Active Members

Principal Investigator

Ashutosh Chilkoti

Alan L. Kaganov Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Assistant Research Professor

Cassio Mendes Fontes

Cassio is from Belo Horizonte Brazil and has a double major in Electronic Engineering and Pharmacy/Biochemistry and a Masters in Electric Engineering. He founded and ran as CEO a GMP certified diagnostics company in Brazil with over 80 FDA approved products. He is working with Angus on some top secret research. Outside the lab he likes to lift weights, ride his PelotonTM, and hang out with his wife and dogs, Leo and Einstein.  Believe it or not, he actually prefers American football over football (soccer)!

Senior Research Scientists

Sonal Deshpande

Sonal completed her Bachelors and Masters in Biotechnology from the University of Pune, India. She received her PhD from the Centre for Biomedical Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi (IITD), India. Her PhD dissertation was focused on optimizing nanoparticle design for drug delivery, based on the cues obtained from their interactions with cells. Outside of lab she likes to watch cricket and supernatural and sci-fi movies/TV shows.

Angus Hucknall

Senior Research Scientist

Angus develops diagnostic devices that utilizing nonfouling polymer brush surface coatings.

Daniel Joh

Daniel is from Anaheim, California. He completed his MD-PhD at Duke, and did his dissertation work in Tosh’s lab in biointerface science and in-vitro diagnostics. Currently, Daniel is completing residency training in plastic surgery at Duke Hospital, and simultaneously continuing his research pursuits under Tosh’s guidance.  His research is focused on developing low-cost digital pathology platforms for clinical decision-making.

Soumen Saha

Soumen came from the land of Vedas. He completed his Ph.D. thesis work in CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, India. His dissertation work focused on the development of lipid nanoparticles for delivering small molecule drugs and DNA vaccines. At Chilkoti lab he explores self-assembly and phase transition of polypeptides to address multi-layered challenges of drug delivery. Apart from research, he likes to play cricket and watch movies. He is a big fan of Sachin Tendulkar and Federer.

Staff Members

Xinghai Li

Research Technician

Xinghai is a research technician working with Wenge on animal model design, drug delivery, and protein radio labels. He comes from Beijing by way of Chapel Hill where he worked in a lab at UNC-CH doing molecular biology. Xinghai enjoys Durham and Duke so far; when he's not working he likes to read, swim or perhaps play a game of Go.

Krissey Eutsey Lloyd

Lab Manager

Krissey is the lab manager.  She is originally from PA and has been working at Duke since 2004.  She spends her free time with her family, gardening, or catching up on a good book. 

Post-Doctoral Researchers

Hiro Ata

Hiro is a third year Emergency Medicine resident.  Prior to joining Duke, he completed his MD-PhD training at the Mayo Clinic with a focus on improving predictability and reliability of genome editing outcomes in vertebrates using tools such as CRISPR-Cas9.  Hiro's work has led to a better understanding of local triggers for robustly activating an understudied DNA repair pathway, MMEJ (Microhomology-Mediated End Joining), resulting in targeted induction of DNA sequence changes precise down to the single nucleotide level. As an EM resident, Hiro is interested in developing molecular diagnostic tools for ED-relevant pathologies, starting with bedside detection of bacteremia using CRISPR to better inform antibiotic stewardship, with an eye towards future adoption on to the D4 platform. 

Mark Chen

Mark is from Chicago. He completed his MD/PhD at Duke in the Kirsch lab studying sarcoma and radiation biology using genetically engineered mouse models. Currently, he is a radiation oncology resident on the RORS research track. In the Chilkoti lab, he will study the role of condensates in cancer. In his free time he enjoys traveling/spending time with his wife, reading, church, and cooking.

Taranpreet Kaur

Taranpreet is from Punjab, the northwestern state of India. She received her Bachelors and Masters in Physics from Punjab University, Chandigarh, India and her Ph.D. in Physics from SUNY Buffalo, NY. Her dissertation focused on understanding the phase behavior of multi-component self-assembling protein-RNA mixtures. Besides doing experiments, she likes singing, spending time with friends, and cooking

Yulia Shmidov

Yulia completed her bachelor's in chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Masters and PhD in Chemical engineering from Ben Gurion University of the Negev, in Israel. Her PhD dissertation was focused on developing novel dynamic hydrogels for extracellular matrix mimetics using ELP dendrimers as responsive crosslinkers. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and reading. 

