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Who we are:

We are scientists and engineers. We are real people with real experience in real research. And we are brought together every year with a common passion for STEM and a common goal of bringing out the best for the high school students we mentor. 

Leadership

Leadership & Administration

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David Linnevers

Director of Operations

Over two decades of experience in working in higher education administration and admissions at institutions such as UCLA Medical School. 

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Edward Njoo, PhD

Director of Research & Development

Dr. Njoo received his PhD in organic chemistry from Stanford University, MA from Biola University, and BSc from Loyola Marymount. Edward has published mulitple peer-reviewed papers in natural product synthesis, fluorine NMR, and chemical biology. 

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Ankur Gupta

Director of Educational Outreach

Graduate of U.C. Berkeley, current M.D. candidate at Louisville. Experienced molecular and cell biologist passionate about translational science and biomedical education.

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Phil Mui

Board Member

Phil Mui, Ph.D., is Senior Vice President of Technology in Salesforce, and of the Office of the CTO.  He received his S.B., M.Eng., and Ph.D. from MIT, and an M.Phil as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford.

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Jimmy Qian

Director of Admissions

Current M.D. candidate at Stanford Medical School, several years of research experience in theoretical systems biology. Holds an M.S. in Chemistry, B.A. in Biophysics from the University of Pennsylvania. 

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Larry McMahan, PhD

Chair of CS & Engineering

Dr. McMahan holds an M.S. and Ph.D. from Rice, and has four decades of experience in industry (Hewlett-Packard) and in academia as a professor. 

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Avery Kruger

Director of Communications

Ecologist and marine wildlife scientist with extensive research experience in ecology, evolution, and marine biology. Avery has previously been editor in chief of our student journal.

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John Wang, PhD

Chair, Biological & Life Sciences

Dr. John Wang received his PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from Indiana University, and following that was a postdoctoral reserach fellow at Stanford Medical School in Oncology. Following this, Dr. Wang has been a leader in modern cancer immunotherapy, and has served as the chief scientific officer of a leading biotech company. Dr. Wang and his colleagues have previously placed multiple candidates, including most recently an interleukin-15 construct, into human clinical trials with the FDA. 

OCF Board of Directors

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Joni Jen

Board President

Educator and founder of Olive Children Foundation with over a decade of experience in education and in community service in the Fremont and greater East Bay Area.

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Sara Mithra

Board Member

Sara completed her undergraduate studies at UC Santa Cruz and a Master's degree at UC Berkeley in literature and creative writing.

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Tammy Long

Board Member

Tammy holds a Master's of Education from CSU East Bay and a Master's in Christian Formation from North Park Seminary. 

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Edward Njoo, PhD

Board Member

Dr. Njoo received his PhD in organic chemistry from Stanford University, MA from Biola University, and BSc from Loyola Marymount. Edward has published mulitple peer-reviewed papers in natural product synthesis, fluorine NMR, and chemical biology. 

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Research Investigators

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Connor Adams

Ocean Science

Connor is a graduate of U.C. Santa Cruz with an M.S. in ocean science and a B.S. in environmental science. His research experience includes fisheries management of Belize’s spiny lobster (Panulirus argus), and aggression/fecundity in mangrove rivulus fish (Kryptolebias marmoratus). 

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Michael Amadi

Biotechnology & Synthetic Biology

Former UCSF scientist and founder of Jikoro Sciences, Michael is a scientist who is interested in the interface of biotechnology and synthetic biology. The Amadi lab at ASDRP works on projects related to genomics, metabolomics, and biotechnology/bioengineering. Michael, a serial entrepreneur, is interested in the interface of biomaterials, tech, and synthetic biology. The Amadi lab at ASDRP works on protein engineering, drug discovery, biotechnology, material engineering, and artificial intelligence projects.

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Harman Brah

Computational & Structural Biophysics

Experienced biochemist at UCSD Medicine; former scientist at UCSF who specializes in computational biochemistry & drug discovery. Oversees admissions process.

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Raymond Chen

Analytical Chemistry

Raymond is a former scientist at Thermo Scientific and at Twist Biosciences. The Chen lab at ASDRP uses high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) to determine stability of pharmaceutical entities.

