The Tian Research Group

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See current members

Former graduate students

Lingyuan Meng

Graduate student (2017-2022)

Current position: Associate Technology Development Engineer at the Entegris
Lingyuan Meng was a graduate student at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME). She obtained her B.S. in Chemistry from Jilin University. During her undergraduate, she experienced the design and development of smart material systems for controlled release via mesoporous silica nanoparticles and bioorthogonal chemistry approaches, respectively. In Tian’s Lab, Lingyuan is currently studying biological responses, specifically T cell functioning and signaling and extracellular vesicles (EVs) productions, upon external stimuli. Lingyuan received an Institute of Molecular Engineering Graduate Fellowship, and the PME travel funds. In her spare time, Lingyuan enjoys traveling, snowboarding, and watching sci-fi movies.

Aleksander Prominski

Graduate student (2019-2022)

Current position: Product engineer at the Lam Research
Aleksander Prominski received his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Warsaw, Poland. Aleksander joined a graduate program in Chemistry at the University of Chicago in 2016 and worked on ultrafast bioassays and discrete DNA-based assemblies of anisotropic nanoparticles in Prof. Weizmann’s group. In 2019 Aleksander joined Prof. Tian’s group. His past research in the Tian lab involves the nanoporous semiconductor-based biological modulation systems. Aleksander received the Seymour Goodman Fellowship (2018-2019), Albert J. Cross prize (2018), the Olshansky Graduate Travel award (2021), and the Elizabeth R. Norton Prize for Excellence in Research in Chemistry (2022) at the UChicago. 

Erik Schaumann

Graduate student (2014-2020)

Current position: Postdoc scholar at Northwestern University
Erik Schaumann received a B.S. in Chemistry from Santa Clara University in 2013, where he performed structural studies of peptoids (N-substituted polyglycine oligomers). He began his PhD studies in Chemistry at the University of Chicago in 2014, and began working in the lab of Margaret Gardel. There, he worked in collaboration with theorists to describe distinct modes of traction stress distribution in monolayers of epithelial cells. He was a joint student between the Gardel and Tian Labs, studying the interactions between photoelectric silicon devices and the mechanics of epithelia.

Hector Acaron Ledesma

Graduate student (2013-2020)

Current position: Postdoc scholar at Harvard Medical School
Hector Acaron Ledesma grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He graduated with honors from Cornell University in 2013 with a BS in biological engineering. He worked with Dan Luo as an undergraduate and his researched focused on using branched DNA nanostructures for the development of novel hydrogel materials and reporter molecules for diagnostics. He did his Ph.D. in the biophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, as co-mentored by Professors Wei Wei and Bozhi Tian. Part of Ph.D. research was relevant to the inorganic materials-based neuromodulation. On his free time, he enjoys live music and ethnic food. Hector was a class 2014 NSF graduate student fellow and was also an F31 NIH fellow.

Vishnu Nair

Graduate student (2016-2020)

Current position: Junior Fellow of the Rice Academy
Vishnu grew up in Cochin, Kerala, India. After clearing the IIT-JEE exam in 2011 he joined Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and graduated in 2016 with an Integrated BS/MS in Chemistry with minors in Electrical Engg. and Physics. Towards his Master’s thesis he worked on synthesis and optoelectronic applications of two dimensional nanostructure based hybrids, under the guidance of Prof. Subramaniam. Prior to this he worked under Prof. Aslam where he used fundamental electrochemistry to study electron tunneling in colloidal quaternary semiconductor quantum dots and carbon nano-onions. In the Tian group, he has developed a laser-assisted synthesis of SiC from elastomer and applied the composites in bioelectronics. Vishnu is a recipient of the Elizabeth R Norton prize for excellence in research in Chemistry, The Windt Travel award and a fellow of the International house. In his free time, he enjoys playing the bamboo flute and performs Carnatic Music and Bharatanatyam (a South Indian dance form).

