Rachel A. Letteri
Rachel A. Letteri is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Virginia. She obtained a B.S. in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 2010 and a Ph.D. in Polymer Science & Engineering from the University of Massachusetts Amherst under the direction of Professors Todd Emrick and Ryan Hayward, prior to postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Professor Karen Wooley in the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University. Her research interests include polymer- and peptide-based materials with applications in medicine and engineering, and she is thrilled to be building a new lab with an outstanding group of researchers. Rachel thoroughly enjoys introducing second year undergraduates to chemical engineering through her Material & Energy Balances course. She also teaches Biochemical Engineering and a graduate course on Chemistry for Engineering Functional Soft Materials. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, running, and Notre Dame football.
Mark S. Bannon
Mark's research focuses on developing drug delivery strategies for therapeutic peptides to increase their in vivo stability. Specifically, Mark uses exosomes, polyelectrolyte complexes and polymer-metal organic framework hydrogels to encapsulate therapeutic peptide cargo. Outside of lab, Mark enjoys playing guitar and coaching boys lacrosse for Albemarle High School.
Kelly M. Bukovic
Kelly is interested in developing novel cell culture systems for the advancement of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Specifically, she studies cellular responses to thermoresponsive polymeric culture substrates for biomanufacturing engineered skeletal muscle tissue. When not in lab, Kelly enjoys gardening, visiting wineries and art museums, crocheting, and barre.
Zixian is working on antimicrobial peptide-polymer conjugates to improve the proteolytic stability and reduce cytotoxicity while maintaining antibacterial activity of the peptides. She is interested in engineering the molecular structures (e.g., linear, star-shaped, comb-like, and hyperbranched) of the conjugates to study the architectural effects on activity, stability, and toxicity. Zixian is working with Chris to study the kinetics of polymerization to prepare comb-like conjugates. Outside of lab, she loves movies, music, and literature.
Israt Jahan Duti
Israt is developing hydrogels with controllable thermomechanical properties and proteolytic degradability. In particular, she works on designing peptide stereocomplexes as dynamic cross-linkers in polymeric hydrogels. In her free time, she enjoys movies, painting, and crafting.
Vincent P. Gray
Vince is designing biomaterials to target and sequester toxic peptides implicated in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis using stereochemistry-driven and electrostatic interactions. Specifically, he uses characterization techniques to explore the interactions between peptides and optimize the design of biomaterials. Outside of lab, Vince enjoys playing disc golf and ultimate frisbee, hiking, listening to music, and reading.
Mara K. Kuenen
Towards designing materials with controlled lifetimes and addressing issues related to plastic waste pollution, Mara studies hydrolytically degradable poly(amino ester)s. Specifically, she is interested in using a variety of characterization techniques to understand the interplay of solution pH, solubility, and degradation and introducing new functionalities to expand the application space of these polymers. Outside of lab, Mara enjoys hiking, baking, home brewing, and trying new coffee shops.
Clare conducts molecular dynamic simulations to understand stereochemically-driven assembly of peptides. Around SEAS she also is a mentor in SURE (Starting and Undergraduate Research Experience) and a member of Theta Tau. For fun she enjoys trying new crafts and hiking.
Jack's research focuses on the analysis of various methods for encapsulation and controlled release of therapeutic peptide cargo. Outside of the lab, Jack enjoys skateboarding, yoga, and art.
Liza works on atomistic simulations of peptides to understand the effect of stereochemistry on assembly. Outside of lab, Liza works as a tutor, is a member of Theta Tau, and enjoys running long distances and singing with her a cappella group.