The University of New Mexico

An NSF Integrative Graduate

Education and Research Traineeship in

Integrating Nanotechnology with Cell Biology and Neuroscience







Brittany Branch
Nanoscience & Microsystems

My advisor is Dr. Dimiter Petsev from Chemical Engineering and my co-advisor is Dr. LeAnna Cunningham from Neurosciences. Our group has designed and fabricated a microfluidic device that implements electric fields for a novel method of analyte focusing. We will use this device to preconcentrate stem cells and eventually separate mitochondria from unwanted cell debris.


Shayna Brocato
Chemical and Nuclear Engineering

In 2008 I received my Bachelors degree in Biochemistry from the University of New Mexico. I am currently a graduate student in the Chemical and Nuclear Engineering department persuing a Ph.D. My advisors are Plamen Atanassov (Chemical and Nuclear Engineering) and Margaret Werner-Washburne (Biology). I am currently researching the interactions between single-wall carbon nanotubes, DNA, and enzymes for enzymatic biofuel cell or sensor applications. This research will enable enzymes to be sequentially attached through self assembly along the length of each carbon nanotube. Using biomimetics, the sequenced enzymes will lead to increased fuel cell or sensor efficiency.


Carl W. Brown III
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

My lab is in the Center for Biomedical Engineering in the new Centennial Engineering Center, under the direction of Dr. Steven Graves. My co-mentor is Dr. Larry Sklar, director of the New Mexico Center for Molecular Discovery. My research is directed towards developing physiologically relevant assays of viral protease activity. My project is specifically geared for Dengue virus, and the assays will be used for drug screening and for exploring the polyprotein nanostructure. I will also be carrying on our lab's previous work on Botulinum neurotoxin light chain protease work.


Patrick Cutler
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

I am a PhD student in the Biomedical Sciences program. I am currently working on a project with my advisor Diane Lidke in cell pathology and my co-advisor Keith Lidke in physics and astronomy. The biological system that I am interested in involves immunoglobulin E (IgE) and its high affinity receptor (FceRI), which play a major role in allergies. We are interested in the fundamental processes involved in signal initiation and membrane receptor dynamics. We use single particle tracking (SPT) of quantum dots conjugated to IgE and other related techniques to investigate this system. We are also currently developing a line-scanning hyperspectral microscope to further expand our SPT abilities.


Antoine Ho
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

I graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a B.S. in Genetics. After that, I entered the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at UNM. I applied to the IGERT fellowship after getting a year of research under my belt in the Edwards' Lab. My Advisor is Dr. Jeremy Edwards and my Co-Advisor is Dr. Susan Atlas. I also enjoy long walks in the lab and pipetting by candlelight. I am interested in sequencing technology, specifically advancing Polony Sequencing. My project has been to utilize a novel biochemistry to optimize a protocol of Sequencing By Ligation that incorporates enzymatic digestions to extend read lengths. I am also interested in anything that might advance sequencing technology, including nanolithography or DNA rolonies to increase DNA array density.


Zoe Hunter
Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program


Andy Maloney
Physics & Astronomy

I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BS in physics. I received my masters degree in physics from UNM. I am now working with Dr. Steve Koch on my PhD looking at the molecular motor kinesin and microtubules. I have backgrounds in chemistry, optics, and physics and is also working with Dr. Koch on optical tweezers for use in single molecule biophysics, specifically for unzipping DNA.


Amber McBride
Nanoscience & Microsystems

A Kansas native - I received my BS in Biology from Kansas State University in 2007, and a BA in Political Science from The University of Kansas (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!) in 2004 - I am ecstatic to be a first year PhD student in the Nanoscience and Microsystems department at UNM. At K-State, my research involved using human umbilical cord stem cells as a delivery vehicle to carry PLGA-PEG nanoparticles engineered with a therapeutic anti-cancer drug. After moving to Albuquerque, I worked in industry optimizing a lung cancer detection assay, and as a research technician for UNM's Human Tissue Repository. Currently, I'm researching magnetic nanoparticles in biological systems in the Osinski Laboratory. When not studying, I enjoy living in the mountains and riding my horses..


Laura Pawlikowski
Chemical & Nuclear Engineering

My research involves developing a cell-based microfluidic sensor. This is done through plasma polymerization of a polymer. When the polymer is coated onto a glass surface and sealed with a microfluidic device cells are grown within the channels. When the cells die, they detach, leaving behind the live cells. This cell culture is analyzed to detect the toxicity of the sample. My advisor is Dr. Heather Canavan and my co-advisor is Dr. Maggie Warner-Washburne.


Jennifer Pelowitz
Nanosciences & Microsystems

After earning B.S. degrees in Biology and Chemistry, I am now a Ph.D. student in UNM’s Nanoscience and Microsystems program focusing on Nano-Bio interfaces. My advisor is Dr. Jeff Brinker from the Department of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering at UNM and Sandia National Laboratories. My research involves exploring the state of cells integrated in silica matrices and determining how we can manipulate those cells. This work could lead to novel approaches in interrogating cellular processes, biosensors and even vaccines.