The University of New Mexico

An NSF Integrative Graduate

Education and Research Traineeship in

Integrating Nanotechnology with Cell Biology and Neuroscience






Michelle Costa
Chemical and Nuclear Engineering

My research involves developing computational algorithms to understand the spatial and temporal organization of cellular components involved in signaling pathways. The model is a spatial-temporal Monte Carlo hybrid which combines the Gillespie non-spatial algorithm with a lattice null-event hybrid MC algorithm.This algorithm enables us to determine the spatial interaction of receptors on the surface and how it effects downstream signaling. Using data from single particle tracking and flow cytometry experiments we have created a modeling framework which has been validated experimentally. We hope to use this model to understand the complex dynamics of an oncogenic cell. My advisor is Dr. Jeremy Edwards and my co-advisor is Dr. Bridget Wilson.


Debra Cox
Physics & Astronomy

I am a PhD student in physics. My advisor is James Thomas (Physics and Astronomy), my co-advisor is Philip Heintz (Radiology). My research project involves exploring how lipid coated microbubbles respond to ultrasound, and how this response depends on microbubble diameter.


Ellen Dengler

In my previous career as a physical therapist, I spent many years caring for people with devastating neurological diseases such as ALS (Lou Gerhig's disease) and Multiple Sclerosis. I hope to spend the next half of my career searching for a means to slow or prevent these illnesses. My path has brought me to the University of New Mexico and the lab of my mentor, Erin Milligan, Ph.D., in the Department of Neuroscience. My co-mentor is Jeffrey Brinker, Ph.D., in the Department of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering at UNM and Sandia National Laboratories. We are investigating a means for improving gene delivery to the spinal cord by using nanoparticle platforms. Currently, we are studying the gene for the anti-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-10, in a rodent model of neuropathic pain. As part of my dissertation project. I plan to explore the use of pDNA-IL-10 loaded nanoparticles as a means to slow or prevent the progression disease in animal models of ALS and possibly MS.  


Bayo False
Chemical and Nuclear Engineering

My research involves the determination of fabrication parameters for the creation of 3-D micro and nano-patterned materials using biocompatible photo-crosslinkable polymers for use as cell culture platforms and drug delivery vehicles. The cell culture platforms will be used to understand and characterize cell-material interactions on different nano-patterned surfaces. The materials will also be used to study in vivo controlled release of molecule therapies. My advisor is Dr. Elizabeth Dirk (Chemical and Nuclear Engineering) and my co-advisor is Dr. Helen Hathaway (Cell Biology). 


Larry Herskowitz
Physics & Astronomy

My advisor is Dr. Steve Koch, (Physics & Astronomy), and my co-advisor is Dr. Mary Ann Osley, (Molecular Genetics and Microbiology). I am working in Dr. Koch's lab at the Center for High Technology Materials (CHTM). My goal is to create a new technique to map DNA. It is called Shotgun DNA Mapping (SDM). Shotgun DNA Mapping is a method for identifying (exact genome location) DNA fragments based on their unzipping forces. The idea is that the unzipping forces which are sequence dependant can be used to identify unknown DNA fragments. .


Patrick Johnson
Chemical and Nuclear Engineering

After completing my undergraduate degree in physics at the University of California, San Diego, I accepted a position in the Brinker Nanostructures Goup within the NSMS department at UNM. I currently work with Dr Jeff Brinker performing various lab wizardry including bio-mimicry and bio-nano hybrid systems among other routine (and occasionally unpleasant) grad student duties. My current project involves pairing living cells of different types with fabricated nanostructures, which together form durable, versatile bio/nano-materials. Applications of such devices include biosensors and platforms for the investigation of cellular processes. Outside of the lab, I enjoys normal things such as skiing, brewing beer and art projects in addition to abnormal things like driving Smart cars and wishing to one day become "that crazy old professor".


Michael Malik
Physics & Astronomy

I am a PhD student working in biophysics; my advisors are Dr. Keith Lidke (Physics & Astronomy) and Dr. Diane Lidke (Pathology Department, School of Medicine); my current research project is with laser line-scanning hyperspectral microscopy, using quantum dots with different spectral emissions to tag and observe protein-protein interactions in live cells with nanometer scale localizations. .


Kristopher Marjon
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

My advisor is Dr. Du Clos (M.D., Ph.D.) and my co-advisor is Dr. Thomas (Ph.D.). I am interested in understanding how C-Reactive Protein (CRP), an acute phase serum protein, mediates immune regulation. Very recently, our lab has discovered that CRP functionally interacts with a new receptor, FcalphaRI, which broadens the role for CRP in both the adaptive and innate immune systems. My project is focused on how CRP interacts with Fc receptors (FcgammaR and FcalphaR) on the surface of cells of the immune system. This project will give insight to which receptors CRP interacts with under normal, inflammatory or anti-inflammatory states and ultimately a better understanding of how CRP modulates the immune response.


Shayna McGill
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

I am a Ph.D student in the UNM College of Pharmacy.  My advisor is Dr. Hugh Smyth from UNM College of Pharmacy.  My co-advisor is Dr. Marek Osinski from the Dept of Electrical and Computer Engineering.  The primary focus of my project is in the utilization of magnetic nanoparticles as an aersol drug delivery system for cystic fibrosis..


Nathan Withers
Electrical Engineering

I received a BS in Biology and Computer Science from Trinity University, San Antonio Texas in 1997. I also received a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Houston, Houston, TX in 2005, and am currently working for my master's degree at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 1997 I was hired by Eureka Software Solutions of Austin, TX as a computer programmer where I worked as a consultant and integrator of accounting databases. Currently I am working at the Center for High Technology Materials at UNM in Albuquerque under a DTRA student research assistant grant. I am a member of the International Society for Optical Engineering, and have won an IEEE/LEOS travel grant in 2007 to present a paper at CLEO 2007 in Baltimore.