Leadership Team, Alumni and Founders
UT Southwestern Biotechnology Club
Maggie Wang - President
Maggie is a fourth-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 their lab, drives the induction of type I dendritic cells for cancer immunotherapy. Maggie's career goal is to run a biotech company, bridging the gap between business and science. Outside of lab, Maggie enjoys outdoor activities and exploring new restaurants in DFW.
Ryan Kowash - Vice-President
Ryan is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Cancer Biology program. He works in Dr. Esra Akbay's lab studying the mechanisms of chemoresistance in small cell lung cancer and novel immunotherapy targets for treatment. Ryan is interested in the pharmaceutical industry and immuno-oncology. Outside of lab, Ryan enjoys playing golf, running, and spending time with family and friends.
Abbas Zaki - Director of Operations
Abbas is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Biomedical Engineering prgoram. He 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. Outside of lab, Abbas enjoys running, making coffee, and listening to podcasts.
Kara Poole - Director of Marketing
Kara is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Engineering program. Her research in Dr. Matthew Petroll's lab focuses on corneal cell mechanics and wound healing. Outside of lab, Kara enjoys painting, baking, and trying new coffee shops in DFW.
Yehui Sun - Director of Seminar Series
Yehui is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Engineering program. She works in Dr. Daniel Siegwart's lab focusing on engineering lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) to deliver mRNA selectively to lung via intravenous administration and using Lung SORT LNPs to advance the gene editing technologies for cystic fibrosis. Yehui is interested in Pharm/Biotech industry and nanomedicine for clinical translation. Outside of lab, Yehui enjoys traveling and reading manga.
Shawn Huang - Director of External Affairs
Shao-Po (Shawn) Huang is a second-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. As an aspiring physician-scientist, Shawn 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. Outside of work, Shawn enjoys reading, playing badminton, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.
Tanner Reese - Director of Alumni Relations
Tanner is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Cancer Biology program. In the lab of Dr. Ganesh Raj, he focuses on model development for the study of breast cancer brain metastasis, with the end goal of identifying molecular drivers and clinical targets of this deadly disease. Tanner is interested in the pharmaceutical industry, specifically oncology drug development. Outside of lab, Tanner loves to golf, play and watch hockey, and spend time with friends and family.
June Ho Hwang - Director of International Relations
June Ho is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Molecular Biophysics programs. 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. June Ho's career goal is to join a venture capital firm to find opportunities in emerging biotechnology companies. Outside of lab, June Ho enjoys sleeping, eating and other basic needs.
Amogh Vaidya - Director of Fellowship
Amogh is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Engineering program (Nanomedicine track). As part of Dr. Daniel Siegwart's Lab, he is devising lipid nanoparticle-based strategies to facilitate extrahepatic delivery of siRNA. He is interested in advancing clinical translation of genetic medicines for currently undruggable pathologies in a biotech/pharma setting. Outside the lab, Amogh enjoys playing sports, cooking, traveling, and exploring eating/hiking spots around Dallas with friends.
Anirban Dasgupta - Director of Professional Workshops
Anirban is a first-year postdoc in the Department of Molecular Biology. His research in Michael Buszczak's lab focuses on understanding the intricate differences within the DNA replication and DNA damage response pathways in fly and human germline development as compared to their somatic counterparts. As a part of the Biotech Club exec team, he hopes to help UTSW students with their preparations for entering the Biotech industry through training workshops. Outside of lab, Anirban enjoys watching soccer, cooking, and trying out new cuisines.
Animesha Krishnamurthy - Assistant Director of Marketing
Animesha is a second-year Ph.D. student in the BME program, working in Dr. Jinming Gao's lab. Her current research involves evaluation of STING-activating nanoparticles in patient-derived tumor fragments. Outside of lab, she enjoys reading, making homemade coffee syrups, and spending time with her family.
- Assistant Director of Seminar Series
Sonya is a first-year PhD student aiming to join a lab in the Neuroscience program at UTSW. Prior to joining the program, Sonya was a Physical Therapist working in the public and private sectors in the UK, Nepal and Israel. Following completion of her MSc in Neuroscience at University College London, Sonya worked as a research assistant at Imperial College London, where she studied osteoderm development in squamates. Sonya moved to Dallas in 2022, where she worked as a research associate in the Department of Surgery at UTSW, studying heterotopic ossification in mouse models. Sonya would like to pursue a career in translational neuroscience within the biotechnology sector. Outside of work, Sonya enjoys travelling, art and frequenting the theater.
Gabriela Ayala Pazzi - Assistant Director of External Affairs
Gaby is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Biomedical Engineering program. With a background in Biology and two years of experience in cancer research, she hopes to dedicate her Ph.D. to elucidating the mechanisms behind targeted drug delivery and drug resistance in cancer. Her goal is to be part of the driving force of scientists who take innovative treatments from the bench to the clinic. In her free time, Gaby likes listening to music, shopping, and spending time with friends.
Purbita Saha - Assistant Director of Alumni Relations
Purbita is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Genetics, Development and Disease Graduate Program. Her research in Dr. Laura Banaszynski's lab is focused on understanding chromatin-mediated regulation of enhancer activation during embryonic stem cell differentiation. Purbita is excited to work with the Biotech Club leadership team to help develop resources and create learning opportunities for students interested in a career in the Biotech industry. Outside of lab, Purbita is a gastronome who also enjoys cooking and baking.
- Assistant Director of International Relations
Malavika (Mal) is a first-year Ph.D. student interested in innate immune cell signaling research to identify therapeutic targets. During her masters, she was studying the role of mitochondrial cell death signaling in response to Listeria infection. As a part of the Biotech Club, she is looking to engage with diverse perspectives and connect different communities of biotechnologists to achieve a more global approach to advancing biotechnology research. In the future, she would like to contribute to the strategic planning of turning scientific discoveries into marketable products. Outside of the lab, she enjoys yoga, podcasts, dancing, and visiting historic towns.
Katherine Borner - Assistant Director of Fellowship
Kate is a third year Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Engineering program. She works in Dr. Matt Petroll's lab in the Department of Ophthalmology where she focuses on the characterization of gene expression patterns during corneal wound healing events. Outside of lab work, Kate enjoys caring for her collection of plants, music and spending time with her friends, family and corgi.
Founding Members and Alumni
John "Tyler" Piazza
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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 Casida Dizon
James is a fourth-year Ph.D. Candidate in Dr. Ian Corbin's lab in the Advanced Imaging Research Center department at UT Southwestern. His current research focuses on exploiting metabolic liabilities in clear cell renal cell carcinoma using a low-density lipoprotein-based nanoparticle system. 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.
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.
Previous president, Alumni
Akansha has recently obtained her Ph.D. in Genetics, Development, and Disease from UTSW. Her research in Dr. Eric N. 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 advancing the fields of cancer biology, cancer immunology, and drug discovery by working in a translational Biotech setting. Outside of research, she enjoys running, playing badminton, dancing, and any outdoor activity.