Group Members

Principal Investigator

Krystyn J. Van Vliet

Krystyn J. Van Vliet

Department of Materials Science & Engineering
Department of Biological Engineering
[Biography, Research, Teaching & Leadership]

Office: MIT Room 8-237
Mail: MIT Room 8-237; 77 Massachusetts Avenue; Cambridge, MA 02139 USA




 Graduate Students

Yen-Ting Chi

PhD Candidate, MIT Materials Science and Engineering

Yen-Ting’s research focuses on the oxygen vacancy migration mechanism under external drive. He uses both density functional theory and nano indentation to study the mechanism, which can be further applied to high performance energy product and next generation memory device. In his spare time, Yen-Ting enjoys playing badminton, board games and movies.  


Daniela Espinosa-Hoyos

PhD Candidate, MIT Chemical Engineering

Daniela is working towards better in vitro models of the nervous system microenvironment. In particular, she is using materials and additive manufacturing technologies to reproduce physical, mechanical and biochemical features of the neuron-glia niche and study the complex process of myelination. Myelination is a critical process involved in a myriad of developmental and neurodegenerative disorders.

Frances Liu

Frances Liu

PhD Candidate, MIT Biological Engineering

Frances’ research focuses on cell-matrix interactions in the context of blood vessel formation. She is exploring how mechanical and physical cues, in addition to biochemical signals, can inhibit or promote angiogenesis through modifying the extracellular matrix. Understanding angiogenesis is crucial in wound healing and tumor formation contexts. During her free time, Frances likes to watch movies, attend concerts, and go to the beach. 

Frank McGrogan

PhD Candidate, MIT Materials Science and Engineering

Frank is working toward the improvement of mechanical properties for ceramic compounds used in lithium-ion batteries. He hopes that his work can help illuminate the causes of microstructural damage during rechargeable battery cycling, and ultimately improve the lifetime and performance of batteries for commercial products. In his free time, Frank enjoys playing guitar, listening to music, and participating in various forms of exercise.


Alex Mijailovic

PhD Candidate, MIT Mechanical Engineering

Alex’s research focuses on the computational modeling and experimental characterization of mechanical properties of tissues and tissue-mimetic polymers. In his spare time, Alex enjoys playing guitar, piano and sports.  

lab pic for KVV website (2)

Deena Rennerfeldt

PhD Candidate, MIT Biological Engineering

Deena is interested in developing techniques for isolating mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from heterogeneous bone marrow stromal cell populations based on biophysical properties. She is also exploring potential methods for maintaining cell naivety during high-throughput MSC expansion. 

Jessica Swallow

Jessica Swallow

PhD Candidate, MIT Materials Science and Engineering

Jessica’s research focuses on the chemomechanics of transition-metal-oxides and rare-earth-metal-oxides for solid oxide fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries.  She uses specialized nanoindentation to investigate the causes of mechanical failure in these materials, with the aim of informing the design of mechanically stable, high performance oxides for energy applications.  In her spare time, she enjoys volleyball, drawing, and foosball.

Photo on 2013-02-21 at 14.35

Bo Qing

PhD Candidate, MIT Biological Engineering

Bo’s research focuses on the characterization of synthetic polymer systems that seek to mimic the rate dependent mechanical response of soft biological tissues. Experimental techniques such as nanoindentation, rheology, and AFM are used to quantify and compare the properties of these materials under different loading conditions. During his spare time, Bo enjoys playing various sports, winning money from poker, and watching movies.

Postdoctoral Associates


Shilpa Raja

PhD, University of California Berkeley, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Shilpa is working on battery material mechanics, and has demonstrated the importance of testing materials under controlled environments representative of device operation. She is further working on characterizing nanomechanics of electrodes for fuel cell applications, using dynamic chemical expansion and other in situ techniques. Her PhD research involved opto-mechanical stress sensing using fluorescent tetrapod nanocrystals.

Research Scientists

 Anna Jagielska

Anna Jagielska

PhD, University of Warsaw, Department of Chemistry, Poland

Anna is interested in understanding the interplay between in vivo chemomechanical environment and stem cell differentiation, with an ultimate goal of improving stem cell based therapies. She is currently focused on the role of mechanical factors in neural stem cell differentiation and myelin repair in neurodegenerative diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis. Anna’s past research fields include quantum chemistry (PhD), and computational biology and biophysics (postdoctoral).




