Members

DIRECTOR

Prof. R. Gross

Research in the laboratory of Dr. Gross encompasses a wide variety of projects directed toward development of new enzyme and chemo-enzymatic strategies and methods for the synthesis of polymers for a wide variety of applications. Chemists, biochemists, microbiologists, materials scientists, engineers, physicists and clinicians work in teams on projects ranging from enzymatic and chemo-enzymatic routes to monomers, macromers, polymers and bioactive molecules. Novel enzyme engineering techniques and methods for enzyme immobilization are used to develop efficient catalysts that function under practical conditions. From thesestudies our group is developing fundamental new knowledge in enzyme structure-activity relationships for polymer synthesis and degradation reactions as well as an understanding of critical design elements that stabilize and activate enzymes on surfaces and within macroporous resins





RESEARCH ASSISTANT PROFESSOR

Filbert Totsingan, PhD

Dr. Totsingan received his Master degree in Industrial Chemistry cum laude (2004) and his PhD in Organic Chemistry (2008) from the University of Parma (Italy) focusing on designing new probes (peptide nucleic acids, PNAs) for nucleic acid recognition. After spending a year (2008-2009) at NYU-Poly as postdoc working with Prof. Mark Green on amplification of chirality in PNAs, he moved to NYU-Chemistry where he spent 5 years on designing new antimicrobial peptides against multidrug-resistant bacteria. He joined Prof. Gross group at RPI in March 2014.
Location: Cogswell 209C





POST-DOCTORAL FELLOWS

Mohammad H. A. Ibrahim, Ph.D.

Dr. Ibrahim received his M.Sc. in Microbiology from Cairo University and National Research Centre (Egypt, 2004). He graduated at the Institute of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology, University of Münster (Ph.D. in Biology, Germany, 2009). Since 2010, he did post-doctoral research at Lund University (Sweden, 2010-2013, 2015) and University of Hawaii (USA, 2013-2014). His research focused on Bioplastics fermentative production by extremophiles, downstream processing and physiology; and protease enzymes characterization and application. He joined Prof. Gross group at RPI in May 2015.
Location: Biotech 4117





Katharina Neufeld, Ph.D.

Dr. Katharina Neufeld studied biochemistry at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (Germany) and was accepted for the fast track Ph.D. program upon obtaining the bachelor’s degree. She performed her graduate studies at the Institute for Bioorganic Chemistry located in the Research Center Jülich and the Institute for Biotechnology of the RWTH Aachen and received her Ph.D. in chemistry with “summa cum laude” under Prof. Dr. Jӧrg Pietruszka. Her research focused on the development and application of biocatalyst for organic syntheses. She joined the Gross Lab at RPI as a post-doctoral researcher in March 2015.
Location: Biotech 4117/Cogswell 223





Dr. Shekar Mekala

Dr. Shekar Mekala, hails from Hyderabad, India and graduated with a Ph.D in Chemistry (in Aug-2012) from the University of Oklahoma (Norman, Oklahoma-USA), under the guidance of Prof.Ronald Halterman, working in the area of Organic Synthesis and Supramolecular Chemistry/Catalysis. Then he moved to Syracuse University (Syracuse, New York) to pursue his Postdoctoral Research with Prof. Roger Hahn, in the area of Asymmetric Synthesis (scalable synthesis of highly enantiopure chiral building blocks) for more than 2 years. In Sep-2015, he joined the laboratory of Prof.Richard Gross, here at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies) as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the area of bioorganic/biopolymer chemistry for biomaterial applications. Dr.Mekala holds BS and MS degrees in Chemistry from Osmania University, Hyderabad, India.
Location: Cogswell 2301





DOCTORAL STUDENTS

Amanda Koh

Amanda Koh joined the group as a doctoral student from the Chemical-Biological Engineering department in 2012. She received her S.B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Chemical Engineering in 2011. She is currently working on characterizing the effect of modified sophorolipid structure on interfacial interactions.
Location: Biotech 4141






