Research Students

Current Students

Frances Huff (2023) is a new ISP student in the laboratory developing conditions for reactive oxygen species assays in Tetrahymena thermophila.

Sharon Sango (2022-23) is optimizing electrophoretic separations of reactive oxygen species indicators for multiplexed measurements of oxidative stress.

Karina Amador (2022-23) is leading a project to establish on-chip pumping conditions so that we can expose cells to chemical stimuli before lysis.

Andres Rodriguez (2022-23) is exploring an indicator dye for detecting superoxide in Dictyostelium discoideum and working on multiplexed measurements of reactive oxygen species in cells.

Former Students

Tyler Allcroft (2020-2023) is performing single-cell studies of Dictyostelium oxidative stress response to singlet oxygen produced by Rose Bengal and blue light. For his senior thesis, he will study the role of cell cycle in heterogeneity of stress response in this system.

Kovarik Lab Summer 2022
Kovarik Lab, Summer 2022: Cameron Esler, Karina Amador, Sharon Sango, Prof. Kovarik, Shanya Thomas, Samiya Mehammed

Shanya Thomas (2022) was an ACS Project SEED participant who worked in the lab with Sharon Sango on antimycin A-induced production of superoxide before she started her undergraduate career at the University of Connecticut.

Samiya Mehammed (2022) collaborated with Karina Amador on a project to establish on-chip pumping conditions so that we can expose cells to chemical stimuli before lysis.

Cameron Esler (2022) did his ISP research in the lab on electroporation for peptide loading in Dictyostelium.

Mengqi (Jonathan) Fan (2019-2021) optimized microchip electrophoresis separations of peptide substrate reporters for protein kinase B and studied the effect of lipid bilayer coating charge on cell adhesion in microchips. He went on to study protein kinase B activity in lysates using peptide substrate reporters and Western blotting. He is currently a doctoral student in chemistry at Northwestern University.

2020 Group Pic
Fall 2020 Kovarik Lab Photo. ZOOM!

Will Krohg (2020-2021) helped to develop separation conditions for capillary electrophoresis of mixtures of reactive oxygen species indicators and peptide substrate reporters.

Misha Mehra (2018-2021) used physiological and pharmacological interventions to study the specificity of several peptide substrate reporters for protein kinase B in Dictyostelium lysates. She is currently a Healthcare Assistant at Planned Parenthood.

Alice Martynova (2019) did summer research with Prof. Cheyenne Brindle and me to attempt the synthesis of a fluorogenic superoxide indicator. She is currently a doctoral student in chemistry at the University of Washington.

Daniel Feldman (2019) worked with our collaborator, Prof. Guardiola-Diaz in Trinity’s Department of Biology, to develop a peptide substrate reporter for mTOR.

Kovarik Lab – Summer 2018: Jason Deck, Greg Kalminskii, Michelle Kovarik, Misha Mehra, and Sababa Anber

Jason Deck (2018-2019) adapted a MatLab program to automate data analysis of our single-cell electropherograms. He also studied the effect of glucose and rotenone on oxidative stress in Dictyostelium as measured by several indicators. Jason is now a student at the University of Connecticut School of Dentistry.

Sababa Anber (2018-2019) is doing enzyme assays to determine the Michaelis-Menten kinetics of several peptide substrates for serine-threonine kinases with the human and Dictyostelium forms of protein kinase B. She is currently a research technician in the Ivanov Lab at Columbia University.

Rahuljeet (RJ) Chadha (2017-2019) characterized how peptide loading by electroporation and myristoylation influences the metabolism of a peptide substrate reporter in intact Dictyostelium cells. In 2018, he began looking at the specificity of several peptide substrate reporters in Dictyostelium lysates using mutant strains. RJ is currently in the doctoral program in chemistry at Caltech.

Jessica Duong (2015-2019) started in the lab by exploring the (non!)compatibility of supported bilayer membranes and surfactants used in micellar electrokinetic chromatography (MEKC) on hybrid PDMS-glass microchips. She went on to do chemical cytometry experiments on the heterogeneity of oxidative stress response in Dictyostelium cells treated with hydrogen peroxide and Rose Bengal. She was a WW Teaching Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and now teaches high school science.

Greg Kalminskii (2017-2018) optimized and characterized pinocytic loading methods for introducing peptide substrate reporters into Dictyostelium. In 2018, he began a collaboration with Prof. Guardiola-Diaz in Trinity’s Department of Biology to look at mTOR activity in oligodendrocytes. He went on to complete his undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College.

Julia Clapis (2016-2018) researched the role of supported lipid membrane coating composition on their function in microfluidic devices. In 2016-2017, she extracted and purified lipids directly from eggs to explore how the purity of the lipids affects the coatings. In 2017-2018, she examined at the role of lipid coatings in minimizing cell adhesion. Julia is now a student at the University of Connecticut School of Dentistry.

Josh Knopf (2016-2017) optimized an electroporation  method for loading peptide substrate reporters into Dictyostelium. He is currently in medical school at the University of Connecticut.

Kovarik Lab - Summer 2016
Kovarik Lab – Summer 2016: Kunwei Yang, Kathy Rodogiannis, Prof. Kovarik, and Allie Tierney

Kathy Rodogiannis (2016-2017) wrote her senior thesis on chemical cytometry of Dictyostelium discoideum. Her focus was characterizing heterogeneity in reactive oxygen species in these cells. She is currently an Perfumery Technician at Givaudan.

