance for treatment and prevention of diseases.

Dr. Jose Lopez-Ribot
Jose Lopez-Ribot, Pharm.D., Ph.D.

Research focuses on opportunistic pathogenic fungus Candida albicans. C. albicans is part of the normal human microbiota. However, as an opportunistic pathogen it is capable of causing overt disease (candidiasis), but usually only in hosts with defective immunity. The frequency of candidiasis has increased dramatically in the last decades as a result of an expanding population of immunocompromised patients. As a result, candidiasis is now the fourth most common nosocomial infections. Even with treatment using available antifungal agents, mortality rates lie in the 30- 40% range for these infected patients. As an opportunistic pathogen, it is clear that mechanisms of host immunity and pathogen virulence intertwine, giving rise to the highly complex nature of host-fungus interactions. However, most investigations into these topics are overwhelmingly "one-sided" which has resulted in a dangerous dichotomy between "microorganism-centered" and "host-centered" views of candidal pathogenesis.

Dr. Martha Lundell
Martha Lundell, Ph.D.

Current research is focused on elucidating a mechanism of differentiation for one particular neuronal cell type, the serotonergic neurons in the ventral nerve cord of Drosophila. The sophisticated molecular and genetic techniques available in Drosophila allow one to ask specific questions on cellular differentiation that cannot be asked in any other model system. A number of genes and cell signaling pathways have been characterized that are important to the development of the serotonergic lineage and are now examining how these molecules interact to specify serotonin cell fate. Another area of research in the laboratory is the relationship of genomic instability and aging. Investigation includes the genomic instability using a transgenic Drosophila lacZ-reporter system.

Dr. John McCarrey
John McCarrey, Ph.D.

Research in my laboratory is centered on the development, differentiation, and manipulation of mammalian germ cells - the cells that form the gametes (sperm in males and eggs in females). Our primary experimental system is the mouse; however, we also conduct studies in baboons, opossums, and other mammalian species. We are interested in 1) differential gene expression in germ cells and the mechanisms that regulate this; 2) X-chromosome activity and inactivity in germ cells; 3) genomic imprinting and how this becomes established during gamatogenesis; 4) animal cloning and abnormalities this process may induce in genetic and epigenetic programming mechanisms; and 5) manipulation of germ cells from baboons to generate transgenic non-human primates.

Dr. Isabel Muzzio
Isabel Muzzio, Ph.D.

Dr. Muzzio’s lab investigates the cellular and molecular mechanisms associated with episodic memory and spatial navigation. Episodic memories are events that happen in specific contexts at particular times. The hippocampus is a brain region that plays a crucial role in the encoding and retrieval of episodic memories.

Dr. Carlos Paladini
Carlos Paladini, Ph.D.

Research focuses on two broad approaches to study dopamine system physiology: 1) direct manipulation of receptor interactions on individual dopamine neurons in vivo and in vitro to investigate normal physiology and function; and 2) behaviorally-induced changes of receptor interactions via drug self-administration assays, which will determine the causal relationship between altered receptor interactions and drug-seeking behaviors. To achieve the first goal, we measure physiological responses (i.e., current, voltage and calcium fluxes) of dopamine neurons to electrophysiological stimulation and direct application of pharmacological agents. For the second goal, we use behavioral measures and electrophysiological techniques in tandem. Through combined electrophysiological, imaging, pharmacological, and behavioral methods we investigate dopamine neuron function to arrive at the functional contribution of this system in both normal and pathological states.

Dr. Robert Renthal
Robert Renthal, Ph.D.

Research focus includes: 1) Insect sensory reception: How is information stored and transferred by social insects? Ant colonies are considered to be prime examples of "self-organizing" systems. This idea is being tested by examining the mechanisms of pheromone signaling by ants, using methods ranging from proteomic analysis and electron microscopy of ant brains to studies of whole colony behavior; and 2) Cell membrane assembly: How are integral membrane proteins assembled in lipid bilayers? Using biophysical and genetic methods, studies are involved in association and folding of model transmembrane peptides and integral membrane proteins.

