People

PhD Students

Kyra Smart

Kyra Smart
kyra.smart[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Denver, Colorado
BS in Biomedical Engineering, University of California-Davis, 2019

My research focuses on understanding the progression of metastatic breast cancer and the mechanism by which diabetic hyperglycemia can worsen cancer prognosis. When I’m not in lab I like cooking, facetiming my family, socially-distant hikes and listening to new music.

Ismael Ortiz

Ismael "Ish" Ortiz
ismael.ortiz[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Miami, Florida
BS in Biomedical Engineering, University of Miami, 2020

My research interests are in the areas of cancer heterogeneity and its effects on metastasis and cancer cell migration and metabolism. Away from the lab I enjoy watching sports, swimming and chess.

Jenna Mosier

Jenna Mosier
jenna.a.mosier@vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Arlington, TN
BS in Biological Engineering, Biomedical Concentration, Mississippi State University, 2018

My research focuses on how cells respond to the spatial restriction they encounter in the primary tumor environment. Currently, I am looking at whether or not repeated confinement can better equip cells to migrate through challenging microenvironments to facilitate metastasis. Outside of the lab, I enjoy painting, running, board games, and piano.

Paul Taufalele

Paul Taufalele
paul.v.taufalele[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Bucks County, PA
BSE in Biomedical Engineering, University of Iowa, 2017

I am interested in how mechanical information from the tissues guides angiogenesis both at the cellular and molecular level.  Specifically, I am investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying matrix stiffness-dependent endothelial cell behaviors.  Away from lab, I enjoy Rockband 2, snowboarding, and am a sauna enthusiast.

Samantha Schwager

Samantha Schwager
samantha.schwager[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Mequon, WI
BS in Biomedical Engineering, University of Virginia, 2017

My research interests are in the areas of cancer heterogeneity and metastasis. My current projects investigate the contribution of the tumor microenvironment to cancer heterogeneity. Outside of lab, I enjoy piano, knitting, trying new restaurants, and traveling. 

Wenjun Wang

Wenjun Wang
wenjun.wang[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Xi’an, China
BS in Biological Science, Ocean University of China, 2015
MEng in Biomedical Engineering, Cornell University, 2016

My research interest is to investigate how mechanical cues modulate tumor metastasis and tumor angiogenesis. My current project is focused on studying the molecular mechanism by which hyperglycemia induced matrix stiffening regulates endothelial barrier function. Outside of lab, I enjoy reading and yoga.

Matthew Zanotelli

Matthew Zanotelli
mrz36[at]cornell.edu

Hometown: Muskego, WI
B.S. Biomedical Engineering and Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin—Madison, 2015

My research investigates how biophysical properties of the tumor microenvironment influence cancer progression. Using biosensors and in vitro platforms, I am examining the link between matrix mechanics, metabolism, and migration to better understand the role of mechanoresponsive metabolism in metastasis and tumor angiogenesis. When I’m not in lab, I enjoy sports, binging Netflix, and camping.


MD PhD Students

Emily Chu

Emily Chu
yunli.e.chu[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: St. Louis, MO
B.S. in Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, 2018

I study the commonalities and differences in migratory and metastatic phenotypes across cancers. I am also interested in the effects of hyper-fractionated radiation on the tumor extracellular matrix. Outside of the lab, I enjoy bird watching, baking, and dancing.


Post-Doctoral Associates

Jian Zhang

Jian Zhang, Ph.D.
jian.zhang.1[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Jiashan, China
B.S. in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics 2011, Peking University
Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering 2016, Carnegie Mellon University

My research interests focus on understanding the biophysical properties of collective cancer invasion. Outside of lab, I like roller skating and playing badminton.


Masters Students

Ethan Oseas

Ethan Oseas
ethan.c.oseas[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Benicia, CA
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Portland State University (OR), 2020

My research involves investigating the mechanics of the lung tumor microenvironment, specifically extracellular matrix stiffness, to better understand its role in lung cancer prognosis. When I’m not in the lab, I enjoy running, baking and making engineering themed quilts.

Curtis Schunk

Curtis Schunk
curtis.t.schunk[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Brentwood, TN
B.S. in Biomedical Engineering, University of Tennessee, 2020

My research involves investigating the metabolic activity of cells and the traction forces that they cause, to understand a connection between the two. When I’m away from lab, I enjoy sports, traveling, trying to learn guitar, and doing anything outside.


Research Assistants

Tania Goin

Tânia Goin
tania.p.goin[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Porto, Portugal
B.S. in Environmental Sciences and Technology, Porto University, 2014
M.S. in Toxicology, University of Porto, 2017

My interests are mostly on cancer molecular biology and inflammation. My future goal is to start my PhD. Outside of the lab I enjoy sports, hiking, traveling and eating.

Matt Rowe

Matt Rowe
matthew.m.rowe[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Springfield, MO
B.A. in Biomedical Engineering, The University of Tennessee, 2020

I am interested in researching cell and tissue environmental interaction and cancer progression. As a research assistant, my goal is to learn new lab techniques and to improve as a biomedical engineer. I am investigating both the mechanical and chemical effects of hyperglycemia on tumor progression. Outside of the lab I enjoy guitar, reading, golf, and other outdoor activities.

Yusheng (Sunny) Wu

Yusheng (Sunny) Wu
yusheng.wu[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Shenyang, China
B.A. in Physics and Bioinformatics, Wheaton College (MA), 2019

I hope to apply physical principles to understand biological systems, and my current research investigates how cellular energetics contributes to cell motility and migration. Besides a strong interest in science, I enjoy making crafts, such as Origami, paper quilling, and other DIY decorations. I am also a fan of writing and drawing.


