Gassensmith Lab

Visiting Scholars

Alshaba Kakar

B. Sc. Chemistry and M. Sc. Inorganic Materials—Sorbonne Université (Paris, France)

Bio: I was born and raised in France. I got my bachelor degree in Sorbonne Université (also known as Université Pierre et Marie Curie). I am now a senior in Chemistry. I am interested in biomaterials and inorganic materials : I have previously worked on MOF combined with bacteria but also on 3D collagen constructs. I wanted to join the Gassensmith lab as their research is axed on biomaterials. During my free time I take boxing classes, I also enjoy reading books, spending time outdoors and baking.

Graduate Students

Laurel Hagge

B.A. Chemistry and B.A. Public Health—Austin College (Sherman, TX)

Bio: I have two B.A. degrees in Chemistry and Public Health and I hope to meld these fields together by using my science to better people's lives. My background is in organic synthesis with a focus on biologically compatible molecules. I joined the Gassensmith lab because of their interest in biochemical mechanisms and utilization of biological structures to improve on drug delivery and treatments. My current research is in MRI contrast agents to improve MR imaging as a primary and secondary form of prevention for patients. In my free time, I like to cook and spend time outdoors.

Yalini Wijesundara

B.S. Chemistry—University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka)

Bio: I was born and raised in Sri Lanka. My undergraduate research was mainly focused on the synthesis of novel metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and use them in photocatalytic and photovoltaic applications. My current research is concentrated on metal-organic framework chemistry and their therapeutic applications and also enhancing targeted drug delivery using nanocarriers like liposomes. I enjoy watching horror movies and cooking.

Cesar Reyes

Fast Track Biochemistry BS/MS—University of Texas at Dallas (Richardson, TX)

Bio: I'm a senior at UTD studying biochemistry and in the Fast-Track Master's program studying chemistry. I like to spend my spare time watching horror movies with my wife and cats. My current research involves encapsulating proteins in metal-organic frameworks and analyzing their efficiency through various analytical techniques. The goal for my research is to provide valuable data for future applications of metal-organic frameworks in pharmaceutical developments. My career goal is to become a physician-scientist and continue to help develop therapeutic treatments for disease.

Hamid Firouzi

B.S Chemistry and M.S. Organometallic Chemistry—Sharif University of Technology (Tehran, Iran)

Bio: I got my bachelor’s degree in Shiraz University in the field of chemistry and also my master’s degree in the Sharif University of Technology in the field of organometallic Chemistry. My researches were focused on the synthesis of magnetic Copper and Gold nanoparticles as the catalyst for Click Chemistry reactions. Currently, My Ph.D. research interest is the combination of synthesis of organic compounds with the biology concepts for cancer treatment applications.

Tahmid Faisal

B.S. Pharmacy and M.S. Pharmaceutical Chemistry—University of Dhaka (Dhaka, Bangladesh)

Bio: I worked in phytochemistry lab in my undergrad with natural product chemistry. I isolated some bioactive pure compounds from medicinal plants. Currently, my research project is 3D printed microneedle drug delivery system. My dream is to invent and improve new drug delivery system. I am a food lover !! In my leisure, I like to paint, chat with friends and watch movies.

Jenica Lumata

B.S. Chemistry—Western Mindanao State University (Zamboanga City, Philippines)

Bio: I worked on polymer research utilizing substrates from renewable resource during my undergrad days. Currently, my research interest is on developing functionalized Tobacco mosaic virus with paramagnetic compounds as Magnetic Resonance Imaging sensor.

Fabian Castro

B.S. Chemistry—University of Texas at Dallas (Richardson, TX)

Bio: I was born and raised Leon Guanajuato, Mexico. Looking for better academic opportunities, my family and I immigrated to Texas on May of 2012. My interests have always circled around medicinal chemistry. Thus, during my undergraduate research I focused on the synthesis of amyloid forming peptides for cancer therapeutic applications. On summer of 2018 I graduated from The University of Texas at Dallas with a B.S in Chemistry. Starting on Fall 2018, I joined Dr. Gassensmith’s group as a first year graduate student. Currently, my research focuses on the expression of Qβ-MT3 protein for potential imaging and therapeutic applications. Finally, in my free time I promote science among the youth Hispanic community.

Arezoo Sharivarkevishahi

B.Sc. Pure Chemistry and M.Sc. Analytical Chemistry—Shiraz University (Shiraz, Iran)

Bio: I have Bachelor's degree in Chemistry and Master's degree in Analytical Chemistry. My research was concentrated on colorimetric sensors as well as developing biosensors based on metal nanoparticles. Currently my research interest focused on enhancing target drug delivery to tumor via different nanocarriers ( Liposome, Virus Like Particles) to improve current cancer treatment methods.

Olivia Brohlin

B.S. Biochemistry—University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas)

Bio: My undergraduate research studied the effects of extracellular ATP on plant growth. My current research focuses on utilizing the bacteriophage Qβ as a drug carrier. In my free time I like the participate in outdoor activities and play with my dog, Cairo.

