Current Graduate Students
Roberts lab in 2008. The general aim of Rohan’s research is to better understand the heterogeneity in plant cell cultures, with a focus on elucidating the relationship between cell populations and paclitaxel accumulation in culture. He is presently working on the application of molecular approaches to characterize and manipulate Taxus metabolism in distinct cell subpopulations.
Whitney Stoppel completed her B.S. in Chemical Engineering with minors in Mathematics and Cell & Molecular Biology at Tulane University in 2008. Following an REU program in Cellular Engineering at UMass in 2007, Whitney chose to attend graduate school at UMass, continuing to work in the Roberts lab. She joined the Roberts lab in the fall of 2008, and is working on enhancing the growth and functionality of mammalian cells in 3-D constructs by tailoring mechanical and physiological properties within the device through a collaboration with Surita Bhatia, Kim Tremblay, and Al Crosby.
Sarah Wilson completed her B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Rowan University in the spring of 2009. She decided to attend graduate school at UMass to conduct research in cellular engineering and joined the Roberts group in the fall of 2009. Sarah's focus is on characterizing novel genes involved in paclitaxel production with an overall goal to enhance the accumulation and production of paclitaxel in Taxus cell cultures through agrobacterium-mediated transformation. She is completing this work in collaboration with Joyce Van Eck at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research in Ithaca, New York.
Lisa Leone completed her B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia. During the course of her undergraduate education she participated in internship programs at ConocoPhillips, Dupont and Genencor, the last of which sparked an interest in biotechnology. She joined the Roberts group in the fall of 2010 to optimize plant cell growth in bioreactors through a combination of mathematical modelling and experimental techniques in collaboration with Mike Henson.
Current Undergraduate Researchers
Katie Geldhart will graduate with her B.S. in Chemical Engineering in May 2012 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is currently applying to graduate school for the fall 2012 semester. Katie works on optimizing Taxus cell suspension culture (beginning under the direction of Marty) using the coulter counter to measure changes in aggregate size over time.
Sarena Horava will graduate with her B.S. in Chemical Engineering in May 2012 from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is currently applying to graduate school for the fall 2012 semester. She has worked in the field of biomaterials and tissue engineering with Whitney Stoppel in the Roberts lab since the beginning of her sophomore year. She has received numerous UMass Commonwealth Honors College fellowships and has presented a poster at the UMass Undergraduate Research Symposium in the spring of 2010 and 2011. This fall, she will present her work at the BMES annual meeting in Hartford, CT during the undergraduate poster session. Currently, she is completing her honors thesis through the exploration of smooth muscle cell extracellular matrix secretion in alginate hydrogels over time.
Kelsey Mantoni joined the Roberts Lab in the fall of 2011 as a sophomore honor chemical engineering student to begin work on her Capstone honors thesis. Kelsey will be working with Whitney in the field of biomaterials and tissue engineering.
Michael Vilkhavoy joined the Roberts Lab in the fall of 2011 as a sophomore honor chemical engineering student to begin work on his Capstone honors thesis. Michael will be working with Sarah on plant cell culture transformation.
Alec Gramann joined the Roberts Lab in the fall of 2011 as a sophomore chemical engineering student to begin work on plant cell culture dynamics in stirred bioreactors with Lisa.
William Tyler Frantz joined the Roberts Lab in the fall of 2011 as a sophomore chemical engineering student to begin work on plant cell culture dynamics in stirred bioreactors with Lisa.
Former Postdoctoral Researchers
Former Graduate Students
Former Undergraduates with Honors Theses
Former REU Students
The Roberts lab is always willing to take REU students funded through programs on the UMass campus. Please see the Institute for Cellular Engineering REU program and the UMass College of Engineering REU program for opportunities.