Youjin Lee

Graduate student (2015-2020)

Current position: McKinsey & Company
Youjin grew up in South Korea. She received her B.S. degree in Chemistry from UC Berkeley in 2015. In her undergraduate research she studied the charge transfer rate and radiative recombination rate of core-shell quantum dots in Alivisatos group. In the Tian group, she was studying the fluid dynamics of silicon nanomaterials and new nanowire structure synthesis. Youjin was a Martha and Joseph Chenicek Graduate fellow, and a Windt Travel Award recipient.

Andrew Phillips

Graduate student (2015-2019)

Current position: Boston Consulting Group

Andrew Phillips grew up in Novi, Michigan. He received a BSChem degree in chemistry in 2013 from the University of Michigan, working in the Banaszak Holl lab on targeted drug delivery. In 2014, he received an MSE in Macromolecular Science and Engineering, also from the University of Michigan, working with Professor Jinsang Kim on biosensors. Before entering the University of Chicago in 2015 to pursue a PhD in chemistry, Andrew worked as a research associate in the Kim and Tewari labs at UM on developing low-cost diagnostic platforms for new biomarkers. In the Tian group, Andrew has developed optically-triggered catalytic reactions under physiological condition. Andrew was an NIH Chem-Bio fellow.


Kelliann Koehler

Graduate student (2014-2019)

Current position: Scientist at the Clemson University
Kelliann Koehler began her undergraduate work at the University of Florida in 2009. She transferred to Northeastern University and graduated with a BS in chemistry in 2013. As an undergraduate, she worked at the Center for Drug Discovery with a focus on HPLC method development and small molecule drug synthesis. Before beginning her graduate program at the University of Chicago, Kelliann worked in the polymer research group at E-ink and with lateral flow antibiotic test kits at Charm Sciences. In 2014, Kelliann began her graduate work at the University of Chicago with a focus in inorganic chemistry. Together with Ramya Parameswaran, Kelliann has developed methods for non-genetic optical modulation of cardiac activities. Kelliann was an NIH Chem-bio Interface fellow, and was a Helen Sellei-Beretvas Fellow.

Ramya Parameswaran

Graduate student (2013-2018)

Current position: Residency at UCSF
Ramya Parameswaran grew up in Moraga, CA. She received a BS with Honors in chemical engineering in 2010 and an MS in chemical engineering in 2011, both from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, she studied mouse models of lymphoma in the Felsher Laboratory. Prior to joining the University of Chicago’s Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) in 2012, she worked as a research associate in the Weiss Laboratory at UCSF studying B cell development and anergy. She started her PhD in the biophysical sciences in both the Tian and Adams Laboratories, studying the role that the T cell receptor (TCR) may play as a voltage sensing protein in TCR triggering events. She then turned her focus into optically-triggered biological modulation of neurons and cardiomyocyotes, and made a major discovery of the role of atomic gold in neuromodulation. Ramya was a class 2014 Soros Fellow and was an NIH F30 fellowship awardee.

Yuanwen Jiang

Graduate student (2012-2018)

Current position: Postdoc scholar in the Bao lab, Stanford University
Yuanwen Jiang was a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry, entering the University of Chicago after receiving his B.S. degree in chemistry from Nanjing University, China in 2012. His undergraduate research focused on the synthesis and properties of inorganic nanomaterials. During his Ph.D., he has developed multiple nongenetic methods for optical modulation of biological systems across multiple length scales. Yuanwen was a Seymour Goodman fellow, a Harper Dissertation Fellow (one of the highest honors for graduate students at UChicago), and a Frances E. Knock Scholar. He also received the Elizabeth R. Norton Prize for Excellence in Research in Chemistry, and the Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Abroad. He received a prestigious Graduate Research Award from the American Vacuum Society and a prestigious Graduate Student Award from the Materials Research Society. He was also a 2018 ACS DIC Young Investigator Awardee. In 2019, Yuanwen received an IUPAC-SOLVAY International Award for Young Chemists.
Personal website: Link

John Zimmerman

Graduate student (2012-2016)

Current position: Postdoc scholar in the Parker lab, Harvard University 

Born and raised in Seattle, WA, John Zimmerman graduated from Whitman College in 2011, receiving his bachelor’s in chemistry. During his undergraduate, he investigated purification platforms of the protein PcpA, for use in microbatch x-ray crystallography under Tim Machonkin. He entered the University of Chicago’s PhD program in chemistry, during the fall of 2011, with a focus in inorganic chemistry. While in the Tian lab, John has studied the internalization dynamics of nanowires and developed a few methods for intracellular biophysical probing. John was a class of 2013 CBC scholar. John is currently an Organ Design and Engineering Training Program Fellow at Harvard Medical School.