Dr. Stephen Saville
Stephen Saville, Ph.D.

Primary studies the opportunistic pathogenic fungus Candida albicans. C. albicans is part of the normal human microbiota but it is also capable of causing disease (candidiasis), both superficial and severe, in an expanding population of immunosuppressed patients. Some of the highlights of this research program are: i) the role of morphogenetic conversions (shape changes) in the pathogenesis of candidiasis, ii) analysis of global gene expression changes during infection and iii) high throughput screening of small molecule libraries in an attempt to identify potential new therapeutic agents for candidiasis.

Dr. Valerie Sponsel
Valerie Sponsel, Ph.D.

Research looks at growth and development in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, which is easy to grow, has a short life cycle, has a small genome, and produces thousands of seeds per plant. By making genetic mutants of Arabidopsis we are able to select for mutant plants in which processes that are known to be controlled by gibberellins are altered. An investigation into which biochemical processes have been altered or perturbed in a mutant can lead to a clearer understanding of how those processes operate in wild-type individuals. In turn this information may be use to determine how plant growth or development could be manipulated in a specific manner to improve crop productivity and yield.

Dr. Garry Sunter
Garry Sunter, Ph.D.

Main research focus is directed toward the study of plant gene expression, DNA replication and plant-pathogen interactions using single-stranded DNA plant viruses of the family Geminiviridae as a model system. One aspect of the research involves transcriptional regulation. In many viral systems, gene expression follows a temporal sequence that is closely coordinated and during the initial stages of infection viral DNA replication and transcription rely entirely on the host and in many cases some of the viral proteins initially expressed are subsequently involved in the regulation of other viral genes. A second interest involves the role of viral genes in host gene activation. Geminiviruses rely primarily on host replication and transcriptional machinery to express their genes and amplify their genomic DNA.

Dr. Todd Troyer
Todd Troyer, Ph.D.

Dr. Troyer's research focuses on understanding the neural mechanisms underlying complex temporal behavior. Research activity is centered around two major projects: 1) Behavioral analysis and computational modeling of vocal development in songbirds. Goals: to collect and analyze a large database of song collected from juvenile bird and to construct computational models of song learning; and 2) Use of theory and modeling to explore temporal (timed) coding in neurons and explore the possibility that neural circuits use interacting encoding schemes operating on different time scales to multiplex information.

Dr. Matthew Wanat
Matthew Wanat, Ph.D.

Research examines the neurobiology mediating motivated behavior, with a particular focus on the role of the neurotransmitter dopamine in these processes. Research approach utilizes a number of experimental techniques including electrophysiology, voltammetry, pharmacology, and behavioral manipulations.

Dr. Yufeng Wang
Yufeng Wang, Ph.D.

Research focuses on the comparative genomics, molecular evolution, and population genetics of gene families. Approaches range from the use of cutting edge bioinformatic and genomic tools, to statistical modeling and analysis based on evolution and population genetics theory. Interest is in (1) the evolutionary mechanisms and population genetics of infectious diseases; and (2) the molecular evolution of vertebrate gene families, with a particular emphasis on the age distribution and functional divergence of duplicated genes, which are believed to provide the raw material for functional novelty in higher eukaryotes.

Dr. Nicole Wicha
Nicole Wicha, Ph.D.

Research focuses on understanding how the brain processes language in real time using both behavioral and brain-imaging techniques, in particular event-related brain potentials (ERPs), which is a non-invasive direct measure of electrical brain activity with excellent precision in the time domain. These techniques to study the brain processes underlying language comprehension, such as how the monolingual brain comprehends written and spoken sentences, and when and how different sources of linguistic information (e.g., grammar and word meaning) affect our ability to understand an utterance.

Dr. Charles Wilson
Charles Wilson, Ph.D.