Abhijit Shirke

Abhijit joined the group in 2011 as a doctoral student in Materials Chemistry. He received his B.S. in Pharmaceutical sciences from Nagpur University (India) and M. Tech form Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) Mumbai (India) in Bioprocess technology. His research focusses on biocatalyst development. He is currently working on thermostabilization, activity improvement and understanding the structure and activity relationships of the Cutinases for their industrial applications in polymer recycling and polymer surface modification. His specialties include, Fermentation technology, Protein purification and protein structural and biochemical characterization.
Location: Biotech 4141





Anthony Maiorana

Anthony "Tony" Maiorana joined the group in 2013 as a doctoral student. Tony received his bachelor's of science in chemistry from The University of Maryland, College Park. He has previously worked at the Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute and a bio-medical device company Senseonics. His work currently involves synthesis and characterization of biobased polymers. He is also working on modification and isolation of cellulose nanocrystals through a green approach for improved dispersion in nanocomposites.
Location: Cogswell 223






Fan Yang

Fan Yang joined the group as a doctoral student in spring 2013. She received a bachelor’s degree in Polymer Science and Engineering at Beijing Institute of Technology in 2006 and a Master's degree in Chemistry at Rochester Institute of Technology in 2012. Her current research focuses on Protease-catalyzed Oligopeptide Synthesis.
Location: Cogswell 223






Fei Liu

Fei Liu joined the group in 2013 as a doctoral student in Chemistry. She received a Master's degree in Biotechnology at New York University. Her current work involves bio synthesis and antimicrobial studies.
Location: Biotech 4143






An Su

An Su joined the group in 2013. He is working on the immobilization of cutinases and their application as biocatalysts in organic reactions. He also participates in other projects including comparative thermostability study of different cutinases and surface modification of polymers using ion-paired cutinases.
Location: Biotech 4143






Robert Centore

Robert joined the group in February 2014 as an accelerated BS/PhD student. Now in the graduate portion of the program, Robert received his BS in chemistry from RPI. He is currently working on using enzymes such as proteases to modify synthetic polymers, and the use of enzymes to synthesize novel polymers not easily obtained by traditional synthetic techniques.
Location: Cogswell 223






VISITING SCHOLARS

Shuhong Mao

Shuhong Mao joined in this group as a visiting scholar in Sep. 2015. She received her Ph. D from the Institute of Modern Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2006, and then she worked in the College of biotechnology, Tianjin University of Science and Technology. Her research focused on biocatalysis and biotransformation. Now she is working on the bio-production of poly glutamic acid.
Location: Biotech 4143






Pedro Jiménez

Pedro Jiménez joined the Gross group as a visiting scholar in April 2016 as a doctoral student from the Chemical, Biological and Environmental Department of the Autonomous of Barcelona University (Spain). He received his B.S. in Chemistry from Alcalá University (Spain), followed by a Master's in Agricultural Chemistry in Autonomous of Madrid University (Spain). His research is focused on the valorization of agro-industrial wastes for the obtantion of sophorolipids through solid-state fermentation.
Location: Biotech 4141






UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

Cassie Megna

Cassie is a junior Biomedical Engineering major at RPI. She joined Gross's Lab in September of 2014 and works with Amanda Koh doing analysis of emulsions. Outside the lab, Cassie is apart of Society of Women Engineers, Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women and Engineering Ambassadors. Fun Fact: She is a triplet.
Location: Biotech 4448






Katie Todd

Katie is a member of the Class of 2017. She joined the team working with Amanda Koh in January of 2015. Katie is a Biology major who is currently the New Member Coordinator of Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women.
Location: Biotech 4448






Christine Desplat

Christine is a junior Chemical Engineering major. She joined the lab in March of 2015 and is currently working with Amanda Koh doing emulsions of crude oil with varying weight percent surfactants. Outside of the lab Christine is a member of Habitat for Humanity, Alpha Gamma Delta Women’s Fraternity, and the Women's club Volleyball Team.
Location: Biotech 4448






Anna Wong

Anna is a member of the class of 2017 majoring in Chemical Engineering. She joined the lab in Summer 2015 and is working with Amanda on a sophorolipid encapsulation project. Outside of the lab, she is a Senior Math Mentor and a Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers Mentor.
Location: Biotech 4448






