University of Pennsylvania · Department of Bioengineering

Lab Members

Research Assistant Professor
Zhiliang Cheng, Ph.D

Research Associate
Ahmad Amirshaghaghi, Ph.D

Post-doctoral Researchers
Burcin Altun

Graduate Students
Alex Chan
Bonirath Chhay
Bian Jang
Fabiana Zappala
Lab Alumni

Zhiliang Cheng, Ph.D

Research Associate Professor, Department of Bioengineering, 2012 - present
Email: zcheng AT


Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.R. China
Ph.D, Department of Chemistry, 2002

Anhui Normal University, P.R. China
B.S., Department of Chemistry, 1996

Work Experience

University of Pennsylvania,Philadelphia, PA
Department of Bioengineering
Research Specialist, 2007 – 2012

University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Department of Chemistry
Research Associate, 2004 – 2006

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and University of Zurich, Switzerland
Department of Biology
Postdoctoral Associate, 2002 – 2004

Ahmad Amirshaghaghi

Research Associate, Department of Bioengineering, 2020- present
Email: ahmadam AT


Tarbiat Modares University, Iran
Ph.D, Polymer Engineering, 2010

Iran Polymer & Petrochemical Institute, Iran
M.S., Polymer Engineering and Science, 2003

Tabriz University, Iran
B.S., Applied Chemistry, 2001

Work Experience

University of Pennsylvania,Philadelphia, PA
Department of Bioengineering
Post-doctoral Fellow, 2015– 2019

Burcin Altun

Post-doctoral Fellow, Department of Bioengineering, 2015 - 2018, 2019 - present
Email: baltun AT


The Open University, United Kingdom
Ph.D, Molecular Genetics, 2014

Istanbul University, Turkey
M.S., Molecular Biology and Genetics, 2011

Istanbul University, Turkey
B.S., Molecular Biology and Genetics, 2009


Alex Chan

Ph.D Candidate, Department of Bioengineering. 2019 – Present
Email: chanalex AT


Penn State University, PA
B.S., Biomedical Engineering, 2018

Bonirath Chhay

Ph.D Candidate, Department of Bioengineering, 2018 – Present
HHMI-NIBIB Interfaces Program
Email: bchhay AT


Harvard University, MA
S.B., Engineering Sciences - Bioengineering Track, 2018


Bian Jang

Ph.D Candidate, Department of Bioengineering, 2018 – Present
Email: bajang AT


Pukyong National University, Republic of Korea
M.S., Biomedical Engineering, 2017
B.S., Biomedical Engineering, 2016



Fabiana Zapalla

Ph.D Candidate, Department of Bioengineering, 2016 – Present
Email: fzappala AT


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA
S.B., Chemical-Biological Engineering, 2016


Lab Alumni

Postdoctoral Researchers
Lesan Yan, Ph.D. 2014 – 2018
Kido Nwe, Ph.D. 2011 – 2017
Ching-Hui Huang, Ph.D. 2009 – 2016
Jayesh Thawani, M.D. 2014 – 2016
Yang Song, Ph.D. 2012 – 2014
Xuemei Zhang, Ph.D. 2009 – 2013
Jason Poff, M.D. 2010 – 2011
Ha-Young Lee, Ph.D. 2008 – 2008
Jing Lu, M.D, Ph.D. 2007 – 2008
Clare Zhang, M.D.

2006 – 2007
Graduate Students
Elizabeth Dempsey Ph.D., 2019
Dissertation: Engineering novel nanomaterials from ultrasmall gold clusters for use in cancer therapy

Hejia (Henry) Wang Ph.D., 2019
Dissertation: Cytosolic delivery of inhibitory antibodies with cationic lipids

Jessica Liu Ph.D., 2018
Dissertation: Harnessing non-linear magnetic fields to control nanoparticle delivery and drug release

James Hui Ph.D., 2015
Dissertation: Engineering a light-activated protein domain for the site-specific conjugation of native IgGs

Rob Warden-Rothman Ph.D., 2015
Dissertation: The development, use, and optimization of sortase-tag expressed protein ligation

Ajlan Al Zaki Ph.D., 2014
Dissertation: Gold and iron loaeded micelles: a multifunctioanl approach for combined imaging, therapy, and improved pharmacokinetics

Sam Crayton Ph.D., 2012
Dissertation: ICP-MS analysis of lanthanide-doped nanoparticles: a quantitative and multiplexing approach to investigate biodistribution, blood clearance and targeting

Drew Elias Ph.D., 2011
Dissertation: Chemical and biological strategies for improving the sensitivty of SPIO-enhanced MR imaging

Julie Czupryna Ph.D., 2010
Dissertation: The development, characterization and implementation of a reactive oxygen species-responsive ratiometric bioluminescent reporter and its use as a sensor for programmed cell death

Daniel L. Thorek Ph.D., 2009
Dissertation: Monitoring of immune cell response to B cell depletion therapy and nerve root injury using SPIO enhanced MRI

Antony K. Chen Ph.D., 2008
Dissertation: Quantitative imaging and high-throughput analysis of RNA in living cells using molecular-beacon conjugates