CURRENT PEOPLE

aksan

Professor Alptekin Aksan

Laboratory Director

Professor of Mechanical Engineering

I am interested biostabilization, biotransport, and biothermodynamics. I received my Ph.D. from Michigan State University, and worked as a post-doc at the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. I like hiking, biking, snorkeling, cooking, traveling, teaching thermodynamics, and listening to genre of music not many people enjoy.

ResearcherID   Google Scholar

Diego Escalante

Diego Escalante

Ph.D. Candidate

I grew up and lived in San Salvador, El Salvador, for 18 years until I moved to Minnesota in 2008. Four years later, in 2012, I received my B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. Currently I am pursuing a Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering co-advised by Professor Aksan and Professor Wackett (Biochemistry department). My research focuses on understanding and predicting the catalytic activity of the hydroxylase family of enzymes by means of computational biophysics.  Some of the techniques I apply in my research include: ligand docking in the active site to understand the thermodynamics of binding; elastic network models to elucidate the different spatial conformation of the enzyme; and molecular dynamic simulations to obtain information about the behavior of the tertiary and quaternary structure of the enzyme around its equilibrium point.

Advitiya Mahajan

Advitiya Mahajan

Ph.D. Student

Advitiya completed his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from The Ohio State University. He worked as a research assistant in cardiovascular medicine for two years before joining University of Minnesota. He is currently a first year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering and is working on biostabilization. He is a huge soccer fan and loves watching his favorite premier league team Chelsea. His hobbies include playing tennis, table tennis, cooking, and listening to music.

Joey Benson

Joey Benson

Ph.D. Candidate

Joey received his B.A. in Physics from St. John’s University (MN) in 2013. He joined Professor Aksan’s bioencapsulation lab in the summer of 2013. His research interests include bioremediation, silica based bioencapsulation systems, bacterial spore encapsulation systems, biomineralization, and self-healing and living materials.   

Ezgi Evcik

Ezgi Evcik

Undergraduate Laboratory Assistant

Ezgi is currently a senior at University of Minnesota Twin Cities who is originally from Turkey. She is majoring in Chemical Engineering and her minor is in Chemistry. She joined Professor Aksan's Bioencapsulation and Biostabilization in May 2018. Her research focuses on conducting bioencapsulation and immobilization methods for bacteria, measuring adsorption, and degradation kinetics in different substrates using different bacteria in a flow-through setting.

Beatriz de Souza

Beatriz de Souza

Ph.D. Student

Beatriz received her B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD in 2016 and 2018 respectively.  She is a Brazilian student currently pursuing her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at University of Minnesota. She joined Professor Aksan's Bioencapsulation and Biostabilization in the summer of 2018.  Her research focuses on the area of bioencapsulation, specifically on encapsulation of bacteria and enzymes to be used in bioremediation and biocatalysis. Her initial project focuses on developing and translating a cyanuric acid bioremediation system in a flow-through setting. 

Bryan Jones

Dr. Bryan Jones

Post-doctoral Researcher

Bryan completed his B.S. in Biology at Trinity Western University, BC Canada in 2005, and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota in 2017. His Ph.D. work under Romas Kazlauskas involved engineering enzymes to be more stable, carry out new reactions, and reverse enantioselectivity. He joined Professor Aksan's research group as a postdoc at the end of 2017 where he currently works to develop a process to preserve biological samples without freezing. Vitrification of biological samples like blood serum by addition of a sugar matrix and drying into a glassy solid allows for longterm preservation of samples at room temperature, avoiding the need for deep freezing, which is expensive, damaging to the samples, and not available in all situations.

Julian Preciado

Julian Preciado

Ph.D. Candidate

Julian completed his B.S. in Bioengineering from Oregon State University. He is currently attempting to develop 3D in vitro models to study cancer dormancy and tunneling nanotube formation. Cancer dormancy is a stage of cancer progression where cells that metastized to a secondary organ are in a quiescent state while they evolve to survive in the new microenvironment. No currently known in vitro models to study cancer dormancy exists and being able to study dormancy in vitro would eluminate reasons and possible treatments to prevent cancer metastasis and resurgence. Tunneling nanotubes are nanometer-scale actin-based connections between cells. They are currently being studied as a way of chemotherapy resistance of tumor cells.

Mian Wang

Mian Wang

Ph.D. Student

I am a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering Department and I have joined professor Aksan’s group since 2017. I am currently working in Biostablization lab, studying the cellular molecular changes (such as lipid cell membrane phase change and denaturation of cellular protein) associated with freeze/thaw during cryopreservation of biospecimens. My hobbies include hiking, photography and classical guitar.