Gassensmith Lab

Graduate Students

Perouza Parsamian

B.S. Biochemistry—St. Edwards University (Austin, TX) and A.S. Medical Laboratory Technology—Tarleton State University (Fort Worth, TX)

Bio: I graduated from St. Edwards University in Austin, TX with a degree in Biochemistry. Later, I achieved my associate degree in Medical Laboratory Technology at Tarleton State University at Fort Worth, TX, and worked in the healthcare industry for the past 5 years. My experience in the clinical laboratory introduced me to a variety of medical devices and biomedical applications used in medicine. This ignited my interest and curiosity towards attending the University of Texas at Dallas Graduate School in Chemistry in applications to biomedicine. In the Gassensmith Group, my research is on thermosensitive liposome - enzyme-catalyzed hydrogel hybrids (combinational system) for biomedical applications. In my leisure time, I enjoy spending time in nature, being surrounded by good friends and family, and reading a good book.

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.

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.

Undergraduate Students

Danya Aldhahir

Healthcare Studies

Bio: I am a sophomore majoring in Healthcare Studies and minoring in Spanish. I am Nurse Aide certified and work as a Certified Pharmacy Technician part-time at CVS. On campus, I am currently involved in Alpha Epsilon Delta and the Pre-Physician's Assistant Society. After graduation, I hope to be accepted to a Physician's Assistant Master's Program. In my free time, I enjoy kick boxing and learning new languages. I am currently able to speak Arabic and Spanish, with an interest in mastering French next.

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.

Alumni:

Graduate Student Alumni

Tahmid Faisal

M.S. 2020—The University of Texas at Dallas

Last Known Whereabouts: PhD Program at University of Houston

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.

Candace Benjamin

Ph.D. 2020—The University of Texas at Dallas

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

Shaobo Li

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

Last known whereabouts: Electrochemical Researcher at Xergy Inc

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 Bio: B.S. Chemistry Rice University (Houston, TX)

Madushani Dharmarwardana

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

Last Known Whereabouts: Scientist at Illumina

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.

Postdoc Alumni

Na Li

Postdoc 2015–2016

Last Known Whereabouts: Axar Pharmaceuticals

Bio: B.S. Peking University (Beijing, China) and Ph.D. Tsinghua University (Beijing, China) — Prof Aijun Tong

Undergraduate Alumni

Shahrin Sharikha

Biochemistry Major

Sarah Popal

Neuroscience Major and minor in Business Administration

Hamza Ahmad

Biochemistry Major (B.S. 2019)

Cong-Bao (C.B.) Phan

Biochemistry (B.S. 2019)

Jose Maria Ramos

Chemistry (B.S. 2018)

Joseph Vo

Biochemistry Major (B.S. 2018)

Hafiz Busari

Chemistry (B.S. 2015)

Udayram Kantipudi

NanoExplorer (Su 2014)

Jisoo Min

NanoExplorer (Su 2014)

Last Known Whereabouts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Joycelyn Yiu

NanoExplorer (Su 2014)

Nazim Parupia

Chemistry (B.S. 2015)

Mohammad Kureishy

Graduated with a B.S. in 2015

Quynh Nhu Do

Graduated with a B.S. in 2015

Sharjeel Hassan

Biological Science (B.S. 2015)

Nhan T. Khuu

Health Studies (B.S. 2018)

Stacey DetVo

Biochemistry Major

Kevin Huynh

Chemistry (B.S. 2018) and Public Education Minor

Elizabeth Pham

Health Care Studies Major

Bhargav Arimilli

Chemistry (B.S. 2019) and Philosophy Minor

Victoria Nguyen

Biochemistry (B.S 2017)

Lana Tuong

Biology (B.S. 2019)

Jocelyn Lee

Biochemistry (B.S. 2016) and Education Minor