Ezekiel Sherbourne

Ezekiel is part of the class of 2018, majoring in Chemistry. Ezekiel started working with Amanda Koh on modifying Sophorolipids in September of 2015. Outside of school he is a member of the Chi Phi fraternity and goes hiking as often as he can.
Location: Biotech 4448






Melissa Feinberg

Melissa is a Class of 2017 Chemical Engineering student who joined the lab in August of 2014. She currently works with Amanda on quantifying the change in hydrophobicity of sophorolipid derivative micelles and performs fluorescence spectroscopy to estimate polarity. Outside of the lab, Melissa is the vice-president membership development of Alpha Gamma Delta and a member of the Rensselaer Equestrian Team.
Location: Biotech 4448






Karl Meier

Karl is a Class of 2017 student studying biomedical engineering focusing on biomaterials. He is currently working with Dr. Katharina Neufeld on enzymatic peptide synthesis and modification for application in biomaterials. Outside of the lab, Karl works as a nurse’s assistant at the local hospital, is a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, Global Medical Brigades, Habitat for Humanity, and the club lacrosse team.
Location: Biotech 4448






Alexis Quinteros

Alexis is a Class of 2017 Biomedical engineer at RPI. She joined Amanda Koh in Fall 2015, analyzing interfacial tension of crude oil in biosurfactant solutions. Outside of the lab, Alexis is the Vice President of Fraternity Development of the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for women. She also volunteers as much as possible when she is not attending RPI as a full time student.
Location: Biotech 4448






Jacqueline Curtsinger

Jacqueline is a Class of 2017 Chemical Engineering major at RPI. She joined the lab in September 2015 and is working with Amanda to study the effect of salt solutions on interfacial tensions. Outside of the lab, she is the Activities Coordinator of Alpha Gamma Delta Women’s Fraternity, a member of Habitat for Humanity, and played on the RPI varsity tennis team for 2 years.
Location: Biotech 4448






Joshua Baik

Joshua Baik is an undergraduate student pursuing a B.S in Biomedical Engineering. His research focuses on cutinases, including the immobilization of the enzyme, testing its thermostability, and characterizing its activity on different substrates.
Location: Biotech 4448






Fangchen Liu

Fangchen is a member of Class of 2018. She is a Materials Engineering major transferred from Harbin Institute of Technology in China. She is working with Katharina Neufeld since November 2015 on peptide modifications aiming at accessing novel bio-based materials.
Location: Biotech 4448






Gayathri Subramaniam

Bhagyashree (Gayathri) Subramaniam is a Biochemistry/Biophysics major in the class of 2019. She started working with Tony Maiorana in the summer of 2014 on epoxy resins. She is working with Dr. Katharina Neufeld since November 2015 on establishing enzymatic transformations to obtain novel polymer materials. Outside of research she is part of the Tae kwon do team and the Indian Student Association.
Location: Biotech 4448






Steven Collins

Steven is a Class of 2017 Chemical Engineering major at RPI. He joined the lab in November 2015 and is working with Katharina on the chemical modification of bio-based scaffolds and performing NMR analysis of newly formed compounds. Outside of the lab, Steven is a member of the RPI Varsity Men's Soccer Team, a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society, and a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.
Location: Biotech 4448






Alyssa Mason

Alyssa is a junior Chemical Engineering major. She joined the lab in January of 2016 and is currently working with Dr. Katharina Neufeld on establishing chemo-enzymatic routed to novel peptide functionalities.
Location: Biotech 4448






Abigail Dooley

Abigail is a Class of 2017 Biochemistry/Biophysics major. She joined Katharina in January 2016 to work on a protein engineering project. Outside of the lab she is Director of Academics for her sorority, Alpha Phi, a member of Global Medical Brigades, and on the RPI Women’s Club Soccer Team.
Location: Biotech 4448






Victoria Phan

Victoria is a Class of 2018 Chemical Engineering major. She has been working with Katharina since November 2015 on biocatalysis and enzyme assays. Outside of the lab, she is the Vice President of Finance for Alpha Gamma Delta Women's Fraternity, the Greek Senator for the Panhellenic Council and Student Senate, and Treasurer of RPI women's Golf Club.
Location: Biotech 4448