Dr. Wilson’s lab studies the circuitry and neurons of the basal ganglia, with the goal of understanding the computational function of these structures at the cellular level, and their dysfunction in diseases, especially Parkinson’s Disease. Their experiments are focused on the ionic mechanisms that endow each cell type with its characteristic responses to synaptic input, the patterns of connectivity that deliver specific inputs to each cell, and the dynamics that arise from the combination of these.

Dr. Floyd Wormley, Jr.
Floyd Wormley Jr., Ph.D.

Studies involve using Cryptococcus neoformans as a model organism to study host-fungal interactions for the purpose of developing novel immune therapies and/or vaccines to treat or prevent invasive fungal infections. C. neoformans, the causative agent of cryptococcosis, is a fungal pathogen that frequently infects the central nervous system (CNS) of immune compromised individuals causing life-threatening meningoencephalitis.


Biomedical Engineering Mentors

Dr. Mark Appleford
Mark Appleford, Ph.D.

The focus of my research is to examine bone cell interactions with biomaterials and to study the pathways of cell differentiation into mature tissues. To clarify cell-biomaterial interactions we examine the integrin receptor activity of cells during their first contact with a biomaterial. Sub-cellular signaling pathways have been identified to track key players such as the stress activated protein kinases (SAPK), viability markers such as P38 and differentiation gene transcription factor RUNX2. By following pathways from outside the cell, through internal protein signaling and finally to the production of specific proteins by the cell, we can help explain the mechanisms responsible for implant rejection or successful long-term integration.

Dr. Rena Bizios
Rena Bizios, Ph.D.

Research activities of my laboratory have focused on cellular and tissue engineering, tissue regeneration, biomaterials (including nanostructured ones), mechanisms of cellular responses to stimuli (chemical, mechanical, magnetic, electrical), and biocompatibility (specifically, cell/biomaterial interactions). For this purpose, information and insight that have become available through recent advances in a number of disciplines such as cellular/molecular biology, biochemistry, materials science, etc., has been utilized. Examples of such endeavors include: modification of material surfaces with immobilized, bioactive compounds such as select adhesive peptides; micropatterning of material surfaces in order to direct and control subsequent adhesion of specific cell lines in designated domains; and novel material formulations (specifically, nanoceramics and nanocomposites) with unique biocompatibility and/or improved mechanical and electrical properties. Cellular, in vitro models have been used to evaluate the cytocompatibility of these constructs and to determine the chemical conditions and biophysical (specifically, pressure, electric and magnetic) stimuli needed to promote neotissue growth. This research exemplifies alternative strategies and novel approaches of great potential for tissue regeneration purposes in tissue engineering and other biomedical applications.

Dr. Ender Finol
Ender Finol, Ph.D.

In my Vascular Biomechanics and Biofluids Laboratory (VBBL), we investigate the dynamics of blood flow and its relationship with disease. The ability to model biological flow systems experimentally and numerically is now an important component to fundamental research of vascular disease. It is of great interest to both clinical researchers and bioengineers to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of flow-induced parameters in arterial geometries under diverse flow conditions. Image-based modeling techniques and numerical methods can provide quantification of flow and structural variables for select regions of interest. The current research projects at VBBL can be broadly classified in the areas of (1) computational biomechanics, and (2) design and optimization of medical devices. The ultimate goal of this research is to optimize the treatment options of vascular diseases and design better medical devices for these options.

Dr. Teja Guda
Teja Guda, Ph.D.

My current interests are focused on developing regenerative strategies for musculo-skeletal tissue engineering. On-going projects focus on bio-printing of tissues, drug delivery technology and the development of bioreactors for stimulating tissue regeneration.

Dr.Hai-Chao Han
Hai-Chao Han, Ph.D.

Research goals are to establish a biomechanical model of artery buckling and to determine the role of mechanical factors in artery buckling. The research objectives are to establish biomechanical models for three common forms of artery buckling under blood pressure and axial elongation. Both theoretical model analysis and experimental measurement approaches will be used to determine the critical loads that lead to arterial buckling including the critical internal blood pressure, axial elongation, and twist angle. The effect of arterial diameter, length, wall thickness, material nonlinearity, and initial curvature on artery buckling will be evaluated. Model predictions will be compared to experiment results using porcine arteries and veins.