Undergraduate Students

  • Caroline Carlson
  • Heng Sun
  • Sarah Platkin
  • Mara Yella
  • Reethi Padmanabhan
  • Addison White

High School Students


Vanderbilt Alumni

Post-doctoral Associates

  • Lauren Griggs, 2019: Director, Multicultural Engineering Program, Assistant Teaching Professor, Penn State
  • François Bordeleau, 2018: Currently an Assistant Professor at the Université Laval, Quebec, Canada
  • Kayla Goliwas, 2018: University of Alabama, Birmingham

PhD and MS Student Alumni

  • Andrew Johnson, MS, 2021, Biomedical Engineering

Medical Student Alumni

  • Tanner McArdle, 2020

Undergraduate Students

  • Mara Rao, 2020
  • Archit Potharazu, 2019
  • Issac Richardson, 2019
  • Natalie Goldfield, 2019
  • Sophie Xie, 2017
  • Ansley Petherick, 2017
  • Harrison Thomas, 2017

High School Student Alumni

  • Anissa Jayathilake, Hume Fogg High School

Cornell Alumni

Postdoc Alumni

  • Saumendra Bajpai, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate, Biomedical Engineering 2011-2013, Now an Assistant Professor at IIT Madras
  • Libin Yuan, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate, Biomedical Engineering, 2011, Now Genomics Associate Technical Director, Labcorp
  • Christine Montague, PhD, Post-Doctoral Associate, 2008-2010, Now a Research Associate at Cornell University

PhD and MS Student Alumni

  • Lauren Hapach, PhD, Biomedical Engineering, 2021, Draper Laboratories
  • Jacob VanderBurgh, PhD, Biomedical Engineering, 2020, Principal Scientist CyteQuest
  • Aniqua Rahman-Zaman, PhD, Biomedical Engineering, 2018, Scientist at WuXi Apptec
  • Danielle LaValley, PhD, Biomedical Engineering, 2018, Postdoctoral fellow at Janssen
  • Joseph Miller, PhD, Biomedical Engineering, 2018, Bridgewater Associates
  • Marsha Lampi, PhD, Biomedical Engineering, 2017, Instructor at the University of Houston
  • Julie Kohn, PhD, Biomedical Engineering, 2017, Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware
  • Emmanuel Lollis, MS, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2016, Engineer at Thermo Scientific
  • Shawn Carey, PhD, Biomedical Engineering, 2015, Senior Scientist at Torque Therapeutics
  • Brooke Mason, PhD, Biomedical Engineering, 2014, Senior Portfolio Manager at Stryker Surgical Therapeutics
  • Casey Kraning, PhD, J.D., Biomedical Engineering, 2013, Patent Attorney with Fish and Richardson
  • Courtney Faber, MS, Biomedical Engineering, 2013, Research Assistant Professor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
  • John Huynh, PhD, Biomedical Engineering, 2012, now Executive Director, Technical Operations, Gene Therapy at PTC Therapeutics
  • Joseph Califano, PhD, Biomedical Engineering, 2012, Principal Scientist, Merck
  • Jonathan Charest, MS, Biomedical Engineering, 2011, Scientist at Rancho Biosciences

MEng Alumni

  • Atrouli Chatterjee, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2016
  • Crystal Shan, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2016
  • Stephanie Cheng, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2015
  • Adeline Chen, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2015
  • Deanna Lin, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2015
  • Zachary Goldblatt, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2015
  • Nicholas Deisadze, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2014
  • Allie Braun, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2014
  • Brian Fleischer, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2013
  • Olivia Torre, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2013
  • Viral Oza, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2013
  • Princess Kara Parker-Smith, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2012
  • Daniel Kim, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2012
  • Matthew Tang, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2012
  • Joseph Shawky, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2011
  • Na Young Kim, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2011
  • Alina Starchenko, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2011
  • Monica Jackman, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2010
  • John Peloquin, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2010
  • Rafael Gonzalez-Cruz, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2010
  • Shaoyang Anthony Yeh, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2010
  • Yun-shao Peter Sung, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2010
  • Chieh-Hsiang Jason Yang, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2010
  • Joshua Horwitz, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2009
  • Katrina Shum, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2009
  • Josephine Bodle, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2008
  • Kartoa Chow, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2008
  • Samantha Spindel, MEng, Biomedical Engineering, 2008

Undergraduate Alumni

  • Andres Larraza BS, Materials Science and Engineering, 2018
  • Jenny Ma BS, Operations Research and Engineering, 2019
  • Shweta Modi BS, Biomedical Engineering, 2019
  • Dylan Parker BS, Biology, 2016
  • Jack Pollack BS , Biological Engineering, 2016
  • Halie Hotchkiss BS, Biomedical Engineering, 2018
  • Karen Martin BS, Mechanical Engineering, 2015
  • Bryan Chan BS, Biological Engineering, 2015
  • Katharina FungBS, Materials Science and Engineering, 2016
  • Michael Mazzola BS, Biology, 2015
  • Sahana Somasegar BS, Human Biology, Health and Society, 2014
  • Peter Joe BS, Biology, 2014
  • Dennis Zhou BS, Biological Engineering, 2013
  • Lauren TangBS, Biological Engineering, 2013
  • Dennis Zhou BS, Biological and Environmental Engineering, 2013
  • Leah Roldan BS, Biological and Environmental Engineering, 2012
  • Kelly McBride BS, Biological and Environmental Engineering, 2012
  • Lulu Bai BS, Biological and Environmental Engineering, 2012
  • Esther Lim BS, Biological and Environmental Engineering, 2011
  • Tracy Cheung BS, Biological and Environmental Engineering, 2010
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