Current members

Graduate students

Preeti Ashok, B.S., M.S.

Preeti’s interest in the bioengineering field began during her MS working on drug-delivery to the eye using PLGA nanoparticles embedded in a collagen membrane. Her current research project involves the study of exosomes secreted during the cardiac differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells at various stages. Preeti also works on optimizing a xeno-free, chemically-defined medium that supports the differentiation process of cells in static and stirred-suspension cultures. In her free time, she likes to read and hike.

Zijing (Sylvia) Chen, B.S., M.S.

Sylvia graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and M.S. in Supply Chain Management. She has previously interned at Bristol-Myers Squibb, IBM, GlobalFoundries, and Novozymes. At Tufts, she is exploring the regenerating protein (Reg) family’s function and signaling pathway and as well as regulation of Reg genes.  In addition, Sylvia is actively engaged in the Tufts graduate student communities at Tufts, including Graduate Student Council and Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering Society (BEaChES). In her spare time, Sylvia enjoys cooking and trying out new restaurants.

Elena Jacobson, B.S.

Elena did her undergraduate in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, where she worked on glycoproteomics and anti-apoptotic cell culture. She also did a co-op at Genzyme in the bioengineering department and an internship at Novartis in Oncology. Her current research focuses on the scaled-up expansion of human pluripotent stem cells and pancreatic differentiation.

Demetrios Stoukides, B.S.

Demetri received his Chemical Engineering Diploma from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece. The immense potential of stem cell engineering to provide novel therapeutic approaches to diseases urged him to join the Tzanakakis Lab. Demetri is in his first year in the PhD program and his research project will unfold as he learns the necessary tools both in class and in the lab. He hopes to provide yet another engineering perspective in the field of regenerative medicine.

Undergraduate Students

Frank Shlafer

Frank is a rising senior, pursuing a BS in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Biotechnology. His current research is focused on improving viability and prolonging survival of gel-encapsulated insulin-producing cells, primarily by promoting oxygenation through the improved design of hydrogel scaffolds. Outside the lab, he is the new president of the Tufts branch of AICHE and runs with the Tufts Marathon Team.

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