Jayashree Yalamanchili

Jayashree obtained her Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Anna University in India. She pursued her Master's and Ph.D. in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where her Ph.D. research focused on developing an in vitro assay to measure the toxicity of particulate matter on human health. During her free time, she engages in the hobbies of creating art, reading books, and traveling.

Yunqi Yang

Lily obtained her B.S. in Chemistry from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China and her Ph.D. in Materials Science from Duke University. Her past work focused on the synthesis and characterization of DNA and other biomaterial-based nanoparticles for drug delivery. In the Chilkoti lab, she will work on the delivery of mRNA by lipid nanoparticles. In her free time, she likes baking and traveling. 

Graduate Students

Afarin Aghassizadeh

Afarin is from Iran, and before starting her Ph.D. in the Chilkoti lab she earned her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering at the Sharif University of Technology. She is interested in integrating biosensors, low-cost detectors, and machine-learning algorithms for point-of-care diagnostic devices that can be used in deprived settings. Outside the lab, she loves watching movies, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

Damon Burrow

Damon is from St. Louis, MO and completed his undergraduate degree at William Woods University in Biology with minors in Physics and Chemistry. Damon is interested in developing and leveraging sensor-based device technology to help diagnose and treat diseases in rural and underdeveloped regions of the world. Outside of the lab Damon is a fan of basketball, especially the Duke Blue Devils, and playing and writing about golf.

David Kinnamon

Before starting his PhD at Duke, David (a Dallas native) earned his BS and MS in Biomedical Engineering at UT Dallas after which he worked for two years as a Research Engineer for the University. He is interested in working on translational point-of-care diagnostic biosensors and currently has a focus on passively automated microfluidic devices. David loves movies, a good round of golf, cooking, and travelling to new cities.

Kat Lazar

Kat completed her undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering at Tufts University in Boston before moving to Duke. She is co advised by Professor Ashutosh Chilkoti and Professor Joel Collier. Outside of lab she enjoys reading, traveling, art, and dance. 

Chengyang Li

Chengyang Li is a first-year master’s student majoring in Materials Science and Engineering. Chengyang joined Duke this spring and is now working with Daria on the development of a plasmonically enhanced biosensor for point-of-care diagnostics. She likes outdoor activities like hiking, camping, swimming, and badminton. For indoor activities, Chengyang likes table tennis, dancing, cooking, and watching movies. She also has a big crush on animals, and wishes she can go to Africa in the future to do voluntary work for animal protection for two weeks or more per year!

Jason Liu

Jason is from Hockessin, Delaware. He completed his undergrad in Duke BME, c/o 2017. He is working to develop sensitive, user-friendly, portable, economical, and portable detectors for the D4 as a part of the surface subgroup. In his free time, he likes to tinker and make things (ask what he's up to-- he always has some side project!). 

Josh Milligan

Josh completed his undergrad at NC State University, where he graduated in 2019 with a BS in Biomedical and Health Sciences Engineering.  He is interested in combining ELPs with radiotherapy for cancer therapeutics.  Outside of the lab, he enjoys running, photography, and spending time with friends and family.

Max Ney

Max is from sunny Malibu, California. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 2019 with a joint degree in Bioengineering and Materials Science and Engineering. He is interested in granting new material properties to ELPs through structural modifications. Outside of lab he enjoys tennis, water polo, pottery, and exploring North Carolina.

Aine O'Sullivan

Aine grew up in Westchester, NY before completing her degree in Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in 2018. She is interested in applications of partially ordered peptides for tissue engineering. Outside lab, she enjoys hiking, skiing, climbing, traveling, and trying to keep her houseplants alive.

Emilie Pauwels

Emilie was bought up in London in a multinational family. She earnt her BA and MEng in Mechanical and Bioengineering at the University of Cambridge prior to starting her PhD. She is interested in how to develop diagnostic technologies so they can be applied at low cost at the point of care. Outside the lab she enjoys spending time outdoors, playing lacrosse, and travelling to discover new places.

Erica Peng

Erica is from South Africa and graduated from UC San Diego with a BS in Bioengineering: Biotechnology. She is interested in exploring the applications of partially ordered polypeptides. Outside of lab, she enjoys being outdoors, travelling, music, pottery, and watching f1.

Rachael Putman

Rachael is from the Kansas City, Missouri area. She then received her B.S. in biomedical engineering from Yale and is currently pursuing her MD/PhD at Duke. In the Chilkoti lab, she is working on a project using partially ordered polypeptides to augment peripheral nerve repair. Outside the lab, she enjoys playing with her cat, Luna, and dog, Peanut Butter.