Kathryn E. Simmons Room 13-5062, 77 Mass. Ave., MIT
Ph: 617-452-3499 (2-3499)


Name Position in Group Last Known Affiliation
Jeremy M. Young ScM, Harvard School of Dental Medicine 2004 Private Practice
Anita Shukla NSF REU, Summer 2004 PhD student, MIT ChemE
Patrick Barragan UROP, 2004 Undergraduate, MIT
Yemisi Afere NSF REU, Summer 2005 Technician, Johns Hopkins University
Irene Tobias DMSE UROP, Summer 2005 Graduate Student, UCSD
Kendall Werts DMSE UROP, Summer 2005
Doria Holbrook UROP, 2005 Undergraduate, MIT
Catherine Roberts NSF RET, Summer 2005 Somerville High School
Esther Yu NSF REU, Summer 2005
Mitsuo Notomi Visiting scientist, 2005-2006 Meiji University, Japan
Binu Oommen MS student, 2004-2006 Bose
Ted Feldman NSF REU, Summer 2006
Georgios Constantinides Postdoctoral associate, 2006-2007 University of Cyprus
Tim Lau MS student, 2005-2007 Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
Jack Milwid MS student, 2005-2007 Third Rock Ventures
Dessy (Nikova) Long Postdoctoral associate, 2006-2007 VA Boston Healthcare System
Catherine Tweedie PhD student, 2004-2007 Artist, Leap Metal
Emilio Silva PhD student, 2004-2007  Petrobras
M. Todd Thompson PhD student, 2004-2008
Christopher Bruce DMSE senior thesis, 2008 Boston Consulting Group
James Dahlman CMSE REU, Summer 2008 PhD student, HST
Wing Yee Lau NSF REU, Summer 2008
John Oliverio Summer researcher, 2008
Joan Mao MS student, 2006-2009
Sunyoung Lee PhD student, 2003-2009
Kyle Bryson NSF REU, Summer 2009 PhD student, University of Massachusetts (Amherst)
Ran Li NSF REU, Summer 2009
Sezen Buell PhD student, 2004-2010
Jennifer DeBerardinis NSF REU (BE), 2010 Universities of Sydney and Melbourne
Juan F. Rodriguez NSF REU (CMSE), 2010
Karen Stewart Postdoctoral associate, 2008-2010 GVD Corporation
Emily B. Walton PhD candidate, 2006-2011
Qing (Kitty) Ji Postdoctoral associate, 2009-2011 Chief Scientist of HPC Application and Marketing Manager, INSPUR (China)
Fei Deng Postdoctoral associate, 2009-2011 Interpretation Development Engineer, Schlumberger
Mukul Kabir Postdoctoral associate, 2007-2011 Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (India)
Meng Qu Postdoctoral associate, 2008-2011 Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Schlumberger-Doll Research
Jon Estrada UROP (MSE), 2011 Graduate student, Brown University
Eva Cheung UROP (ChemE), 2011 Sr. Research Associate, Gilead Sciences
Ben Hinton NSF REU (BE), Summer 2011 Undergraduate, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Jacob Wagner NSF REU (CMSE), Summer 2011 Undergraduate, Case Western Reserve University
Eric Lehnhardt NSF REU (BE), Summer 2011 Undergraduate, Arizona State University
John Maloney MEng student, 2005-2006; PhD student, 2006-2012 Research Scientist, Van Vliet Group
Romain Grossier Postdoctoral Associate, 2010-2012 Researcher, CINaM-7325 CNRS (France)
Abdul Salam Thelakkadan Postdoctoral Associate, 2010-2012 Scientist, SABIC (Saudi Arabia)
Ranjani K. Paradise PhD Student, 2006-2012 Research Associate, Institute for Community Health
Ilke Kalcioglu PhD Student, 2006-2012 Technologist, Gore
Remi Jolibois Quinot MEng Student, 2010-2012 Analyst, Summer Street Research Partners
Lucy Lee UROP (Wellesley), Summer 2012 Undergraduate, Wellesley College
Deepak Jagannathan MS Student, 2010-2012 Entrepreneurial Fellow, Flagship Ventures
Roza Mahmoodian Postdoctoral Associate, 2011-2013 Parker Group, Wyss Institute, Harvard University
Irene Chou Chen PhD Student, 2008-2013 Research Scientist, Gilead Sciences
Adam Zeiger NSF REU, Summer 2006; PhD Student, 2008-2013 Technology Specialist, Wolf Greenfield
Chia-Hua Lee PhD Student, 2008-2014 Research Engineer, Unilever
Kwan Li MS Student, 2011-2014
Aarthy Adityan MS Student, 2011-2014
Will Herbert PhD Student, 2010-2014