Michael Luzuriaga

B.S. Chemistry—California Polytechnic State University (Pomona, CA)

Bio: My interest in Chemistry is Organic Synthesis and characterization of compounds. I consider myself a Green Chemist that has always been interested in alternative types of energy and finding alternative routes that are cleaner for the environment. I am from Hacienda Heights, California and in my free time I like to exercise, cook, and check out new places. Interesting fact: I'm not Mexican, I am Peruvian and have European/Spaniard descent.

Candace Benjamin

B.S. Chemistry—St. John Fisher College (Rochester, New York)

Bio: Coming from the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, I developed an interest in developing more accessible and effective disease treatment methods. I completed my undergraduate studies at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York and found my place right here in the Gassensmith lab. When I'm not advancing my scientific prowess, I enjoy dancing, a variety of arts and crafts, gaming and baking.

Undergraduate Students

Joshua Thomas

Biochemistry Major

Bio: I am a first-year student at the University of Texas at Dallas pursing a BS in Biochemistry. I joined the Gassensmith Lab via the Anson L. Clark Summer Research Program and I am excited to continue research. After graduation, I plan on attending medical school. Besides research, I am a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta, Molding Doctors, Global Brigades, and Intellichoice. In my free time, I enjoy playing basketball and badminton and spending time with my friends.

Shahrin Sharikha

Biochemistry Major

Bio: As an undergraduate student majoring in Biochemistry, I am pursuing a career in the medical field in hopes of becoming a surgeon. I joined The Gassensmith Lab because I am particularly interested in the therapeutic and diagnostic advancements in nanomedicine and cancer research. Along with being an active member of Collegium V and Tri-Sci Professions, I am a PLTL leader for multivariable calculus, volunteer leader for Symbiosis, and mentor for Molding Doctors. My interests include listening to music, drawing, practicing calligraphy, watching movies, and spending time with friends.

Alisia Tumac

Biochemistry Major

Bio: I was born and raised in Romania and moved to Texas when I was 15 years old. I generally enjoy travelling and learning about different cultures and their languages. I volunteer with a hospice healthcare and with the American Red Cross and work as a part-time pharmacy technician at Texas Health Dallas. I joined the Biochemistry Research Lab at UT Dallas because I am interested in the chemotherapy/ radiation treatment of cancerous tumors, and learning about the chemistry and applications behind it. After graduation, I plan on pursuing a Master's in Chemistry and applying to medical school.

Sarah Popal

Neuroscience Major and minor in Business Administration

Bio: I am an undergraduate student currently pursuing my B.S. in Neuroscience with the ultimate goal of becoming an oral surgeon. In my free time, I avidly volunteer for Medical City Plano, shadow dentists and other specialties, and participate in various pre-health organizations. I joined the Gassensmith lab as I was particularly interested in the many medical applications that can stem from their research.


Graduate Student Alumni

Raymond Welch

Ph.D. 2019—The University of Texas at Dallas

Bio: Dual B.S. (Chemistry and Electrical Engineering) University of North Texas (Denton, Texas, USA) In my undergraduate research I learned about thin films, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, building ultra-high vacuum chambers, plasma etching and deposition, and magnetron sputtering. I am from Weatherford, TX and I enjoy blacksmithing, playing sports, watching football (Go Cowboys!), cooking, listening to music, and Minecraft.

Hamilton Lee

Ph.D. 2019—The University of Texas at Dallas

Last Known Location:  Financial Analyst at Merrill Lynch

Bio: B.S. Chemistry—Trinity University (San Antonio, TX) I am particularly interested in how intermolecular forces (IMFs) play a huge role in our world. I seek to advance our understanding of IMFs and design systems that have a positive impact in broad areas of our lives. When I’m not in the lab or performing activities related to lab, I like cooking, playing League of Legends, and playing StarCraft.

Shaobo Li

Ph.D. 2018—The University of Texas at Dallas

Last known whereabouts: Postdoc University of Louisiana Lafayette

Bio: B.S. Chemistry—Beijing University of Technology (Beijing, China) I learned fabrication of ordered macroporous perovskite material in my undergraduate study and found deep interest in porous materials. I like using SEM and TEM to characterize morphologies of the nanomaterials I prepared. In my spare time I like reading, watching movies and playing basketball.

Zhuo Chen

Ph.D. 2018—The University of Texas at Dallas

Last Known Whereabouts:Postdoc, University of California, San Fransisco

Bio: B.S. Materials Chemistry—Tianjin University (Tianjin, China) & M.S. Chemistry—University of Massachusetts at Lowell (Lowell, MA, USA)I joined Gassensmith lab at 2014 Spring. My project is mainly on bioconjugation chemistry of bacteriophage Qβ for smart drug delivery carriers.

Anna Schlimme

M.S. 2016—Chemistry and Education in 2016

Last Known Whereabouts: Chemistry teacher at Wylie High School

Madushani Dharmarwardana

Ph.D. 2018—The University of Texas at Dallas

Last Known Whereabouts: Postdoc, University of Notre Dame.