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Chris DeGrendele

Applied Mathematics & Advanced Supercomputing/ Computational Aerosciences

Chris DeGrendele is a computation scientist who is working on his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics at the University of California Santa Cruz. He is currently a researcher at NASA Ames Research Center in the Advanced Supercomputing Division - Computational Aerosciences Branch.

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Robert Downing

Emeritus Chair, Department of Computer Science & Engineering
Data Science, Machine Learning, Applied Engineering, & Astrophysics

Four decades of experience in the high-tech and data systems industry (3COM, IBM, etc.) and as a professor and instructor at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. 

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Sahar Jahanikia

Computational Cognitive Neuroscience, AI & Data science

Experienced computational cognitive neuroscientist proficient in Computational Neuroscience, Neuroimaging, Behavioral Sciences, Neuroinformatics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data Science, Machine Learning (ML), Design Thinking, and Bioinformatics. Brining extensive experience in designing, gathering, and analyzing cutting-edge neuroimaging data studies using various modalities such as fMRI, NIRS, EEG, and simultaneous EEG-fMRI. Additionally, she is expertised in incorporating Large Language Models (LLMs) into cognitive science research.

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Martin Kushnerov

Computational & Structural Biophysics

Martin received his MSc in Medical Genetics and Genomics at University of Glasgow and BS in Human Biology at UC San Diego. His main area of focus is in genetic and epigenetic regulation in biological systems, with previous experience studying viral genetics and genomics. His research group at ASDRP works on the interface of data-based genomics and genetics.

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Dennis Liu

Director of IT; Mathematics & Computer Science

Mr. Dennis Liu is a product of Georgia Tech (MS Computer Science / Human Computer Interaction) and UC San Diego (BS Mathematics - Computer Science; BS Cognitive Science / Human Computer Interaction). Prior to joining us this spring in his new role, Dennis has previously served on ASDRP's admissions team, and will be assuming the role of Director of IT in addition to leading research groups at ASDRP in the fields of computer and cognitive science. Dennis comes to ASDRP with 8 years of IT experience - from UC San Diego Information & Technology Services as a Service Desk Technician, IBM Quantum as both a client facing technical support developer and software engineer, and more recently at VIZIO as a software engineer - prior to rejoining ASDRP.

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Larry McMahan

Quantum Physics

Dr. McMahan holds an M.S. and Ph.D. from Rice, and has four decades of experience in industry (Hewlett-Packard) and in academia as a professor. 

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Valens Nteziyaremye

Principal Scientist; Engineering

Dr. Valens Nteziyaremye was born in Kigali, Rwanda. In 2008 he was selected among the top students in science in Rwanda and received the Rwandan Presidential scholarship to study at the University of Arkansas at Little, USA in Systems Engineering Mechanical from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

 

He received his PhD and MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida where he worked on the interface of surface engineering for biomedical devices. 

He has worked for Intel, Tokyo Electron (TEL) and Lam Research Corporation.

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Joey Pazzi

Chemistry

Dr. Pazzi's current research interests include economical point of care diagnostics, the development of synthetic cells, and facilitating membrane fusion reactions with cells

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Huifang Qin

Data Science & Finance

Dr. Huifang Qin received her PhD in EECS from UC Berkeley. Huifang brings over 20 years of experience solving technology and business problems with data science. She led Data Science teams in autonomous driving, social media, digital advertising and finance technology companies to conduct research and build impactful products. Her group at ASDRP conducts finance research through practicing data science skills including data mining, statistical analysis, predictive modeling and optimizations. 

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Nataliya Starostina

Physical Science, Material Science and Engineering

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Dr. Nataliya Starostina is a passionate and dedicated educator committed to the quality of research. She was born, raised, and educated in Soviet Union. Nataliya’s teaching experience at Santa Clara University (SCU) started in 2018 and spans both graduate and undergraduate materials science-related courses. Before joining SCU, her professional journey in advanced technologies commenced at UCLA, focusing on the coarsening kinetics of age-hardening alloys. Subsequently, she navigated the landscape of atomic force microscopy at an AFM manufacturing startup, contributed to process management measurement solutions at Emerson, and participated in wireless industrial automation at another high-tech startup. In her industry career, she held various roles from research associate to application scientist, product manager, and director of marketing. During this time, Nataliya had the honor of mentoring both undergraduate and graduate students, serving as an industry advisor and scholar. The students’ accomplishments include winning Best Senior Design Project awards, contributing to teaching labs, presenting at scientific conferences, and publishing in peer-reviewed papers. She authored a book chapter sharing her pedagogy in teaching laboratory courses. This chapter is accessible online as an open-access article (2023).

