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Prof. Nicholas Stephanopoulos


Nick was born in Athens, Greece, but grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts. He obtained his A.B. in chemistry from Harvard University, followed by a one-year stint to earn a Master’s in chemical engineering at MIT. He then pursued doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley, working with Prof. Matthew Francis. His research focused on using site-specific bioconjugation chemistry to modify viral capsid nano-scaffolds, in order to create materials for energy, biomedicine, and nanotechnology. After earning his PhD in 2010, he went to Northwestern University for postdoctoral studies, supported by both NIH Ruth Kirschtein and International Institute for Nanotechnology fellowships, working with Prof. Samuel Stupp on self-assembling peptide nanomaterials and their applications to regenerative medicine.


At both Berkeley and Northwestern, Nick became interested in integrating proteins and peptides with DNA nanotechnology. In 2015, he began his independent career at Arizona State University, with a goal to merge these molecules into a new class of hybrid nanomaterials, with applications across a range of fields. In May 2021 he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in the School of Molecular Sciences and the Biodesign Institute’s Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics, and has affiliate appointments in Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, The Biomimicry Center, and the Global Security Initiative at ASU. Since coming to ASU, Nick has received the 2016 Air Force (AFOSR) Young Investigator Award, the 2018 Elsa U. Pardee Foundation Award for Cancer Research, the 2018 NSF CAREER Award, and the 2018 NIH New Innovator Award. In August 2023, Nick was appointed the Associate Director of the Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics.

Research Assistant Professors


Dr. Minghui Liu


Minghui is from Wuhan, China. She received her bachelor's degree (2008) from Wuhan University, China and her doctorate degree (2013) from Arizona State University. Her previous research focused on DNA nanostructure-directed protein assembly, and currently she works on photo-actuation of DNA nanostructures, photo-switchable proteins, and DNA-protein hybrid nanostructures.


Graduate students


Md Al-Amin


Alamin is from Bangladesh where he received his Bachelor in Chemistry and Masters in Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry from the University of Dhaka. His research interest are the de novo synthesis of proteins from synthetic peptides via native chemical ligation with DNA-templated reactions. When Alamin is not in the lab, he loves traveling, watching English TV series, Cricket and Football (Soccer) and hanging out with friends.



Alexandra Novacek


Ally (she/her/they/them) is from Phoenix, Arizona and received their American Chemical Society certified B.S. in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry at Northern Arizona University. Their research interests are DNA-protein hybrid nanostructures and DNA-peptide bioconjugates. In their free time, Ally is either painting, drawing, hiking, or creating posts for the instagram of ASU’s club GRADient.

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Paul Workinger


Paul attended the University of Arizona from 2010-2014 as an undergraduate completing degrees in Molecular & Cellular Biology and Physiology, and from 2015-2017 as a Master's student in Cellular and Molecular Medicine. His previous research interests include gap junctions proteins, cardiovascular dysfunction, ALS, and most recently oncology and pathology. Paul is pursuing his PhD jointly through Caris Life Sciences and ASU, where he hope to advance our ability to detect and quantify tumor bio markers to select patients for the best possible treatment.


Abhay Prasad


Abhay is from India where he received master’s degree in organic chemistry from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT Kanpur) in 2019. Abhay is co-advised by Prof Hao Yan, where his research interests include the targeted delivery of DNA nanostructures for therapeutic applications, as well as DNA-templated protein synthesis using peptide fragments.


Rong Zheng


Rong is from China and received her B.S in Clinical Laboratory Medicine and M.S in cell biology from Central South University. Rong is co-advised by Prof. Hao Yan, and her research interests are diagnosing and treating viruses infection and cancer with tools from the DNA/peptide nanotechnology toolbox. In her free time, she likes hiking and playing fitness ring adventure.  


