Leadership Team, Alumni and Founders

UT Southwestern Biotechnology Club

Current Leadership

Ryan Kowash




Ryan is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Cancer Biology program. He works in Esra Akbay's laboratory studying the mechanisms of chemoresistance in small cell lung cancer and novel immunotherapy targets for treatment. Outside of the lab he enjoys playing golf, running, and spending time with family and friends. Ryan is interested in the pharmaceutical industry and immuno-oncology. 

Kara Poole

Director of Marketing



Kara is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Engineering program at UT Southwestern. Her research in Dr. Matthew Petroll's lab focuses on cell mechanics and corneal wound healing. Kara is excited to work with the Biotech Club leadership this year to help more students learn about the exciting careers that are available to them in the biotech industry.

Shawn Huang

Director of External Affairs


Shao-Po (Shawn) Huang is a first-year MD/PhD candidate at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Prior to joining the program, he was a biologist in biotechnology discovery research at Eli Lilly and Co. for almost two years. During his time there, he worked on a variety of projects ranging from oral delivery of peptide cargos to cell-specific delivery of RNA-based therapeutics. Outside of work, he enjoys reading, playing badminton, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. Shawn is interested in building and strengthening relationships between academia and industry. As an aspiring physician-scientist, he hopes to bridge basic, translational, and clinical research in order to deliver better and safer therapies to patients in need. His research interests include immuno-oncology and novel therapeutic technologies.

Yehui Sun

Director of Engagement



Yehui is a Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Engineering Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She works in Dr. Daniel Siegwart's lab focusing on engineering lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) to deliver mRNA selectively to lung via intravenous administration and use Lung SORT LNPs to advance the gene editing technologies (CRISPR/Cas9, Base editor and Prime editor) for cystic fibrosis. Yehui is interested in nanomedicine and is excited to be involved in the Biotech Club leadership this year.

Maggie Wang




Maggie is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Engineering program. She works in Dr. Jinming Gao's lab, investigating the mechanism in which polySTING, a novel nanoparticle-based STING agonist developed in the Gao lab, drives the induction of type I dendritic cells for cancer immunotherapy. Outside of lab, she enjoys outdoor activities and exploring new restaurants/food. Maggie's career goal is to run a biotech company, bridging the gap between business and science. 

Akansha Shah

Biotech Advisor



Akansha is a Ph.D. candidate in the Genetics, Development, and Disease Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Her research in Dr. Eric Olson's lab focuses on investigating the transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms that repress skeletal muscle differentiation and promote tumor growth in Rhabdomyosarcoma. Akansha is interested in collaborating with KOLs and decision makers to translate scientific discoveries into successful therapeutic interventions. Akansha served as the previous president of the Biotech Club, and continues on as an Advisor to the club.  

Abbas Zaki

Director of Communications



Abbas is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Biomedical Engineering program at UTSW. Abbas works in Dr. Matteo Ligorio's lab to better understand intra-tumor heterogeneity in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) with the goal of uncovering effective therapeutic targets. When not in the lab, Abbas enjoys running, making coffee, and listening to podcasts.

June Ho Hwang

Director of International Initiatives


June Ho is a Ph.D candidate in the Molecular Biophysics program at UT Southwestern Medical Center. His research in Dr. Michael Rosen's lab focuses on investigating the nature of material properties in biomolecular condensates that form via liquid-liquid phase separation. Outside of the lab, he enjoys weightlifting, cooking and going to art exhibitions. June Ho's career goal is to join a Venture Capital firm to find opportunities in emerging biotechnology companies.

Tanner Reese

Director of Alumni Relations


Tanner is a third-year Ph.D candidate in the Cancer Biology program. Under the mentorship of Dr. Ganesh Raj, he focuses on model development and study of breast cancer brain metastasis, with the end goal of identifying molecular drivers and clinical targets of this deadly disease. Outside of the lab he loves to golf, play and watch hockey, and spend time with friends and family. Tanner is interested in the pharmaceutical industry, specifically oncology drug development.

Interested in Biotechnology?

Considering careers outside of academia?

Apply to join the Biotech Club Executive Team!

To apply, please email us at Biotech.Club@UTSouthwestern.edu with a completed application form as a PDF document. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about the team or application process! 

Founding Members and Alumni

Jackson Gartman

Co-Founder, Alumni



Jackson Gartman is currently a medicinal chemist at AbbVie. Jackson was a co-founder of the Biotech Club and joined UTSW in 2016 as a graduate student in Uttam Tambar's lab in the Biochemistry department, where he focused on the total synthesis of natural products, chemical methodology, and medicinal chemistry collaborations. In 2020 he joined AbbVie in Lake County, IL in their Protein Degradation Platform Team as a Senior Scientist.