Dr. Yufei Huang
Yufei Huang, Ph.D.

Research is focused on developing computational approaches for understanding gene regulation and cancer biology, specifically in the following topics: 1) analyzing high throughput data including microarray data, Mass Spectrometry data, protein array data; 2) integrating disparate high throughput data for the purpose of uncovering gene networks; 3) metabolic pathway reconstruction and analysis for infectious disease; and 4) understand the regulatory role of noncoding RNA  in cancer. The long-term goal is to develop computational algorithms and software for data integration, uncovering gene networks, etc.

Dr. Joo Ong
Joo Ong, Ph.D.

Research is focused two main projects related to calcium phosphate ceramics for use in medicine: 1) research on repairing bone defects as a result of orthopedic trauma. Projects involved have included modifications of scaffold architecture and the evaluation of bone responses to optimized scaffold properties; and 2) to better understand the biological basis for successful orthopedic and dental implant therapy by elucidating the phenomena that govern osseointegration. Central to achieving this goal is the need to understand the mechanisms which control early responses of bone cells, both at implant surfaces and in the micro-environment associated with the cell-implant interface.

Dr. Xiaodu Wang
Xiaodu Wang, Ph.D.

Current research focus is to explore whether the bone remodeling process is one of mechanisms of introducing age-related changes in the collagen network. Moreover, it is attempted to examine whether such changes contribute to the decreased toughness of aged bone. To address these issues, secondary osteon and interstitial bone specimens will be directly tested so that effects of bone remodeling on the molecular, microstructural, ultrastructural, and mechanical properties of bone in these regions can be studied individual. Recent developments include techniques and approaches to perform the experiments required for testing bone specimens from secondary osteons and interstitial bone regions.

Dr. Jing Yong Ye
Jing Yong Ye, Ph.D.

Dr. Ye's research covers a wide range of areas in biomedical optics and nanobiotechnology, with special emphasis on the development of cutting-edge ultrasensitive and ultrafast laser-based detection techniques and methodologies to address critical issues at the frontier of biomedical science and technology. His research activities involve: 1) ultrafast laser interaction with nanoparticle targeted cancer cells, 2) in vivo fiber-optic biosensing and imaging of multifunctional nano-devices for drug delivery, 3) fiber scanning multiphoton microscopy, 4) photonic crystal biomolecular assay, 5) novel optoacoustic sensor development, 6) in vivo two-photon flow cytometry, 7) adaptive optical aberration correction in confocal microscopy, and 8) single-molecule fluorescence imaging and spectroscopy.


Chemistry Mentors

Dr. Stephan Bach
Stephan Bach, Ph.D.

Mass spectrometry has critical applications in a wide variety of diverse scientific disciplines. It is the analytical engine that powers proteomics, drug discovery, and environmental assessment, to name a few. Our interests are focused on several unique and challenging areas. The aqueous chemistry of transition metal complexes (cis-platin derivatives), developing analytical methods for small molecules of medical interests (anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants), using mass spectrometry for assessing fate and transport of pollutants, and developing methods for using laser desorption techniques coupled to time-of-flight mass spectrometry for the rapid screening of small molecules.

Dr. Michael Doyle
Michael Doyle, Ph.D.

The major focus of our research program is the development of highly selective and efficient catalytic processes for the synthesis of biologically relevant compounds. Investigations are built upon unique, highly efficient and selective, catalytic uses of dirhodium and other transition metal catalysts.

Dr. Doug Frantz
Doug Frantz, Ph.D.

