Team Members

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Ioannis (Yannis) Zervantonakis, Principal Investigator 

Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering and Hillman Cancer Center

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Ioannis (Yannis) grew up in Heraklion (Crete), Greece and attended the National Technical University of Athens to study mechanical engineering. He then moved to Munich, Germany and obtained a M.S. in mechanical engineering from the Technical University of Munich. Yannis received his PhD in the lab of Roger Kamm at MIT, where he engineered an array of microfluidic devices to study the tumor microenvironment. For his postdoctoral studies Yannis joined the lab of Joan Brugge and developed systems biology approaches to study drug resistance and tumor-fibroblast interactions. Yannis is a recipient of a 2014 Department of Defense Breast Cancer Postdoctoral Fellowship and a 2017 NCI Pathway to Independence K99/R00 award. Outside the lab, Yannis enjoys mixing music, kayaking and playing basketball. 

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Youngbin Cho, Postdoctoral Fellow 

Youngbin received his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Korea University in 2013 where his undergraduate research focused on the development of a force loading device to observe the real-time bone deformation. After graduation, Youngbin moved to Mechanical Engineering in Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) where he received M.S./Ph.D. degree in the lab of Prof. Jennifer H. Shin. During this period, Youngbin investigated how the mechanical forces regulate the dynamics of 2D/3D collective epithelial cell aggregates using hydrogel system. Youngbin is interested in developing in vitro culture platform to investigate the immune cell recruitment toward breast tumor microenvironment and understanding the interaction between tumor/immune cells. Outside of the lab, he enjoys watching movies, snowboarding, hiking, and traveling.

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Dorota Jazwinska, PhD Candidate 

Dorota received her Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University, New Brunswick in 2019.  Her research focused on developing an antibacterial collagen hydrogel for wound healing purposes.  She has also worked at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. for 3 consecutive summers, in both the Infectious Diseases and Immuno-Oncology groups. Dorota is interested in developing in vitro bioengineered culture platforms to model tumor-immune interactions in ovarian cancer and improve our understanding of therapy resistance. Outside of the lab, Dorota enjoys painting, hiking, and cooking. 

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Matthew Poskus, PhD Candidate

Matthew received his B.S./M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in 2019 where his research focused on the development of a numerical model of blood damage and membrane transport in microfluidic hemodialysis devices. He also worked at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics in Rochester, NY for 2 semesters and was a member of RIT's Formula SAE team for 5 years, serving as the team's Chief Engineer in his last year. Matthew is interested in using systems biology approaches and modeling to study drug resistance. Outside of the lab, he enjoys snowboarding, running, and working on cars.

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Ruxuan (Rosy) Li, PhD Candidate

Rosy received her bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Southern University of Science and Technology in 2020. In her senior year, she went to Bone Bioengineering Lab, Columbia University for a one-year research program, where her work focused on the mechanobiology of bone modeling and remodeling. She joined the TME lab in Fall 2020. Rosy is interested in using bioinformatics and 3D tissue culture models to study the dynamics of immune cells in breast tumors. Outside the lab, she enjoys playing piano and singing.

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Diana Kulawiec, PhD Candidate

Diana received her Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in 2021. She performed research at the Bioprotection Research Centre studying bacterial biocontrol agents for insect pests, and at the Centre for Bioengineering at the University of Canterbury performing computational analysis of physiological processes related to type II diabetes and exercise sciences. She has also spent a summer working at Regenxbio Inc. in the Vector Core department. Diana is interested in studying macrophage migration and interactions with ovarian cancer cells and how this affects tumor response to therapies. Outside of the lab, Diana enjoys cooking, working out, and traveling.

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Nicholas Ferchak, Research Masters Student

Nick received his bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering (with a focus in Cellular Engineering) and a minor in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh in 2021. His research interests include microfluidics and transport phenomena and their applications to targeted breast cancer treatment. Outside the lab, Nick enjoys rooting on all Pittsburgh sports teams and spending time outdoors.

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Griffin Hurt, Undergraduate Student

Griffin is a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in computer science. His research interests include the use of probability, statistics, and neural networks in making predictions and inferences. He has ten years of coding experience with a multitude of languages and technologies. Outside of doing research, Griffin enjoys teaching international students Python, developing web applications, and collaborating on open-source software. He also enjoys writing music and playing golf.