John "Tyler" Piazza

Founder, Alumni



Tyler founded the Biotechnology Club in the summer of 2018 to provide an industry-focused campus organization to the UT Southwestern student body. Tyler graduated with his M.S. in Genetics, Development, and Disease and now lives in Boston where he works in the life sciences and healthcare data industry. Following graduation, he gained experience working as a strategy consultant, including a role at Trinity Life Sciences where he developed a passion for using real-world healthcare data to improve the development, launch, and commercialization of new therapies. Tyler now works at a genomic data company called Helix where he helps develop new product offerings and supports business development efforts by negotiating partnerships with bio-pharma companies

Jordan Baumhardt 




Jordan completed his Ph.D. at UT Southwestern Medical Center focused on Biophysics in early 2020. He studied how a prominent mutation in the major nuclear export machinery contributes to cancer pathogenesis in Yuh Min Chook's lab. During his time at UT Southwestern, Jordan led market analysis projects for promising early-stage technologies at the UTSW Office of Technology Development. He then stepped away from his Ph.D. studies for a summer to join the Flagship Pioneering Venture Fellowship in Boston. Soon after the Flagship fellowship, he spent six months interning with the Strategy Department at Reata Pharmaceuticals. Outside of biotech, Jordan is a coffee enthusiast and is developing manufacturing methods to substantially improve the quality of coffee. Jordan joined LifeSci Capital as a Biotech Equity Research Associate mid-2020.

Aman Kumar




Aman completed his Ph.D. in molecular microbiology from the laboratory of Prof. Vanessa Sperandio at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 2020. Aman studied how tryptophan metabolites affect the human microbiome and host-pathogen interactions. Currently, Aman is a postdoctoral associate at the Yale School of Medicine, where he is exploring the interactions between xenobiotics and the gut microbiome. Aman is interested in devising strategies for precision medicine. Beyond the lab, Aman is actively involved with the Yale Postdoctoral Association heading the mentorship committee currently at Yale.

Madeline Milligan

Previous Exec Member



Madeline is a Ph.D. candidate in the Biological Chemistry program at UT Southwestern. Her research in Ben Tu's lab focuses on investigating the effects of nutrient availability and metabolic state on gene expression and epigenetics. Madeline is interested in the pharmaceutical industry.

Minghao Li




Minghao is a Ph.D. candidate in the Immunology Program at UT Southwestern. His work in the Chen lab focuses on understanding how innate immune signaling pathways can be modulated to adapt to different diseases. Minghao is interested in understanding how scientific discoveries can be developed into profitable drugs and devices.

Yongbin Choi




Yongbin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Immunology Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center. His research in Dr. Andrew Koh's lab focuses on understanding the effects of resident bacteria (microbiota) in the gastrointestinal tract on cancer immunotherapy. Outside of research, Yongbin is interested in how the current macroeconomic situation can influence the biopharmaceutical industry and individual companies. 

Colton Davis

Previous president, Alumni

Currently a Scientist in the Process Chemistry Team at Sanofi 



Colton completed his Ph.D. in the Organic Chemistry Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center with Professor Joseph M. Ready in June of 2022. His research in the Ready lab focused on iridium-catalyzed enantioselective allylation of highly functionalizable boronic esters, including a detailed-mechanistic investigation of the transformation. Colton currently works at Sanofi in Boston, Massachusetts as a Scientist in the US Process Chemistry team. He is responsible for the design and preliminary process development of NDA routes for commercial manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients.

Lindsay Johnson

Graduate Advisor



Lindsay is a Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Engineering Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Her research in Dr. Daniel Siegwart's lab focuses on investigating the interactions of RNA-loaded dendrimer lipid nanoparticles with specific cell populations of the liver. Outside of research, Lindsay is passionate about fitness and nutrition. She enjoys long-distance running and is currently training for her third marathon. Lindsay is excited to be involved in the Biotech Club leadership this year and is interested in the pharmaceutical industry and cell-specific nanomedicine.

James Raynard Dizon

Previous executive



James is a third-year Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Ian Corbin lab in the Advanced Imaging Research Center department at UT Southwestern. He is studying macrophage polarization using a lipoprotein-docosahexaenoic acid-based nanoparticle platform in clear cell renal cell carcinoma. Using this platform, he also wants to understand the underlying role of cholesterol in cancer development and treatment. Beyond the lab, James enjoys hiking/camping and making coffee in the woods. In the future, James wants to work at the intersection of science and the clinic as a medical science liaison.