Present team of weirdos

Dan Nicolau
Principal investigator

Nationality: Romanian, Australian, Canadian (and lived in UK, and Japan)

Background: Chemical Engineering & Cybernetics

Project description: well….

Dan is the head of our team. He loves splendiferous orchestral music, especially when conducted or played by people with intertwisting last names. Citing him: “…Pictures at the exhibition, Mussorgsky-Ravel, but only if directed by Celibidache; still very few concerts have an actual big bell “The Great Gate of Kiev", this one does (43:00). Khatia Buniatishvili is also great“. His favorite book is Imaginary magnitude, by Stanisław Lem and his favorite animal is his cat Sid who of course has a lot to say about our projects too.

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Ayyappasamy (Ayyappa) Sudalaiyadum Perumal
Faculty lecturer and very special collaborator
Kavya Rajendran

Nationality: Indian

Background: Microbiology, Bachelor in Biotechnology, Masters in Bioengineering

Project description: Kavya joined the team as a Master’s student in 2018. For two years she studied bacterial response to nanoscale surface topography. Currently, her PhD research is focused on understanding motility and space searching algorithms of microorganisms in confined microenvironments.

Kavya adores cats and knows many weird facts.  She enjoys R&B and classical music; Bruno mars is her favorite. She loves dancing and is a trained Indian classical dancer. The smell of rain (Petrichor), coffee, biriyani, and the upside-down smiley face emoji are a few of her favorite things.  

Karine Baassiri

Nationality: Lebanese

Background: Karine has a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering, she worked for some years in the industry and then started her Master's degree which she then fast-tracked to PhD in 2021.

Project description: Karine is currently focused on designing and operating microfluidic devices that mimic blood vessels with bubble generation. She hopes to deliver some fundamental facts related to gas embolism by determining its origins, evolution, and optimum intervention techniques.

Karine has an adorable kitten and plans on adopting a baby goat one day (seriously). She loves history and even wishes she could travel back to the 1920s just to experience a night of swing dancing in an old jazz bar. Her worst nightmare is karaoke singing... she believes it would be YOUR worst nightmare too if she ever decides to do that.

Gala Montiel

Nationality: Mexican

Background: Gala studied in Mexico and graduated with a degree in Environmental Engineering. She worked for some years in an ERA team for the hydrocarbon sector but decided to start her master's in the Biological Microfluidics team in 2020, where she later Fast-tracked to PhD. 

Project description: Gala's research is focused on understanding the exploration and motility strategies of distributed systems such as filamentous fungi or the protist Physarum polycephalum and through single agents such as bacteria, using microfluidic devices.

Gala is totally OBSESSED with her three dogs, or any dog for that matter (especially when wearing winter boots and coats). She loves finding new coffee shops in cities and will totally judge a place by its croissants and latte art. She'll always make memes and Harry Potter references to explain a certain situation, believes humans are nefarious, planet Earth is doomed, and saying "comfortable" in English is a horrible experience.

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Mohammad Mahdi Mardanpour

Nationality: Iranian

Background: B.Sc, M.Sc AND PhD Chemical Engineering

Project description: Mohammad has done research in bioelectrochemical processes, microsystem engineering, and biomedical engineering. His current project is focused on mimicking the phenomenon and understanding the causes of gas embolism in microfluidic systems.

Mohammad is starting his second PhD with our team. He likes swimming, bodybuilding, and mountain climbing. His favorite music is pop and he is REALLY into American pizza (no offense Italians). Currently, he is into watching western movies and documentaries. He loves discussing different topics and is one of the few people on Earth who can easily start from scratch and go back to the beginning of a process without feeling frustrated.

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Zahra Mahmoudi

Nationality: Iranian

Background: Zahra did her undergraduate studies as a Mechanical engineer, with a focus on solid design and she later graduated with a Masters's Degree in Bioengineering and Biomechanics. 

Project description: She is currently focused on studying how surfaces interact in different ways (e.g. molecular level) with biological systems in order to design and fabricate artificial surfaces that mimic these kinds of phenomena.

Zahra is the team's official programmer and Matlab master. She has a secret box of teas and a huge Nutella jar on her desk. Her favorite song is Sway by Dean Martin (in case it doesn't ring a bell just imagine the song played in every tango movie scene). She enjoys watching movies and listening to any kind of music.  

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Matthew Cho

Nationality: Canadian (Japanese & Chinese heritage)

Background: B. Eng. in bioengineering from McGill (part of the third ever cohort).

Project description: Matthew is interested in computational biology and molecular modeling. His research is focused on applying computational methods to better understand molecular surfaces.

Matthew is notoriously bad at the game “Operation”, which is why he prefers his computer keyboard to the pipette. He loves to watch and play sports, to cook, to try new restaurants, and to have a few beers with friends. He enjoys TV series’, although he tries to avoid starting new ones because he’ll binge them obsessively (Community and Succession are his favourites!). He loves to joke around and doesn’t take himself too seriously so feel free to say hi!