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Kacy Liang, Undergraduate Student

Kacy is a senior at Carnegie Mellon University majoring in Materials Science and Biomedical Engineering. She hopes to eventually pursue a PhD in Bioengineering. Kacy has spent a summer working on optimizing allogeneic CAR T cell therapy at Precision Biosciences. Her work in the lab focuses on better understanding tumor-fibroblast interactions in breast cancer. Outside the lab, Kacy enjoys baking and thrifting. 

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Aidan O'Grady, Undergraduate Student

Aidan is a senior Biology student minoring in Italian from White Plains, NY. He most recently completed a SURP at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology. He is mainly interested in oncology, specifically resistance to different types of cancer treatment. Outside of the lab he most enjoys playing soccer and watching hockey.

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Suyash Sinkar, Undergraduate Student

Suyash is a Bioengineering student at the University of Pittsburgh, with a track in cellular engineering and a minor in chemistry. Upon graduation in 2025, he hopes to pursue a research-oriented medical degree. His research mainly focuses on computational analysis of ovarian cancer microenvironment models. Outside of the lab, Suyash enjoys swimming, ballroom dancing, piano, and reading.

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Manoj Kuppusay, Undergraduate Student

Manoj is currently an undergraduate student in the University of Pittsburgh studying Biology. Manoj is on the Pre-Med track, and hopes to attend medical school after his time at Pitt. Manoj is interested in interactions in the ovarian cancer tumor microenvironment. Outside of the lab, Manoj enjoys spending time outdoors, working out, and playing tennis. 

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Teddi Bishop, Undergraduate Student

Teddi is a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University majoring in Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. She plans to earn her M.S. in Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Engineering, and will be working as a chemical engineering intern for Procter and Gamble in 2023. Her research interests investigate the infiltration and accumulation rates of macrophages in the tumor microenvironment, and the interactions between T-cells and breast cancer cells. Outside of the lab, Teddi enjoys playing golf, fishing, and swimming.

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Will Blackledge, Undergraduate Student

Will is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Bioengineering on the Cellular Engineering track, with a minor in Chemistry. His research interests include the breast tumor microenvironment, and the role of the immune system on tumor cell elimination. He hopes to attend graduate school in engineering after his time at Pitt. Outside of the lab, Will enjoys playing the piano and alto saxophone, biking, swimming, and traveling.

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Sean Wescott, Undergraduate Student

Sean is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, obtaining his B.S. in Bioengineering and a minor in chemistry. His research interests include the investigation of cancer metastases of various origins and the various cellular mechanisms/microenvironments that govern their migration. Outside of the lab, Sean enjoys playing the saxophone, traveling, spending time outdoors, and spending quality time with friends and family.

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Team Alumni

Rosemary Nti-Gyabaah- Undergraduate Research Student, Fall 2019

Lia Franco- Undergraduate Research Student, Spring 2020 Linkedin

Ashlinn Sweeney- Undergraduate Research Student, Spring 2020- Fall 2020 Linkedin

Don Belcher- Postdoctoral Fellow, Fall 2020-Summer 2021  Linkedin

Alexis Scott- Research Technician, Fall 2019-Summer 2021 Linkedin

Tuo WangUndergraduate Student, Spring 2020-Fall 2021 Linkedin

Sarai Morato- Undergraduate Student, Summer-Fall 2021 Linkedin

Jonathan Williams, High School Summer Student, Summer 2020 Linkedin

Milun Jain, High School Student​, Summer 2021-Spring 2022 Linkedin

Victoria Lieu, Undergraduate Student, Fall 2021 Linkedin

Sydney Borcherding, Undergraduate Student,Spring 2021-Spring 2022 Linkedin

Jacob McDonald, Undergraduate StudentSummer 2020-Spring 2022 Linkedin

Oluwadamilola Ayoola, Undergraduate Student, Fall 2019-Spring 2022​ Linkedin

Nicholas Genco, Undergraduate Student, Fall 2019-Spring 2022​ Linkedin