Graduate Fellows and Postdoctoral Associates

Albert Kwansa

Project Affiliation: IRG 2

Dr. Kwansa is a post-doctoral researcher working in Prof. Yara Yingling’s group within the Materials Science and Engineering Department at North Carolina State University. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for his undergraduate studies and Virginia Tech University for graduate school. At Virginia Tech, he was involved in research to model and experimentally characterize the mechanics of collagen type I protein (a biological polymer) and its crosslinks. At NC State, Albert is employing computational approaches to model interactions between synthetic polymers and chemical additives (e.g., components of flexible plastics used in construction, medical, and automotive applications). He is also involved with research to model coated gold nanoparticles, which are used for applications such as medical diagnostics, drug delivery, sensors, and electronics.

Cameron Brown

Project Affiliation: Seed 6

Cameron received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Georgia in 2012 under the guidance of Professor Yiping Zhao. After moving to Duke University, he joined Professor Stephen L. Craig's lab and is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Chemistry. Cameron’s research focuses on using macroscopic force to initiate constructive chemical responses in bulk polymeric materials. He is particularly interested in developing stress-responsive materials that strengthen in response to an applied force. 

Chi (Garnett) Liu

Garnett graduated from Nanjing University with a BA degree in chemistry. He came to Duke in the fall of 2014 and joined Blum group in MEMS department in the spring of 2015. His work is focused on designing perovskites solar cells from theoretical research. He is also doing research on electronic structure theory development on top of AIMS, which is an all-electron structure package developed by the Blum Group and many other groups around the world.

Christopher Reyes

Christopher graduated from Texas State University with a degree in Applied Mathematics and a minor in Chemistry. He came to Duke in the Fall of 2014 and joined the Wiley group. His work focuses on synthesis and functionalization of nanomaterials for use in nano assemblies.  His research also includes the application of nanomaterials in micro and nano electronic devices.

Dan French

Project Affiliation: IRG 2

Dan received his B.S. in Chemistry from Butler University and B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Purdue University in the spring of 2014. He is now a Ph.D. student working in the lab of Dr. Stefan Zauscher at Duke University. Dan’s work focuses on the synthesis of biomolecular analogues for the purposes of lubrication and surface coating, with an aim to model lubricin—a component of synovial fluid that is known to be both lubricious and chondroprotective—using ELPs as a backbone for simplicity of production and purification. Furthermore, the use of cellular machinery will enable us to incorporate a variety of binding domains to customize the molecule to the surface of interest, whether it is tissue (cartilage, for example) or that of a device (such as a catheter or prosthetic).

Daniela Cruz

Project Affiliation: IRG 1

A native of Ecuador, Daniela obtained her undergraduate degree from California State University Long Beach (CSULB) in both Electrical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. She first came to Duke and the Lopez lab as a MRSEC REU in summer 2012. Currently she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering under the direction of Dr. Lopez, where she is interested in understanding the dynamics of colloids under the influence of acoustic fields. Her work consists in the use of acoustic standing waves generated inside a microfluidic channel or a glass capillary to assemble ordered clusters of anisotropic nanoparticles. Well-defined clusters assembled acoustically could potentially be used for the fabrication of Surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) tags for near infrared hyperspectral imaging. During her free time, Daniela enjoys salsa dancing, drawing, painting, and playing RE video games.

Davoud Mozhdehi

Project Affiliation: IRG 2

Dr. Davoud Mozhdehi joined Professor Chilkoti’s lab as a post-doctoral associate in 2015. Davoud received his PhD from the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Irvine. His dissertation was focused on utilizing supramolecular interactions for templating peptide folding and designing new self-healing polymers. He is interested in studying the self-assembly behavior of disordered proteins such as elastin-like polypeptides and programming novel mesoscale architectures by protein modifications using chemical biology methods. 

Dong Wong

Dong received his B.S. in Applied Physics from University of Science and Technology of China in 2012. He is now a Ph.D. candidate working in Dr. Robert Behringer's lab at Duke University. His current research focuses on the effect of friction on shear jamming of granular materials by changing the edge roughness of photo-elastic disks, which can reveal detail information in the granular system.

Isaac Weitzhandler

Project Affiliation: IRG 2

Isaac is a Ph.D. student in Dr. Ashutosh Chilkoti's lab in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University. As an undergraduate, he studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Southern California. His research interest is in designing and characterizing self-assembling polypeptides.

Jason Miles

Project Affiliation: IRG 2

Jason Miles graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in Chemical Engineering in 2014. He came to North Carolina State University later that year and joined the Genzer group. His work focuses on the assembly of syntactomers onto surfaces.