Victoria Fisher

Master’s student (2013-2014)

Current position: Neurosurgeon, UT Health San Antonio
In 2014 Victoria Fischer completed a Master of Science in the Physical Sciences with a chemistry focus and is now attending George-Town medical school with an Army Health Professions Scholarship. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Pre-Professional studies. As an undergraduate, she conducted research in a physiology laboratory that primarily focused on the effect of oxytocin on human bodily responses and behavior. In the Tian lab, Victoria worked with John Zimmerman on nanowire internalization dynamics.

Former postdoc scholars

Yiliang Lin

Postdoc scholar (2018-2022)

Current position: Assistant professor, Chemical Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Yiliang Lin obtained his B.S. in Polymer Science and Engineering from Zhejiang University in 2013 and received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at NC State University in 2018, under the guidance of Professors Michael Dickey and Jan Genzer. During his Ph.D., Yiliang’s research interests include synthesis, modification, and patterning of liquid metal nanoparticles for soft electronics and biomedical applications. In 2018, Yiliang joined Tian’s group and started his postdoctoral research in the James Franck Institute, University of Chicago. His research focuses on using living or soil-inspired materials to study diverse biointerfaces for healing and environmental remediation. Yiliang has received many accolades, including the NSF Research Triangle MRSEC Fellowship, Vivian T. Stannett Fellowship, Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Ph.D. students, and the Kharasch Postdoctoral Travel Award.

Yin Fang

Postdoc scholar (2017-2020)

Current position: Assistant professor, Bioengineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Yin Fang received his PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Florida in 2016. His PhD research focused on the self-assembled photonic crystals, shape memory polymers, smart windows and the plasmonic sensing in photonic structures. He accolades during his PhD include MRS graduate student award (2015), Chinese government award for outstanding self-financed PhD students (2016). In 2017, he joined Tian’s group and started his postdoctoral research in the James Franck Institute, University of Chicago. His postdoc research focused on tissue-like materials for bioelectronics and robotics. Yin received a Kharasch Postdoctoral Travel Award from UChicago.

Menahem Rotenberg

Postdoc scholar (2016-2020)

Current position: Assistant professor, Bioengineering, Technion, Israel
Hemi Rotenberg received his BSc, MSc and PhD in Biotechnology Engineering from Ben Gurion University, Israel. During his MSc, he designed a perfusion bioreactor that allowed simultaneous shear stress optimization on 3D cellular constructs. In his PhD, he worked on a new modality for noninvasive temporary heart pacing using magnetic microparticles. In 2016, he joined the Tian Lab as a postdoc at the James Franck Institute, at the University of Chicago. He worked on in vivo cardiac stimulation using silicon nanowires and silicon-based membranes. He enjoys riding his bicycles and playing soccer.

Xiang Gao

Postdoc scholar (2016-2018)

Current position: Associate professor, Shenzhen Institutes of Synthetic Biology, Shenzhen, China
Xiang Gao obtained his B.S. in Biology from the Hubei University of Technology. He received his PhD in Microbiology from the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences. During his PhD program, he focused on microbial engineering for the production of biochemicals, especially terpenoids. He engineered and optimized the isoprene biosynthetic pathway both in cyanobacteria and E.coli. In 2016, he joined Professor Tian’s group and started his postdoctoral research at the James Franck Institute, University of Chicago. He has developed several methods to interface semiconductors and inorganic ions with microbial systems.

Yingying Lv

Postdoc scholar (2018-2019)

Current position: Professor, Shanghai University, Shanghai, China
Yingying Lv graduated with honors from Fuzhou University with a B.S. degree in chemistry, and Fudan University with a PhD degree in inorganic chemistry, respectively. In 2018, Yingying joined Tian lab and started her postdoctoral research in the James Franck Institute, University of Chicago. Her research focuses on the soft materials-enabled synthesis of semiconductors and their applications in as bioelectronic materials.