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Suresh Subramaniam

Data Science 

Seasoned executive and data scientist with experience in managing large operations and applying data science to solve business problems.

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Akira Yamamoto

Biomaterials Engineering

Akira received his M.Sc. from Shinsyu University in Materials Engineering and has served as the Director of Materials Science & Engineering at BioPharmX prior to coming to ASDRP. The Yamamoto group at ASDRP performs research in biomaterials engineering.

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Tracy Zhang

Cancer Biology & Oncology

Dr. Zhang holds a PhD in biomedical sciences and has coauthored over twenty publications in precision oncology and molecular cancer biology.

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Marx Akl

Computational Physics, Material Science, Modeling and Simulations:  DFT and MD, Data Science and Machine Learning

Dr. Marx Akl stands as a distinguished physicist, holding a Ph.D. in Physics from the esteemed Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where his groundbreaking dissertation delved into "The Mechanical Response of Materials at the Nanoscale via Simulations." This academic prowess extends to master's degrees in Physics and Mechanical Engineering from RPI and the University of Southern California, underscoring a comprehensive and well-rounded educational journey.
 

With a rich tapestry of over a decade in research and professional experience, Dr. Akl occupies a unique intersection of Computational Physics, Material Science, and the avant-garde applications of machine learning and data science. His expertise is not confined to the theoretical realm; instead, it's a dynamic interplay with practical applications. Dr. Akl is renowned for employing sophisticated techniques such as density functional theory (DFT) and molecular dynamics (MD) modeling and simulations, unveiling new perspectives in solid-state physics and materials.

 

What sets Dr. Akl apart is his ability to seamlessly traverse diverse domains, where his work becomes a nexus of modern materials, theoretical and quantum physics, and the cutting edge of machine learning. This distinctive skill set positions him as a driving force in groundbreaking advancements at the confluence of these disciplines. Dr. Akl's journey is not just one of academic achievements but a testament to his capacity to merge theoretical insights with tangible, real-world applications, making him a transformative force in the realms of physics and data science.

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Omar Amer

Civil Engineering

Dr. Amer holds a PhD in civil engineering from Clemson University and is interested in developing next-generation green materials for carbon-sequestration.

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Zane Chen

Chemistry

Dr. Chen completed his PhD in Biochemistry at Oregon Health Sciences University with a thesis: Regulation of carnitine palmitoyltransferase I gene expression in vivo. He received his MD from Qingdao Medical College. He has done his Post-Doc at Oregon Health Sciences University.

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Clinton Cunha

Bioinformatics

Clinton has a Masters in Bioinformatics (University of Guelph) and a Masters of Science in Cellular and Molecular Medicine (University of Ottawa). He also has an Honors Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences (Carnegie Mellon University). His main areas of focus include Bioinformatics, Data Analysis, Python programming, Biology, Science, Cancer Research and ESL. Professionally, Clinton is a qualified Bioinformatician/Biologist/Instructor. 

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Pragati Dharmale

Electrical Engineering

Prof. Pragati Dharmale has 14 years of academia / industry research experience and received her M. Eng in Digital electronics and M.S. in computer science from Southern New Hampshire University, NH.  Her research interest includes application of EEG analysis with machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as STEM based applications designed for Raspberry PI with Python programming.

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Prabhjeet Kaur

Microbiology & Genetics

Prof. Prabhjeet Kaur graduated from CSU Bakersfield with an MS in Microbiology and a BS in Biology with an emphasis in Microbiology. She has been a full-time Microbiology Instructor at COS Visalia. She have been teaching college level biology courses for the last 5 years, and is currently an adjunct Anatomy Professor at EVC San Jose. Her thesis research included work on Coccidioides immitis, the causative agent of valley fever in the Northwestern Mojave Desert, and the Kaur lab here at ASDRP is interested in a variety of ecological-microbiological scientific questions.