The centralized theme of research in my lab involves the application and development of new synthetic methodology in organic chemistry that can provide new avenues of chemical reactivity while keeping practicality as a viable and equally important goal. Many of the reactions we develop are mediated by late-transition metals catalysts that are fine-tuned through the use of real-time quantitative techniques allowing us to rapidly screen new reactions and parameters with unparalleled efficiency in academia. Furthermore, my lab is also involved with several medicinal chemistry programs aimed at developing new small molecule probes towards studying the mechanisms of stem cell differentiation. Students in my lab learn techniques in synthetic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical organic chemistry and drug discovery and development.

Dr. Waldemar Gorski
Waldemar Gorski, Ph.D.

Research focus includes 1) Electroanalysis: development of electrochemical sensors and biosensors for biologically important molecules. In particular, development of sensitive electrochemical sensors for hormone insulin and new amperometric biosensors based on the immobilized oxidase enzymes for glucose, lactate, and glutamate; and 2) Electrocatalysis: preparation and characterization of inorganic catalytic surfaces for the development of a variety of electrochemical devices such as sensors, biosensors, biological fuel cells, and clean chemical reactors. The focus here is on the design of multicomponent inorganic systems displaying synergistic effects.

Dr. Donald Kurtz
Donald Kurtz, Ph.D.

A major aspect of our research focuses on the structure, function, and catalytic mechanisms of bacterial and archaeal non-heme iron enzymes that reductively scavenge diatomic oxygen and nitrogen species. These scavenging and sensing reactions require specialized active sites with novel iron coordination environments and novel mechanisms, which we follow by rapid kinetic and spectroscopic techniques as well as protein X-ray crystallography. We are also attempting to develop an oxygen-carrying protein as a blood substitute. A related project focuses on proteins that catalyze storage and release of intracellular iron. An exciting new development is the use of these iron storage proteins as scaffolds to enclose metal and semiconductor nanoparticles for photochemical H2 production and photo-initiated delivery of toxic iron to cancer cells.

Dr. Oleg Larionov
Oleg Larionov, Ph.D.

The research in my group spans methodology and complex molecule synthesis. In this context, the development of novel selective and efficient reactions will be followed by their implementation in the total synthesis of biologically active natural products and analogs, with a special focus on compounds targeting cancer. In our search for new reactions we strive to develop catalytic and generally applicable processes with potential to streamline present day synthetic approaches and solve their long-standing problems. In total synthesis we accentuate brevity, efficiency and flexibility in generation of molecular complexity.

Dr. Aimin Liu
Aimin Liu, Ph.D.

Research in our lab studies how biomolecules utilize metals to perform the chemistry necessary for life. We study mechanisms of oxygen activation by metalloenzymes and metalloproteins-mediated signal transduction regulation. To explore these phenomena, we utilize a wide array of techniques such as EPR spectroscopy, stopped-flow rapid kinetics, and protein X-ray crystallography. Our on-going research projects lie at the interface of chemistry and biology and span a broad range of topics including mechanistic enzymology, cofactor biogenesis, radical enzymology, and metalloprotein-mediated redox stress-linked transcriptional activation and gene regulation mechanisms.

Dr. Ghezai Musie
Ghezai Musie, Ph.D.

The primary research interest revolves around understanding the role transition metal ions play in small molecule recognition and catalysis in biological systems. Our efforts have been focused on the design, synthesis, and characterization of metal complexes as synthetic models for active sites of metalloenzymes involved in carbohydrate recognition, CO2 activation, and hydrolysis of phosphoester bonds.

Dr. George Negrete
George Negrete, Ph.D.

Research focus includes 1) Asymmetric Synthesis: Development of new asymmetric synthesis methodologies; 2) Green Chemistry: Design and implementation of aqueous synthetic organic methods; 3) β-Homoamino Acids: Design and implementation of new approaches to prepare diverse β-homoamino acids; 4) Novel Lipopeptides: Synthesis and properties of fatty-derivatized amino acids; and 5) Chemical Carcinogenesis: Synthesis and properties of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon analogs including BPDE-deoxynucleoside adducts.

Dr. Zachary Tonzetich
Zachary Tonzetich, Ph.D.

