People

PhD Students

Emily Berestesky

Emily Berestesky
emily.d.berestesky[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Ashland, MA
B.S. in Biomedical Engineering, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

I am interested in how cancer metabolism varies in a population of cells and how these differences can lead to varied rates of tumor development and metastasis in healthy and diabetic tissues. Away from the Lab, I spend my time cooking, caring for my houseplants, and watching TV with my cat Bucket.

Emily Fabiano

Emily Fabiano
emily.fabiano[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Somerville, NJ
BS in Chemical Engineering, Rutgers, 2021

My interest lies in uncovering specific mechanisms through which cells regulate bioenergetics and migration in breast cancer. When I'm not in lab I love running marathons, eating cheese, or traveling the world and learning about new cultures.

Madison Bates

Madison Bates
madison.bates[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
BS in Biomedical Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University, 2020

I am interested in understanding how diabetic hyperglycemic influences cancer-associated fibroblast plasticity to support tumorigenesis and worsened prognosis for diabetic cancer patients. In my free time I love cooking, exploring new cuisines, and listening to true crime podcasts.

Chelsea Faith Mariano

Chelsea Faith Mariano
chelsea.faith.mariano[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Irvine, California
BS in Biomedical Engineering, University of Southern California, 2021

Currently I am interested in cancer heterogeneity and how extracellular vesicles released by cancer cells contribute to metastasis. Outside of lab, I enjoy sketching, violin, and reading.

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.

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.


Post-Doctoral Associates

Katie Young

Katie Young, Ph.D.
katie.young[at]vanderbilt.edu

Hometown: Austin, Texas
B.S. in Biomedical Engineering 2016, University of Texas at Austin
PhD. In Biomedical Engineering 2021, Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University

I am interested in cancer cell mechanics, specifically in understanding how cell stiffness affects the various stages of the metastatic cascade. When not in lab, I volunteer with a Christian organization, Young Life, mentoring adolescents and young adults. I also love biking, baking, books, and Broadway musicals!


Masters Students

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.


Undergraduate Students

  • Hannah Kirkham
  • Sarah Platkin
  • Mara Yella
  • Reethi Padmanabhan
  • Addison White

High School Students


Vanderbilt Alumni

Post-doctoral Associates

  • Jian Zhang, 2022: Currently an Assistant Professor at University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
  • Lauren Griggs, 2019: Director, Multicultural Engineering Program, Assistant Teaching Professor, Penn State University
  • 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

  • Samantha Schwager, PhD, 2022, Biomedical Engineering
  • Ethan Oseas, MS, 2022, Biomedical Engineering
  • Andrew Johnson, MS, 2021, Biomedical Engineering

Medical Student Alumni

  • Tanner McArdle, 2020

Research Assistant Alumni

  • Matthew Rowe, 2022
  • Tânia Goin, 2022
  • Yusheng (Sunny) Wu, 2021

Undergraduate Students

  • Heng Sun, 2021
  • Caroline Carlson, 2021
  • 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

  • Matthew R. Zanotelli, PhD, Biomedical Engineering, 2021, Post-Doctoral Researcher at Richard A. Cerione Lab, Cornell University
  • 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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