Yin Fang

Postdoc scholar (2015-2019)

Current position: Professor, Shanghai East Hospital, Shanghai, China
Yin Fang obtained his B.S. and Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Fudan University. During his PhD, he studied the synthesis of inorganic nanomaterials and explored their bio-engineering related applications (biosensing, controlled drug release and photothermal cancer cell therapy). In 2015, he joined Tian’s group and started his postdoctoral research in the James Franck Institute, University of Chicago. His research interest includes the synthesis of novel silicon or carbon-based nanostructures and their exploration in biointerfaces. 

Fei Pei

Postdoc scholar (2019)

Current position: Dutch and European Patent Attorney at ASML, Netherlands

Fei Pei received his BSc and MSc in applied physics from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He received his PhD in experimental quantum physics from the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. During his PhD, he worked on the quantum dot and qubit experiments in carbon nanotubes and quantum transport measurement in InSb nanowires. In 2019, he joined the Tian lab as a postdoc at the James Franck Institute, at the University of Chicago. He worked on semiconductor materials to study biointerfaces.


Jaeseok Yi

Postdoc scholar (2015-2018)

Current position: Scientist, Samsung, South Korea

Jaeseok Yi received his B.S. and PhD in materials science and engineering from Hanyang University. During his PhD, he studied the fundamental behavior of 1D and 2D semiconductor nanomaterials (nanowire, nanorod, graphene) and their applications in high-performance electronic devices including TFTs, LEDs, chemical sensors, photovoltaics. In 2015, he joined Tian’s group and started his postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago. His research interest includes the synthesis and properties of nanostructures and novel applications for bio-nano hybrid electronics. He also showed a demonstration of applying mineralization in flexible electronics and underwater adhesion.


Raymond C. S. Wong

Postdoc scholar (2014-2016)

Current position: Engineer, Computime
Ray was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to Canada. He received the B.Eng. degree in electrical engineering from McMaster University, Canada, and M.Sc.Eng. degree from the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, the University of New Brunswick, Canada. He obtained his PhD degree from the Australian National University, Australia, studied the retinal ganglion cell physiology and worked on the development of epiretinal prosthesis. He joined the Tian lab to explore the application of nanotechnology in neuroscience. Together with Yuanwen Jiang, he has developed a set of methods for non-genetic neuromodulation. He enjoys reading, martial arts and music.

Yucai Wang

Postdoc scholar (2013-2015)

Current position: Professor, School of Life Sciences, University of Science and Technology of China, China

Dr. Wang was born in Fujian, China. He received the B.S. (2005) and PhD (2010) degrees in chemistry from the University of Science and Technology of China. His PhD research in Prof. Jun Wang’s group was focused on the controlled syntheses of polyphosphoesters and their bioapplications. He then worked with Professor Younan Xia as a postdoctoral scholar in the theranostic applications of gold nanocages. He joined the Tian group in January 2013, where he worked on calcite based nanoelectronic devices. He has also worked with Yuanwen Jiang and a few other former lab members on silicon-based biointerfaces. 


Zhiqiang Luo

Postdoc Scholar (2012-2016)

Current position: Professor, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China
Dr. Luo obtained his B.S. and M.S. in materials science and engineering from Northeastern University and Zhejiang University, respectively, in China. He received his PhD in physics from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, studying the synthesis and spectroscopy characterization of low dimensional carbon materials, including graphene and single-walled carbon nanotubes. After one year’s postdoctoral research on device physics of organic electronics in the James Franck Institute, the University of Chicago, he joined Tian’s group working on the synthesis of novel semiconductor materials and nanoelectronic exploration of cellular systems.

Former visiting scholars

Boya Kuang

Visiting student (2019-2020)

Current position: Postdoc Scholar, Peking University, China
Boya Kuang performed physical property studies of graphene and other carbon-based materials during her Ph.D. She is currently pursuing her postdoc research at Peking University. In 2019, she joined Prof. Tian group as a visiting student for one year at the James Franck Institute, University of Chicago. Her research mainly focused on hydrogel-based adaptable materials in flexible electronics and the transition metal oxide-based neuromodulation devices.