Research activities in my laboratory are concerned with the synthesis, characterization, and reactivity of new transition-metal containing molecules relevant to catalysis and biomimetic chemistry. We are particularly interested in the chemistry of alkyl complexes of Mn, Fe, and Co, as these compounds occupy a unique place at the interface of traditional organometallic molecules that obey the 18-electron rule, and classical coordination complexes that tend to display various spin states.

Dr. Francis Yoshimoto
Francis Yoshimoto, Ph.D.

I will teach students how to express and purify human enzymes from bacteria. By using the tools (enzymes and chemical probes) they create independently, the students will learn how to run enzymology assays using LC-MS or LC-UV detection approaches, and in turn, will make new discoveries that will impact human health.

Dr. John Zhao
John Zhao, Ph.D.

Research focus includes: 1) Asymmetric synthesis and reactions: Design and synthesis of new chiral ligands for asymmetric epoxidations, C-H oxidations and episulfidations, and application of these new methodologies in asymmetric synthesis; 2) Small ring compounds: Synthesis and reactions of dioxiranes, cyclopropanes, episulfides, oxaziridinium salts and organometallic peroxo complexes; 3) Oxidation: Novel asymmetric oxidations with dioxiranes, oxaziridinium salts and MTO; and 4) Phosphorus chemistry: Application of cyclopropylphosphine oxides in the synthesis of heterocyclic nature products.


Computer Science Mentors

Dr. Kay Robbins
Kay Robbins, Ph.D.

Research focuses on visualization, analysis and management of multimedia data sets, particularly those generated from scientific experiments in three major application areas: biological applications (in neuroscience, immunology, and bioinformatics), pattern forming systems and geophysical systems. Recent developments include extracting wave structure from experimental data and am applying these techniques to understand the structure of cortical response. A major software development project called Davis has been developed to implement the data analysis techniques in a practical working system for scientists.


Physics Mentors

Dr. Lorenzo Brancaleon
Lorenzo Brancaleon, Ph.D.

Two main research areas include: (i) protein conformational changes induced by exogenous molecules: research investigates the binding of porphyrin-like photosensitizers to globular proteins (currently lactoglobulin and tubulin) and the effect of the irradiation of the porphyrin/protein complex on the conformation (secondary and tertiary) of the protein; and (ii) use of smart materials for the formation of coexisting phospholipid phases: investigating the deposition of phospholipid bilayers on highly epitaxial ferroelectric film.

Dr. Liao Chen
Liao Chen, Ph.D.

Research focus includes: 1) Atomic force microscopy: current pursuit includes extensions and applications of this new formula into various biomolecules; 2) Molecular motors: current efforts are to build a three-dimensional multi-body model and to establish atomistic simulations for refining the model parameters; 3) Non-equilibrium statistical physics - Langevin dynamics (stochastic processes) is ubiquitous in materials physics, chemistry, and engineering. Yet its solution is very difficult to achieve for most problems of fundamental and practical importance. Base on its path integral formulation, systematic approximations and numerical methods are being developed for physical and biochemical systems; 4) Transition and reaction pathways: research efforts in this area are to compute fluctuations around the minimum energy path and to develop efficient algorithms for transition path sampling; and 5) Electronic transport in semiconductor nanostructures.

Dr. Miguel Jose-Yacaman
Miguel Jose-Yacaman, Ph.D.

My research interests have always been very broad. However, my primary interest has been the structure and properties of nanoparticles including metals, semiconductors, and magnetic materials. I have done research on: synthesis and characterization of new materials most of them nanoparticles, surfaces and interfaces, defects in solids, electron diffraction and imagining theory, quasicrystals, archaeological materials, and catalysis.

Dr. Marcelo Marucho
Marcelo Marucho, Ph.D.

Our research focuses on the development and application of new statistical mechanical theories and computational approaches combined with simulation techniques to describe physical phenomena in a broad range of applications relevant to chemistry, physics, biology and engineering. The areas of interest include the study of the molecular mechanisms governing ligand-receptor affinities and molecular recognition for elucidating the structure, function, and physiological roles of: 1) biomolecules immersed in aqueous environments; 2) ion diffusion and selectivity through realistic models of biological ion channel proteins; 3) nanoparticles interacting with surfaces (membranes); and 4) drug delivery therapies and aggregation of highly charged macroions.

