The University of New Mexico

An NSF Integrative Graduate

Education and Research Traineeship in

Integrating Nanotechnology with Cell Biology and Neuroscience






Brian Akins
Electrical & Computer Engineering

In 2009 I received my Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering with emphasis in microelectronics from the University of New Mexico (UNM). I am currently a graduate student working on my Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering with concentration in Microsystems at UNM. I am currently being advised by professor Marek Osinski on my research in colloidal nanocrystals. I am specifically researching colloidal nanocrystals for the application of nanophosphors in solid state lighting. This research will enable better lighting systems from the point of view of energy efficiency and human health by custom tailoring the light spectrum using blue LEDs and nanophosphors to create daylight quality lighting.

Leisha Armijo
Electrical & Computer Engineering

I am a qualified MEMS & nanosystems engineer and holds a Master of Science degree from the University of New Mexico. I am presently employed at the University of New Mexico's Center for High Technology Materials while completing my dissertation. In this role, I work with a team responsible for all aspects of novel micro- and nano-systems production, including microfluidic and colloidal synthesis, targeted drug delivery, and biological applications of nanomaterials. A big believer in providing low-cost diagnostics and therapy, and ending healthcare disparities, I am the president of the local chapter of the Global Public Health Brigades organization which provides general public health education for specific populations in the United States and developing countries. I am also a veteran of the United States armed forces where I served as an electrical & communications systems superintendent in the Army Corps of Engineers.

Stephen Clark
Electrical & Computer Engineering

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.


Meghan McCabe
Nanoscience & Microsystems

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.

Antonio Rivera

Nanoscience & Microsystems

Antonio is a 38 year old father of 4 with a Bachelors degree in Physics - Optics and a Masters degree in Nanoscience and Microsystems - Complex Functional Materials. Antonio has been working with nanocrystals within Dr. Osinski's lab at UNM for 6 years and is currently involved with the use of nanocrystals as a way to enhance detection abilities of radiation detectors. His current projects include dysprosium fluoride NCs to detect neutron fluxes and provide forensice evidence of neutron producing events. Also gadolinium oxides as a way to enhance PVT detectors to be more sensitive to neutrons and possibly produce small hand held neutron spectrometers. His IGERT project deals with working with nanocrystals attached to MMPs to create an MMP spectrometer that can be used not only as a biodosimeter but also a way to diagnose disease and injury in patients.

Melissa Wilson


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.