Kun Hou

Visiting professor (2019-2020)

Current position: Professor, Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

Kun Hou obtained his Ph.D. degree in Inorganic Chemistry from Peking University in 2006. He then did two postdocs working on mesoporous materials with Prof. Geoff A Ozin at the University of Toronto (2006-2008) and with Prof. Thomas Bein at the University of Munich (2009-2011). After that, he spent a few years in Ecolab company as a research scientist. In 2017, he moved to Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure and Matter where he currently is a research professor. From 2019 to 2020, he was in Prof. Tian’s group at the University of Chicago as a visiting scholar, working on soft-hard interface nanocomposite materials for environmental and biological applications. His current research interests including mesoporous materials, soft-hard interface composite materials and non-precious metal electrocatalysts for fuel cells. As a scientist with both academic and industrial experiences, besides his academic research, he is also enthusiastic about implementing his research achievements to benefit people’s life, so he recently founded a start-up company trying to commercialize the catalysts developed in his lab for water treatment and fuel cells. In his spare time, Kun likes reading and playing table tennis.


Won Il Park

Visiting professor (2013-2015)

Current position: Professor, Hanyang University, South Korea
Won Il Park received his B.S. degree (2000) from Materials Science and Engineering at Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, and his Ph.D. degree in Materials Science and Engineering from POSTECH in 2005. He then spent 2 years as a postdoctoral fellow in Prof. Charles M. Lieber’s group at Harvard University. He started as an assistant professor of Materials Science and Engineering in March 2007 at Hanyang University Seoul, Korea. Currently he is an associate professor at the same university and leading ‘Nano Electronic and Photonic Laboratory’. As a visiting researcher in the Tian lab, he aims to explore the materials science interface between biological and physical systems, with a focus on the synthetic cellular interactions with nanoelectronics and the development of biomimetic nanoscale materials and devices. 

Michal Cifra

Visiting professor (2014-2015)

Current position: Professor, Institute of Photonics and Electronics, Czech Academy of Sciences
Dr. Cifra obtained his MSc. degree (2006) from Biomedical Engineering at the University of Zilina, Slovakia, and his Ph.D. degree (2009) from Radioelectronics, Czech Technical University in Prague. His postdoc project at the Institute of Photonics and Electronics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech republic, was focused on the research of cellular electrodynamics on the nanoscale. Currently he is a head of a newly established Bioelectrodynamics research team at the same institute. Michal is passionate about the research of biological endogenous electrodynamic and electronic phenomena and his current main interests are in microtubules, ultraweak photon emission and nanosensors. Dr. Cifra worked as a visiting researcher in Tian’s lab from August 2014-2015, where he explored the interaction of tubulin and microtubules with functionalized synthetic silicon nanostructures as potential probes of subcellular electrodynamics.

Former undergraduate students

Kavita Parekh

Kavita Parekh

Undergraduate student

Kavita is an undergraduate student majoring in biochemistry. She grew up in San Francisco, California, and enjoys spending her free time playing frisbee, biking along Lakeshore Drive, hiking, and reading. 

Clementene Clayton

Clementene Clayton

Undergraduate student

Clementene Clayton is an undergraduate student majoring in Chemistry and Molecular Engineering. She grew up moving often and lived in Palo Alto, Seoul, Boston, and Sydney. Outside of lab work and classes, she enjoys scuba diving, photography, and reading.

Bernadette Miao

Bernadette Miao

Undergraduate student

Bernadette Miao is an undergraduate student majoring in Chemistry. She hopes to pursue a PhD in Chemistry and a career involving teaching and research. Outside of lab and class, she enjoys baking, gardening, and running.

Matthew Seebald

Matthew Seebald

Undergraduate student

Matthew Seebald was an undergraduate student majoring in Chemistry from Washington, D.C. Working under the guidance of Aleks Prominski, he studied the ablation of ceramic-PDMS composites and the training of cardiomyocytes. In his free time, Matthew enjoys playing guitar, painting, backpacking, and fly fishing.

Annual Tian group party

The Pottery party

The departmental holiday party

The painting party

The farewell party for Yuanwen

The meeting at the White House

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