Dr. Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer, Ph.D.

Our lab uses optical techniques to study the bio-nano interface. In particular, we specialize in the detection and imaging of single molecules, and the interaction of molecules with metal surfaces. We are currently developing three major projects: 1) the use of ultra-sensitive localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) sensors to measure molecular binding and conformational changes on surfaces; 2) super-resolution microscopy studies of surface bound molecules, including nanoparticle-bound antibodies; and 3) single-molecule kinetics studies based upon microwell technology.

Dr. Carlos Monton
Carlos Monton, Ph.D.

Dr. Monton interest is in the magneto-electrical properties of nanosized materials such as molecules, multicomposition nanodots and nanowires, thin films, and superlattices. In Dr. Monton's group, these multifunctional nanostructures are fabricated, characterized, and used to tackle fundamental applied problems such as high-density data storage and highly sensitive-selective bio-chemical sensors.

Dr. Kelly Nash
Kelly Nash, Ph.D.

Our group investigates various nanomaterials through their unique optical signatures. The goal is to understand the structure-function relationship of these materials through their unique optical signatures and responses in a variety of matrices. Our fabrication techniques include wet chemical synthesis and characterization techniques focus on optical spectroscopy. Additionally, we work with collaborators to establish unique applications for these materials, particularly in the area of biophotonics.

Dr. Dhiraj Sardar
Dhiraj Sardar, Ph.D.

Laboratory research is focused on the syntheses of lanthanide-based nanoparticles, having characterized the optical properties of these nanoparticles. The development of RE-doped metal oxide nanoparticles for biosensors has been proposed, with the objective that RE-doped nanoparticles that will be suitable for imaging and immunoassay applications will be designed. Rare earth (RE)-doped metal oxides are a promising new class of particles that can serve as a luminescent tag or reporter for affinity or immunoassays in biomedical, environmental, food quality, and drug testing probe. These nanoparticles possess several attractive attributes such as a small size, a large Stokes shift, sharp emission spectra, long luminescence lifetime, and good photo-stability. The small size of RE nanoparticles would allow them to replace fluorescent molecules or complexes in analytical applications. The large Stokes shift enables one to subtract the excitation wavelength by filtering, while the long lifetime allows the time-gated detection and subtraction of the background autofluorescence.


Psychology Mentors

Dr. Michael Baumann
Michael Baumann, Ph.D.

Dr. Baumann’s primary research streams involve studying how people work together in groups and when they do, or do not, work well (intra-group processes and group decision making), factors affecting the impressions people form of each other (impression formation), and how each of these is influenced by things like emotional state (effects of affect on decision making and behavior).

Dr. Stella Lopez
Stella Lopez, Ph.D.

My research interests involve examining general processes involved in social perception, such as physical attractiveness, physical appearance, race, and gender. I also investigate these social perceptual factors in prejudice and stereotyping processes, social interactions, and attitudes. Other research areas include personality influences in social behavior and the dynamics of online social interactions. I also investigate the application of social psychological principles in the area of health-related attitudes and behaviors. Most recently, I am examining variables that affect or influence college students' performance in an academic setting (e.g., doing well in a traditionally difficult class).

Dr. Augustine Osman
Augustine Osman, Ph.D.

Assessment of anxiety and mood disorders, suicide, pain, and eating disorders. Evidence based assessment. Psychometrics.

Dr. David Pillow
David Pillow, Ph.D.

How individuals construe the self and negotiate identity in relationships, with concentrations regarding (a) the effects of an ADHD diagnosis and medication on self-evaluation and (b) perceptions of belongingness versus exclusion.

Dr. Rebecca Weston
Rebecca Weston, Ph.D.


Interpersonal violence; influences of victimization on women's health.