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Prabin Lamichhane 

Mathematics, Statistics and Data Science

Mr. Prabin Lamichhane received his MS in Mathematics and Statistics from South Dakota State University and comes to ASDRP with several years of experience in developing data models for applications in industry. statistical analysis, machine learning, and data visualization. During his academic journey, Prabin collaborated on impactful research projects, delving into topics such as predictive modeling, natural language processing, and forensic analysis as well. As a data analyst at CNA Insurance, I honed my skills in data manipulation and interpretation. Prabin is experienced in utilizing a diverse set of tools, including Python, R, and SQL, to analyze large datasets, identify patterns, and develop data-driven strategies. Outside of the professional sphere, Prabin is an advocate for and actively participates in data science communities, attends industry conferences, and contributes insights to open-source projects. 

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Joseph Laurienzo

Applied Mathematics

Joseph holds an M.S. in applied physics from Case Western University, and is an ambitious scientist interested in using mathematical models to understand physical and biological phenomena.

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Viktoriia Liu

Chemistry

Experienced computational chemist with knowledge in ML/computer vision, bioinformatics, robotics, and structural biology. She received her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from UC Riverside.

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Phil Mui

Computer Science

Phil Mui, Ph.D., is Senior Vice President of Technology in Salesforce, and of the Office of the CTO.  He received his S.B., M.Eng., and Ph.D. from MIT, and an M.Phil as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford.

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Edward Njoo

Organic & Medicinal Chemistry

Dr. Njoo received his PhD in organic chemistry from Stanford University, MA from Biola University, and BSc from Loyola Marymount. Edward has published mulitple peer-reviewed papers in natural product synthesis, fluorine NMR, and chemical biology. 

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Bharat Poudyal

Biotechnology & Agronomy

Dr. Poudyal, a native of Nepal, received his PhD in Agronomy from the University of Hebei and MS degree from the University of Edinburgh. He is interested in the convergence of plant cell culture, community-based agriculture, and science-informed plant biology that enables new developments in human health. 

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Gayathri Renganathan

Medicinal Biochemistry

Gayathri obtained her M.Pharm at Anna University and has served as a lecturer in Inorganic & Analytical Chemistry, and in her area of expertise, medicinal biochemistry.

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Neelima Sangeneni

Physical & Electrochemistry

Dr. Sangeneni holds a PhD in nanomaterial chemistry, and has been involved in several successful startups in the Bay Area. The Sangeneni Lab at ASDRP works on the interface of physical chemistry & nanomaterials engineering.

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Vasudha Salgotra

Biology & Chemistry

Vasudha Salgotra is a research professional with a background in analytical chemistry and pharmacy. She has years of experience in supporting preclinical activities in drug development and delivery for small and large biologics. Her professional journey includes designing and validating plate-based immunoassays (ELISAs) and other bioanalytical techniques.

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Dr. John Wang

Principal Scientist; Molecular & Cell Biology

Dr. John Wang received his PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from Indiana University, and following that was a postdoctoral reserach fellow at Stanford Medical School in Oncology. Following this, Dr. Wang has been a leader in modern cancer immunotherapy, and has served as the chief scientific officer of a leading biotech company. Dr. Wang and his colleagues have previously placed multiple candidates, including most recently an interleukin-15 construct, into human clinical trials with the FDA. 

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Staff & Facility Managers

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Diego Martinez

Website and Communications Manager

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Tuyen Tran

Lab Staff

Former Faculty Advisors

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Kavya Tallapaka

Cancer Biology

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Nardeen Mikhail

Microbiology

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Karishma Johnson

Data Science and Ecology

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Asmita Dani

Electrical Engineering, RF Physics

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Nicholas Papano

Computer Science and Engineering

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Avery Kruger

Ecology and Evolution

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Scott Clark

Organic Chemistry

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Carly Truong

Molecular Neuroscience 

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Ankur Gupta

Molecular and Cell Biology

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Calvin Leung

Quantum Mechanics and Physics

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Sam Fendell

Machine Learning, Software

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