Xinyi Tu

Xinyi is from Wuhan, China. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Biology Science from Wuhan University in 2020. Co-advised by Dr. Hao Yan, her research interests include DNA nanostructures and their application in the biomedical field, especially for cancer treatment. In her free time, she likes reading and K-pop music.


Charitha Rajapakse

Charitha is from Sri Lanka, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from University of Colombo. Co-advised by Dr. Audrone Lapinaite, his graduate research focuses on DNA nanostructure-based delivery of precision genome editing tools into cells. In his free time, he likes to read, listen to music and try out new recipes.

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Bryan Ugaz

Bryan Ugaz (they/them) is originally from San Diego, California and completed their undergraduate degrees in biochemistry and biophysics at Arizona State University in 2021. The bulk of their undergraduate research was performed under the supervision of Dr. Marcia Levitus and focused on discovering the correlation between DNA's physical deformability and the kinetics of uracil-DNA-glycosylase. Broadly speaking, their current research interests lie at the intersection of DNA and protein nanotechnology. They are co-advised with Dr. Jeremy Mills, where they synthesize novel ncAAs.



Karen Baker

Karen is from Scottsdale, Arizona, and received her bachelor's degree in forensic chemistry from the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University in 2016. She then earned her master's in pharmacology from the University of Oxford, followed by three years working at the University of Pennsylvania Gene Therapy Program. Co-advised by Dr. Rizal Hariadi, her research interests include the use of DNA-protein technology for targeted protein manipulation with therapeutic applications, such as antivirals. In her free time, Karen enjoys drawing, playing board games, traveling, and trying new foods.



Justin Brower

Justin is from Phoenix, where he received his B.S. in Biochemistry from Arizona State University in 2022. His graduate research interest focuses on DNA-templated polymer synthesis, as well supramolecular self-assembly of DNA-peptide hybrid nanostructures. In his free time, he enjoys reading a book at a local coffee shop or playing video games. 

John Shin

Bryan Le

Thy Nguyen

Lab Alumni

Dr. Alex Buchberger (PhD student; currently at Nimble Therapeutics)

Dr. Tara MacCulloch (PhD student; currently at Palamedrix)

Dr. Raghu Pradeep Narayanan (PhD student; currently postdoc in the Douglas Lab (UCSF))

Dr. Nour Eddine Fahmi (Research Scientist)

Dr. Kirstie Swingle (advisors: Neal Woodbury, Alex Green)

Dr. Fallon Fumasi (advisor: Julianne Holloway)

Dr. Yang Xu (Research assistant professor; currently working in Wang lab, Biodesign)

Dr. Jonah Procyk (PhD student; currently at Novateur Research Solutions)

Dr. Skylar Henry (PhD student; currently postdoc at Health Futures Center)

Dr. Julio Bernal-Chanchavac (PhD student; currently postdoc at the Schaffer and Kumar labs, UC Berkeley)

Josh Mccluskey (Visiting scientist; Glover Lab, UNSW; Sydney Australia)

Ivana Visova (Visiting scientist; Lisalova Lab, FZU; Prague, Czech Republic)

Brittany Flores  (4+1 Master's program)

Omar Loza  (4+1 Master's program)

Ryan Merkley  (4+1 Master's program)

Ann-Marie Aziz  (4+1 Master's program)

Timothy Lee Griswold (4+1 Master's program)

Ilyssa Crawford (Undergraduate researcher)

Adam Akkad (Undergraduate researcher)

Tyler Rockwood (4+1 Master's program)

Matt Nam (Undergraduate researcher)

Broderick Moore (Undergraduate researcher)

Colton Seever (Undergraduate researcher)

Grant Severson (Undergraduate researcher)

Anna Hostal (Undergraduate researcher)

Leif Lindberg (Undergraduate researcher)

Yash Gamoth (Undergraduate researcher)

Jonathan Chapman (Undergraduate researcher)

Kaitlyn Cribbs (Undergraduate researcher)

Tejit Miryala (Undergraduate researcher)

Eva Chen (Undergraduate researcher)

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