Zachary Quinn

Zach, a Long Island native, completed his undergrad in BME at Binghamton University in 2020. He is interested in creating low-cost diagnostic and treatment options for both developing and advanced healthcare settings. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, hiking, and watching the Mets.

Daria Semeniak

Daria is from Russia. She earned her undergraduate and Master's degrees in biomedical engineering at the Ural Federal University. She came to the U.S. in 2015 as a Fulbright scholar and obtained her second Master's in BME at the University of Arkansas. Now, she is pursuing her Ph.D. in Chilkoti's lab and working on point-of-care diagnostic devices. Outside of the lab, she loves snowboarding, traveling, and reading. 

Dan Shapiro

Daniel Shapiro is from Chicago, Illinois and graduated from Yale University in 2018 with a double major in Physics and Molecular Biology. At Yale, he worked on making E. coli produce conductive protein wires with professors Farren Isaacs and Nikhil Malvankar. In the Chilkoti lab Daniel works on creating synthetic biomolecular condensates, trying to get proteins and RNA to clump together with the eventual goal of creating simple artificial organelles. Outside of lab, Daniel enjoys playing with his funk/jazz band, Feels on Hicks St., skiing, cooking, and hopes to become more ~outdoorsy~ while in North Carolina. 

Parul Sirohi

Parul came to the lab from India. She majored in chemistry from University of Delhi and earned her master's degree also in chemistry from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. She is interested in development of protein-polymer conjugates to give a potential treatment therapy for cancer. In her free time, she enjoys playing badminton and watching movies/TV shows on Netflix.

Rachel Strader

Rachel grew up in South Carolina. She completed her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in 2022. She is interested in using ELPs for the delivery of immunotherapeutics. Outside of lab, she enjoys running, playing soccer, hiking, and being outdoors.

Jonathan Su

Jonathan is from Portland, OR and studied bioengineering at Oregon State University. He is interested in ELP depots for drug delivery in cancer applications. Outside of the lab, he enjoys cooking, travelling, hiking, camping, disc golf, and playing violin.

Undergraduate Students

Emma Pastor Goodingham

Emma is from Barcelona, Spain, and is studying Biomedical Engineering. In addition, she's pursuing the Innovation & Entrepreneurship certificate. Emma is working with Dr. Soumen Saha on  novel drug delivery systems, specifically on the development of a PEG-like stealth polymer, POEGMA, as an alternative for PEG (which cause life-threating allergic responses). Outside of academics, Emma enjoys playing soccer, scuba diving, hiking and spending time with family and friends

Achintya Inumarty

Achintya is from Cumming, GA and is studying Biology and Global Health with a minor in chemistry. He is working under Dr. Soumen Saha on novel drug delivery systems – formulating and testing the efficacy of novel POEGMA conjugate lipid nanoparticles (as an alternative to conventional PEGylated therapeutics) using microfluidics. Beyond research, Achintya enjoyes spikeball, pickleball, hiking, collecting coins/coke bottles, and doing anything with friends!

Judy Lee

Judy is an undergraduate junior majoring in Biomedical Engineering from Los Angeles, California. She is working with Kat on the structures of ELPs and their applications. Beyond research, she enjoys reading, walking in nature, and writing. 

Emily Song

Emily is from Alpharetta, Georgia. She is currently an undergrad at Duke majoring in Biomedical Engineering and planning to pursue an MD. She is interested in mitigating the effects of neurodegeneration following nerve injuries. At the Chilkoti lab she is researching polypeptide-based scaffolds to aid in peripheral nerve repair under mentor Rachael Putman. Outside the lab, she enjoys painting, cooking, and fishing.

Joy Tong

Joy is a Biomedical Engineering and Chemistry double major (Class of 2025) from Auckland, New Zealand. She is working with Parul on the development and optimisation of protein-polymer conjugates to improve drug efficacy. You can also find her singing with the a cappella group Rhythm & Blue, rock climbing, journalling, or trying to pet all the cats on campus.

Miranda Zhong

Born and raised in Shenzhen, China, Miranda Zhong is currently a Duke University student pursuing a double major in Molecular and Cell Biology and Statistics with a minor in Computational Biology. She is currently working with Daniel Shapiro, conducting research on intracellular phase separation and creating a potential method for gene regulation. In her free time, she enjoys playing guitar, hiking, and experimenting with old film cameras.