Lab Members‎ > ‎

Graduate Students

   Lu Gao
Lu is engaged in research to better understand how colloidal particles interact with an external fields, particularly acoustic and magnetic fields. By employing the dynamics of the colloids driving by these fields, Lu is building microfluidic systems with downstream applications of cellular and particle sorting and collecting. His ultimate goal is to facilitate the new generation of point-of-care diagnostic devices. In his spare time, Lu loves playing basketball, swimming, and watching movies. 











   Phanindhar Shivapooja
Phanindhar received his B.S in Chemical Engineering from Osmania University, India. Later, he got the opportunity to join L
ópez lab at University of New Mexico for pursing M.S in Chemical Engineering. During this period, Phanindhar worked on developing new and efficient ways for synthesizing grafted polymer brushes. Being funded by U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR), his research was specifically focused on using stimuli-repsonsive polymer brushes in the field of biofouling to understand the attachment and release phenomena of various fouling microorganisms in shear environment.   







   Vrad Levering
Vrad is a PhD student who joined the Lopez lab in 2012.  His research interests include biofilms, catheters, glucose sensors, cell therapies, and translational medical device development.  Vrad received his Honors Chemical Engineering B.S. from the University of Texas at Austin where he also performed research in Dr. C. Grant Willson's lab (recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation). After UT, he worked as a medical device engineer at W.L. Gore. for nine years. During his tenure at Gore, he worked on products including vascular grafts, pacing leads, aortic stents, delivery catheters, balloon catheters, carotid stents, and shunts. Vrad started the PhD program at Duke in 2009 and received a MS while researching cardiovascular cell therapies, but joined the Lopez lab after excitement about the broad research and translational opportunities.  His current research develops novel techniques for the controlled detachment of the bacterial exopolysaccharide matrix (biofilm) using active soft materials.  Vrad is a Duke CBTE Fellow, Morton H. Freedman Fellowship Winner, and member of the PhD Plus Certificate program.  Vrad enjoys travel, backpacking, out-reach,kickboxing, and salsa dancing.





   Wei Han
Born in Lanzhou, China and having immigrated to the United States in 1995, Wei completed his secondary education in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. He graduated from Duke University with double B.S. degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Economics in 2010. Having completed an independent study in Dr. Chilkoti's lab, Wei made a natural transition in joining the L
ópez group in August 2010 with a strong interest in biomaterials and a continuing fondness for both the Biomedical Engineering department as well as Duke University. Outside of the lab, Wei enjoys playing and watching sports, culinary challenges, and scenic and indoor photography. 

Wei's work in the lab explores the combination of biological and synthetic materials to form responsive carriers and systems with potential applications in delivery and biosensing. Towards that goal, he works with elastin-like polypeptides that exhibit a temperature dependent, amphiphilic potential to form nanoparticles, and conjugate them with bio-inspired peptides that template the deposition of biosilica in physiologically-relevant conditions. By taking advantage of positive attributes in both material realms, Wei is interested in creating hybrid biomaterials with even greater functionality and stability.


   Wyatt Shields
Born and raised in rural Virginia, Wyatt graduated from the University of Virginia in May 2011 with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering. His undergraduate research in Dr. Walker’s ultrasound lab and Dr. Saucerman’s cardiac systems biology lab led him to pursue a Ph.D. in biomaterials. He joined the López group in August 2011 due to the strength, resources, and collegiality of the department. 

As an NSF fellow, Wyatt's research explores both the rapid separation of complex cell mixtures using sound waves as well as the programmed assembly and actuation of soft matter in directed fields. Wyatt is actively developing new methods for synthesizing monodisperse elastomeric colloids from bulk synthesis with tunable acoustic and biochemical properties. He is also interested in non-spherical particle fabrication for field-directed assembly. These technologies will help serve as a platform for in vitro diagnostics and actuating biomaterials. Outside of lab, Wyatt enjoys hiking, traveling, sports, music, and running.


   Alice Linying Li

Alice joined Dr. Gabriel López's lab as a graduate student in 2011. She is from China, where she had three years research experience as an undergraduate working on self-assembly and characterization of nanostructure film in Dr. Kezhi Wang’s lab at Beijing Normal University. In her spare time, Alice enjoys cooking, reading, painting, writing Chinese Calligraphy, and traveling.

Alice's research interests lie in developing stimuli-responsive hybrid membranes. She is a James B. Duke fellow and also a Triangle Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) fellow. Her research was specifically focused on fabrication of Elastin-Like Polypeptides (ELPs)-containing membrane, which can exhibit discrete rapid and reversible conformational changes in response to many environmental stimuli. These membranes offer the promise of allowing greater control of the structure of the dynamic porous network and thus optimization of the permeability of the membranes. Therefore, they can be useful in a number of applications, such as 
biosensors, drug and gene delivery systems, tissue engineering, and numerous nanoscale devices.


   Joseph Simon
Born and raised in the Twin Cities, Joe graduated from the University of Minnesota in May 2012 with a Bachelor’s of Mechanical Engineering. His previous research experiences in Dr. Vunjak-Novakovic’s (Columbia University) stem cell and tissue engineering lab and Dr. Tranquillo’s cardiovascular tissue engineering lab led him to pursue a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, with an emphasis on biomaterials with the L
ópez group in August 2012.

Joe's research explores the development of hierarchical, stimuli responsive materials and materials systems. In particular, he is interested in developing new polypeptide-based materials platforms that exhibit 'smart' behavior and can be precisely controlled on multiple length scales. These materials systems can be used in a number of biomedical applications, from drug delivery to bioanalytical detection. Outside of lab, Joe enjoys watching and playing sports (Skol, Vikings!), traveling, reading a captivating novel, and sipping on a bold cup of coffee. Oh, and you might catch him at Cameron during basketball season!