Bio: B.S. Chemistry—University of Peradeniya (Peradeniya, Sri Lanka)  As an undergraduate researcher, I worked on isolation of bioactive compounds form natural product. My current research is mainly focuses on small molecule organic semiconductors and functionalized Tobacco Mosaic Virus as functional scaffolds. I enjoy reading science fictions and cooking.

Undergraduate Alumni

Hamza Ahmad

Biochemistry Major

Hamza is an undergraduate student that is pursuing a Biochemistry degree with a focus in Premed, as he wants to be a trauma surgeon in the future. He likes to dance, create different types of art, and read in his free time. He graduated from Plano West Senior High School in 2015, and is an active member of UTDDFC on campus.

Cong-Bao (C.B.) Phan

Biochemistry Major

C. B. is an undergraduate pursuing a B.S. in Biochemistry with the ultimate goal of earning an M.D. with a specialty in ophthalmology. In the past, he has earned his Associate's degree at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth through the Cornerstone Honors program. On his free time, C.B. loves to participate in the Filipino Student Association, exercising, cooking, and outdoor adventures.

Jose Maria Ramos

Chemistry Major

Jose graduated with a BS and MS in biology from Texas A&M International University in Laredo, TX. I  was a high school  teacher for 8 years and was then hired as a visiting instructor at Texas A&M International Unoversity.  I am perusing a BS in chemistry from UTD because my eventual goal is to apply to a doctoral program in chemistry.  My research interests include medicinal chemistry and behavioral ecology. I also have a passion for teaching.

Joseph Vo

Biochemistry Major

Joseph is an undergraduate working towards a B.S. in Biochemistry and is aiming for medical school. He graduated from Plano East High School in the top 5% of the class. He currently is a part of the Biochemistry Association, an officer of AOE, and a member of Collegium V. His interests include music, basketball, food, and finding the best outdoor outings.

Hafiz Busari

Graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry in 2015

Last Known Whereabouts: Graduate School at Lehigh University

Udayram Kantipudi

NanoExplorer (Su 2014)

Last Known Whereabouts: University of Texas at Austin

Jisoo Min

NanoExplorer (Su 2014)

Last Known Whereabouts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Joycelyn Yiu

NanoExplorer (Su 2014)

Last Known Whereabouts: Rice University

Na Li

Postdoc 2015–2016

Last Known Whereabouts: Dow Chemical

Nazim Parupia

Graduated with a B.S. in 2015

Last Known Whereabouts: Texas Tech University–Health Science Center School of Pharmacy

Mohammad Kureishy

Graduated with a B.S. in 2015

Last Known Whereabouts: Texas Tech University–Heath Science Center School of Medicine

Quynh Nhu Do

Graduated with a B.S. in 2015

Last Known Whereabouts: University of Incarnate Word--Rosenberg School of Optometry (San Antonio, TX).

Sharjeel Hassan

Graduated with a B.S. in 2015

Last Known Whereabouts: Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine

Nhan T. Khuu

Health Studies Major

Nhan is an undergraduate student and an aspiring chemist whose goal is to obtain an M.D. and practice radiology for his future career. Nhan is an active member of the Vietnamese Student Association and he loves to work out, though his love for gastronomy makes it difficult sometimes to keep his nutrition well-balance.

Stacey DetVo

Biochemistry Major

Kevin Huynh

Chemistry Major and Public Education Minor

Kevin joined Dr. Gassensmith research lab in Spring 2016. He is currently pursuing a degree in Chemistry and minoring in Public Education through the UTeach program. Teaching, along with research, provides him an enriching outlook and the opportunity to teach from both laboratory and classroom experience to as many students he can come across. Aside from college, Kevin cooperates with Rain-Team in the discussion of cancer awareness. Rain is symbolic of the origin of life, and it offers a moment of reflection for the cancers that challenge the medical field and society today. After college, Kevin ultimately aims for a medical profession in the practice of cardiology.

Elizabeth Pham

Health Care Studies Major

Bhargav Arimilli

Chemistry Major and Philosophy Minor

Bhargav is an undergraduate majoring in chemistry and minoring in philosophy. He is a cum laude graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and is from Washington, DC and Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. He is a staff writer for the UTD Mercury, an executive assistant for UTD CometTHON, and an active member of Chemistry Student Association. His interests include graphic design and commercial aviation.

Victoria Nguyen

Graduated with B.S. in Biochemistry in 2017

Last Known Whereabouts: UNT Health Science Center Program

Lana Tuong

Biology Major

Lana joined the Gassensmith group in Fall 2016 and is an undergraduate pursuing a B.S. in Biology. She graduated as salutatorian from Lee’s Summit North High School. She is an active member of the BSA, Golden Key International Honor Society, and Collegium V. Her goal is to become a dentist and travel the world to provide free dental care to those in need. In her free time she does ballet and plays videogames.

Jocelyn Lee

Graduate with Biochemistry Major in 2016 and Education Minor

Last Known Whereabouts: UTeach University of Texas at Dallas