Introducing the MolE doctoral candidates of 2023

Filed Under: News

Sept. 6, 2023

The molecular engineering Ph.D. program welcomes its latest cohort of doctoral candidates. From designing innovative drug delivery methods to developing sustainable materials, the forthcoming research from these 15 students has the potential to reshape industries and solve critical issues facing society. Learn about our newest students and their interests below.

Karl Anderson

Karl Anderson’s interests span synthetic biology, metabolic engineering and their applications in bioproduction. During his undergraduate years, he delved into enzyme engineering research. Following graduation, he contributed to the development of T-cell therapies for cancer treatment at Bristol Myers Squibb. He holds a B.S. in biology and chemistry from the University of Washington.

Riti Biswas

Riti Biswas, a bioengineering graduate from the University of Washington, is focused on utilizing computational protein engineering to accelerate bottlenecks in therapeutic biologics research. During her time as an undergraduate, she developed small tool proteins using Rosetta. She later contributed to protein engineering at Amgen by analyzing antibody protein structures and interfaces using computational tools like Rosetta, aiding research choices.


Jacob Cavon aims to employ computational and experimental methods to construct comprehensive models of cell and molecular networks. Their goal is to utilize these insights to manipulate the behaviors of biological networks. During their undergraduate studies, they secured an NIH IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence grant, supporting their investigation into a group A streptococcus (GAS) virulence factor protein. Following graduation, they furthered their GAS research, playing a pivotal role in developing a novel intranasal infection mouse model. A recipient of the UW College of Engineering Dean’s Fellowship, Cavon holds a B.S. in cell biology and neuroscience from Montana State University, Bozeman.

Stephen Fedak

Stephen is interested in using single-cell transcriptomics to characterize synthetic biology systems. During his undergraduate years, he contributed to characterizing initiation factors in the non-canonical translation initiation process (RAN) linked to repeat-expansion disorders. Following graduation, he engaged in gene editing at 2seventy bio. He holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan.

Arielle Hancko’s passion lies in engineering therapeutics, particularly targeting chronic diseases. During her undergraduate years, she dedicated her research to the field of cardiac tissue engineering. Following graduation, she delved into the realm of neuropharmacology research. Recognizing her potential, she was honored with an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Her academic journey culminated in a B.S. in bioengineering from UC San Diego.

Jihun Jeung

Jihun Jeung explores sequence-structure-activity relationships in proteins and applies computational methods to biocatalyst design and protein-based drug development. Formerly, he employed bioinformatics and deep learning for multi-omics and drug target discovery. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in life science from Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea.

Andrew Kubaney

Andrew Kubaney’s focus is on utilizing deep learning and generative models to create novel proteins, including enzymes for plastic degradation, molecular sensors and mechanical proteins. During his undergraduate studies, he explored the use of ultrasound images for polymerization monitoring and developed software to control lab photoreactors. He also conducted image analysis on the collected data. He holds a B.S. in chemistry and computer science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Christina Maranas

Christina Maranas focuses on biomaterials, tissue engineering, and polymer chemistry for medical applications, aiming to enhance healthcare quality. During her undergraduate studies, she created drug-capturing polymer membranes for chemotherapy’s toxic side effects reduction. She also co-developed a portable bioprinter prototype for tissue regeneration. Maranas holds a B.S. in materials science and engineering from Penn State.

Annika Philomin

Annika Philomin focuses on developing environmentally friendly polymers from renewable sources and creating custom-designed proteins for eco-friendly purposes like sustainable nanocomposite materials and bioplastics synthesis. During her undergraduate studies, she specialized in designing novel proteins that alter oligomeric states upon peptide binding. She also contributed to the structural analysis of these proteins using nsEM and cryoEM techniques. Philomin holds a B.S. in biochemistry from the UW.

Enisha Sehgal

Enisha Sehgal aims to use synthetic biology and protein engineering for a sustainable future. With a passion for collaborative molecular engineering, she looks forward to addressing sustainability challenges through innovative projects at UW. During her undergraduate years, she led structural biology research in her lab, pioneering cryo-EM sample preparation protocols and obtaining novel ribosome complex maps. Sehgal, a recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, holds a B.S. in molecular, cell and developmental biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Ria Sonigra

Ria Sonigra is focused on cell-free CO2 bioconversion, innovative drug delivery and molecular diagnostics for infectious diseases. Her experience includes yeast evolutionary genomics and creating an HIV drug resistance diagnosis algorithm. She holds a B.S. in biochemical engineering and biotechnology, along with an M.S. in biotechnology from the Indian Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University), Varanasi.

Ronnie Weissman small

Roni Weissman’s focus lies in drug delivery systems and immunoengineering. During her undergraduate studies, she concentrated on SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza A Virus research. More recently, she contributed to the development of virus-like particles mimicking IAV for targeted genetic therapy delivery to challenging cells. Acknowledging her achievements, Weissman was awarded the MolE Director’s Fellowship. She holds a B.S. in bioengineering from UC Berkeley.

Kingsley Wong

Kingsley Wong aims to utilize DNA for data storage and molecular computing, employing computational techniques to design specialized molecular structures and strategies for DNA synthesis and sequencing. Previously, he focused on silicon-based DNA synthesis for data storage applications. During his master’s studies, Wong developed conductivity measurement devices for engineered proteins using micro- and nano-fabrication tools. He holds a B.A. in nanotechnology engineering from the University of Waterloo and an M.S. in chemical engineering from McGill University.

Muna Yase

Muna Yase’s focus is on creating custom proteins that enhance immune responses and have therapeutic potential. She is intrigued by engineering proteins to surpass natural limitations for innovative medical solutions. During her undergraduate studies, she researched the impact of receptor positioning and ligand affinity on cytokine receptor signaling. With a B.S. in molecular, cellular and developmental biology from the UW, she aspires to advance groundbreaking biomedical research.