Allie Tierney (2015-2017) led our research on capillary electrophoresis-based assays of peptide degradation in Dictyostelium lysates and in lysates from other cell types. She went on to explore how degradation of the peptide-based reporters differs in intact cells compared to lysates. She completed her Master’s degree in the Roper Lab at Florida State University before working at NanoTerra. She is now a doctoral student in chemistry at Tufts University.

Kunwei Yang (2014-2016) developed capillary electrophoresis methods for phosphorylation assays of protein kinase B (PKB) in Dictyostelium lysates. This work combined research on PKB activity in Dictyostelium with a peptide reporter for PKB previously developed for use in human cells. She is currently a graduate student at Michigan State University.

Kovarik Lab – Summer 2015: Zachary Garber, Kunwei Yang, Allie Tierney, Prof. Kovarik

Casey Crowley (2016) began our chemical cytometry experiments on Dictyostelium by optimizing dye loading and on-chip lysis procedures. She went on to complete her undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering at Case Western University and is currently an Associate Product Manager at Zimmer Biomet.

Zachary Garber (2015) studied the effects of lipid bilayer composition and divalent metal cations on the stability of support bilayer membrane coatings in microchip electrophoresis. He worked as an analytical chemist at Aspen Research before continuing his research career at the University of Wisconsin.

The Kovarik Lab at the ACS-CVS meeting in April 2015. From left to right, Livia Shehaj, Kunwei Yang, Prof. Kovarik, and Allie Tierney.

Livia Shehaj (2013-2015) characterized supported bilayer membrane coatings in PDMS-glass hybrid microfluidics. She wrote a custom LabView program to record conductivity data for measurements of electroosmotic flow, which we are using as a readout for membrane stability. She also made LIF measurements of fluorescein and carboxyfluorescein to investigate the effects of natural vs. synthetic lipids and initiated studies on the effect of cholesterol content on coating stability. She obtained her Master’s degree working in the Kritzer Lab at Tufts University and is currently a Principal Research Associate at Accent Therapeutics.

Ellie Clerc (2014) helped to design and construct the microchip electrophoresis-laser induced fluorescence set-up for the lab at Trinity College. She  wrote a LabView program for high voltage control, soldered together leads for electrophoresis, designed an adapter plate for our detector in SolidWorks, and fabricated chips for gated injections. She is currently in law school at the University of Baltimore.

Berjana Nazarko (2014) followed up on Lorena Lazo de la Vega’s project, loading an exogeneous reporter peptide into Dictyostelium cells. She studied the effects of loading time and concentration for a myristoylated peptide and did preliminary experiments on Dicty development. She went on to the master’s program at Central Connecticut State University and is now a Senior Supervisor for cell culture at Charles River Laboratories.

Summer 2014 Research Group
Research Group – Summer 2014 (from the left: Berjana Nazarko, Livia Shehaj, Prof. Kovarik, and Ellie Clerc)

Lorena Lazo de la Vega (2013-2014) wrote her senior thesis on methods to load a reporter peptide into Dictyostelium cells. This work involved her in cell culture, pinocytosis, electroporation, and fluorescence microscopy. She completed her PhD in pathology in the Tomlins Lab, worked as a Research Fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and is now a Scientist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Ranjit Poonen (2012-2013, UNC-Chapel Hill) developed a method for fabricating silica-like microfluidic devices from a sol-gel material and explored the surface characteristics of the resulting devices and their application to cell culture. He also did extensive fabrication with PDMS and electrophoretic separations of cell lysates on microchips for published work on peptidase activity in leukemia cells. He went on to pharmacy school at Campbell University and is now a Nuclear Pharmacist at PETNET Solutions.

Uduak Udoeyo (2012, Temple University) worked with Abby Turner and me in the Allbritton lab as part of the Biophysical Society Summer Course at UNC-Chapel Hill. She characterized the enzyme kinetics for a potential peptide reporter for spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) and presented this work at Pittcon 2013 in Philadelphia. She is currently a Senior Data Scientist in Washington, DC.

Ronald Smith (2011, NC A&T SU) initiated a project on giant unilamellar vesicles. He started this work at NC A&T SU, gained admission to a summer program at UNC-CH to continue over the summer, and then completed the project for credit with me at A&T the following semester. In 2011, he won a travel award to present this work at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in St. Louis, MO. He obtained his Pharm D. from Howard University and is currently a Senior Therapeutic Specialist at Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Jessie Xiong (2010-2011, UNC-Chapel Hill) worked on numerous aspects of a project to characterize sample transport on a microfluidic device for single-cell analysis. Her contributions led to co-authorship on a publication on this work in the journal Electrophoresis in 2011. She graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and is doing a fellowship in pathology at the University of Colorado.

Graham Erwin (2008-2009, IU-Bloomington) investigated the maximum electric field strength and minimum frequency that bacteria can tolerate before electroporation compromises the cell membrane. Graham presented this work at the 2010 Microscale Bioseparations conference in Prague. He completed his PhD in biochemistry in the Ansari Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently a postdoctoral scholar in the Snyder Lab at Stanford University.

Sam Sudhoff (2006, IU-Bloomington) developed a method to isolate individual nanopores in a polymer film using photolithography at IU-Bloomington. Sam used scanning electron microscopy and current measurements on a picoammeter to characterize the patterned films. He has worked at Molecular Products and Eltron Research and Development.

Noah Herron (2005, IU-Bloomington) used fluorescent microparticles to study the variables affecting rachet-like flow driven by alternating electric fields in a series of diverging or converging microchannels. To do this project, Noah learned fluorescence microscopy, electrokinetic transport, and LabView design. Noah has since founded his own business, Urban Farmer.