People


Ester J. Kwon - Principal Investigator

Ester J. Kwon is an assistant professor of Bioengineering at the University of California San Diego. Dr. Kwon earned her B.S. in Bioengineering and B.A. in Molecular & Cell Biology at UC Berkeley. She went on to earn her Ph.D. at the University of Washington in Bioengineering with Suzie H. Pun, where she engineered polymeric nanoparticles that were grafted with peptides to give them biological function for the delivery of therapeutic nucleic acid into the central nervous system. She went on to postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Sangeeta N. Bhatia at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There, she engineered several nanomaterial scaffolds for application to cancer, bacterial infections, and traumatic brain injury. Her lab in the Bioengineering Department at UCSD is interested in engineering nanoscale tools, diagnostics, and treatments for diseases of the central nervous system. In order to fulfil these goals, Dr. Kwon is motivated to create an inclusive research environment through the individualized mentorship of trainees and outreach to young scientists. Dr. Kwon is a recipient of the pre- and post-doctoral NIH Ruth L. Krischstein National Research Service Awards and the NIH Director’s New Innovator award.

Graduate Students

Julia Kudryashev - Ph.D. Student, Bioengineering
B.S. Bioengineering - Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2017
2019 NSF Graduate Research Fellow
Julia Kudryashev is a graduate student pursuing a Bioengineering Ph.D. at UCSD. She is interested in developing diagnostic and research tools for the nervous system, and in improving in vitro tissue models. When she's not in lab, Julia enjoys dabbling in different art mediums and spending time with her cat.
Lauren Waggoner - Ph.D. Student, Nanoengineering
B.S. Nanoengineering - UC San Diego, 2014
Lauren is interested in researching nanotechnology and nanomaterials for localized drug delivery applications and personalized medical treatment.
Rebecca Kandell - Ph.D. Student, Bioengineering
B.S. Biomedical Engineering – California Polytechnic State University, 2018
M.S. Biomedical Engineering – California Polytechnic State University, 2018
2018 Sloan Fellow, Powell Fellow
2019 NIH NHLBI Integrative Bioengineering of Heart Vessels and Blood T32 Fellow
Rebecca is pursuing a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from UCSD. She is interested in leveraging nanomedicine and tissue engineering to treat traumatic brain injury and other neurodegenerative disorders of the central nervous system.
Marianne Madias - Ph.D. Student, Bioengineering
B.S. Biomedical Engineering - University of Arizona, 2019
2019 Sloan Fellow
Marianne Madias is pursuing a Ph.D. in Bioengineering at UCSD. She is interested in using nanomaterials to develop innovative technologies for the treatment and diagnosis of diseases affecting the nervous system.
Katie North - Master's Student, Bioengineering
B.S. Biology - Texas State University, 2018
Katie North is a graduate student pursuing her Masters’ in Bioengineering at UCSD. She is interested in using cutting edge nanomaterials to develop new nanocarriers for the targeted treatment of traumatic brain injury. She has long-term interests in developing new drug delivery techniques for autoimmune diseases.
Jason Wu - Ph.D. Student, Bioengineering
B.S. Bioengineering - University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2020
Jason Wu is pursuing a Ph.D. in Bioengineering at UCSD. He is interested in using nanomaterials for targeted therapeutic delivery to treat neurodegenerative diseases and to modulate the immune response after traumatic brain injury. In his spare time he enjoys Latin dancing and longboard surfing with his friends.

Undergraduate Students

Alan Hurtado - B.S. Student, Bioengineering
Alan Hurtado is a bioengineering undergraduate at UCSD. He wishes to pursue a Ph.D. and work at the interface of bioengineering, nanotechnology and ophthalmology. He has long-term interests in developing new treatments for eye diseases.
Hope Leng - B.S. Student, Bioengineering
Hope is a bioengineering undergraduate at UCSD who hopes to contribute to a deeper understanding of the human brain through neuroengineering techniques. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. and a career in academia after she graduates as part of her aspiration to share scientific research with diverse communities.
Sophia Warlof - B.S. Student, Bioengineering
Sophia Warlof is a bioengineering undergraduate at UCSD. She plans to pursue a graduate degree and further her studies of nanomaterials to treat diseases of the nervous system. She is interested in working to develop technologies for the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injury and diseases of the brain.
Bolarin Lawrence - B.S. Student, Nanoengineering
Bolarin is an undergraduate at UCSD, studying nanoengineering with a focus in bioengineering. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. and hopes to work in a government agency or in academia. His interests lie in drug delivery and personalized medicine, and he is passionate about STEM education outreach to underrepresented communities.
Nicholas O'Shea - B.S. Student, Bioengineering
Nick is a bioengineering undergraduate student at UCSD. Planning on pursuing a graduate degree, he is interested in researching how to improve the treatment of damaged or diseased nervous systems and helping those who have been disabled at a young age.

Alumni

  • Nicholas Mininni - Summer REU 2018. Currently an undergraduate at North Carolina State University.
  • Alexander Yan - Undergraduate researcher 2018-2020. Currently a PhD student at the University of Washington.
  • Joseph Rich - Summer REU 2019. Currently a PhD student at Duke University.
  • Jae Lee - 5-year BS/MS program 2020. Current working at Cue Health Inc.