UW MolE welcomes new Ph.D. cohort

Filed Under: MolE PhDNews

October 1, 2020

2020 MolE Ph.D. cohort attends orientation over Zoom.

We are thrilled to welcome our newest cohort of molecular engineering (MolE) doctoral students to the University of Washington! The 2020 MolE cohort consists of 11 students with backgrounds in everything from bioengineering and chemical biology, to materials science & engineering and applied mathematics. Though this might not be the circumstances under which they envisioned starting graduate school, with some students even participating remotely from another state or country, we applaud our incoming students for their resilience and flexibility. Please join us in welcoming them to the UW and our molecular engineering community!

Learn more about each student and their current research interests below.

Ryan Cardiff

Ryan is interested in using synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, and genetic engineering techniques to find high-impact solutions to problems in sustainability, agriculture, infectious disease, and global health. As an undergrad, he utilized x-ray crystallography techniques to characterize an unannotated CYP450 enzyme linked to cardiovascular disease, and in a separate project, developed machine learning and computer vision approaches to analyze metabolomics datasets. As a summer intern at a biotech company, he studied metabolic pathways related to the immune response of diseased plants. Ryan received his B.S. in Bioengineering from Stanford University.

Andrew Favor

Andrew is interested in protein design, machine learning, and the study of biomolecular self-assembly mechanisms. More specifically, he hopes to study emerging computational methods for predicting protein structure and function to develop new types of materials and medicines. In his previous research experience, in academia and industry, he focused on utilizing modified bacteriophage proteins to create drug-delivery vehicles and antimicrobial agents. He holds a B.S in Chemical Biology and M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

Marc Expòsit Goy

Marc is interested in using genetic engineering and computational biology approaches to increase our understanding of biological systems and precisely engineer new biological functions. His previous research experience includes both molecular biology work to accelerate the development of rapid antigen tests for emerging viruses (Gehrke lab, MIT) and dry lab experience in using machine learning to predict the outcomes of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing (Güell lab, UPF). He also started a team to develop a gluten sensor for people with celiac disease, which was presented in the 2018 iGEM competition. He holds a B.S. in Biotechnology from University of Girona, a M.Sc. in Bioengineering from IQS School of Engineering, and a M.Sc. in Bioinformatics and Biostatistics from Open University of Catalonia.

Joe Henthorn

Joe's research and academic interests are in biomedical engineering with an emphasis in synthetic biology, micro/nanotechnology, and point-of-care diagnostics. As an undergraduate, he studied nanotechnology, tissue engineering, and applied mathematics. His undergraduate research included developing control algorithms for self-guided prosthetics, tissue engineering of arteries, and investigating the metabolism of S.cerevisiae. He holds a B.S. in Bioengineering: Nano/Molecular engineering and a minor in Applied Mathematics from the University of Washington.

Melissa Ling

Melissa is primarily interested in drug delivery and protein therapeutics, and hope to integrate computational techniques into my research. Ultimately, she wants to apply molecular engineering techniques and approaches to improve drug development processes in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industries. Previously, she participated in two summer biotech internships, in analytical chemistry and antibody purification where she worked on improving chromatographic methods for cancer therapeutics. Melissa received her B.S in Biomedical Engineering from Penn State University where she was heavily involved in undergraduate research, resulting in an honors thesis titled “The role of lamin A/C and the LINC complex in TGFB1-induced epithelial to mesenchymal transition.”

Cassandra Maranas

Cassandra's research interests are in the fields of genomics, immunology, synthetic biology, and biomaterials for applications in treating and further understanding human disease. As a UW undergraduate, she worked in Dr. Mary Lidstrom's lab studying microbial engineering for the purpose of developing new, environmentally friendly methods of chemical production. Her senior capstone project involved the development of a high throughput peptide purification strategy at Novo Nordisk. She holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington.

Rory McGuire

Rory is interested in pursuing research at the intersection of microbiology and synthetic biology, involving the design and synthesis of parts of cells, whole cells, and consortia of cells that do not currently exist in nature. Ultimately, he wants to help develop foundational genetic tools and systems that will allow for more precise and reliable control of synthetically engineered microbes. As an undergraduate researcher, he examined the genetic and molecular regulation of biofilm formation in E. coli and helped characterize mechanisms of amino-peptidase inhibition using molecules with the potential to be developed into commercially accessible therapeutics. After graduating he held positions within the biopharmaceuticals industry, a Connecticut state agricultural lab, and the medical device industry. He holds a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Cornell University.

Dinh Chuong (Ben) Nguyen

Ben is interested in the synthesis and utilization of novel drug delivery systems with smart biomaterials. At his alma mater, Vanderbilt, he studied polyelectrolyte graft copolymers for intracellular drug delivery of STING agonists. He aims to collaboratively engineer novel molecules in order to advance the development of therapeutics, whether through enhancement of existing treatment modalities, or establishment of new approaches. He holds a B.E. in Chemical Engineering from Vanderbilt University.

Evan Pepper

Evan is interested in researching the human microbiome and its role in our health by using machine learning and bioinformatics tools on multi-omic data to explore how well the gut flora can explain certain metabolic and autoimmune diseases. His background is in genomics, synthetic biology, and immunology; as an undergrad he spent 3 years working in the Corbett-Detig lab at UC Santa Cruz studying population genomics and developing molecular methods for error-free sequencing. Evan holds a B.S. in Biomolecular Engineering and a Minor in Bioinformatics from The University of California, Santa Cruz.

Janis Shin

Janis' initial interest in vaccines has driven her career in research. Having gained experience in developing vaccine candidates, de novo design of proteins, and commercialization of drugs during her undergraduate career, she hopes to further explore protein science through computational means. She holds a B.S. in Bioengineering from University of Washington.

Sarah Wait

Sarah Wait

Sarah's research interests focus on the development of targeted therapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, ALS, Alzheimer's, and Huntington's disease through the use of molecular engineering to perform targeted molecule interference or through genetic engineering approaches, such as transcriptional regulation using CRISPR or introduction of silencing RNAs. Prior to starting graduate school, she spent roughly four years performing research in the Oliver lab at the University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute, where she studied mechanisms of drug response and resistance in MYC driven small cell lung cancer (SCLC) with the goal of improving treatment options and length of treatment viability for patients with SCLC. She holds a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Utah.