Lab Members

Principal Investigators

Karen McDonald, PhD
Biographical Sketch

Professor, Dept. Chemical Engineering
3008 Bainer Hall
Office Phone: (530) 752-8314

Faculty Director, UC Davis ADVANCE Program
1104 Surge III
Office Phone: (530) 752-6885
Somen Nandi, PhD
Biographical Sketch

Adjunct Professor, Dept. Chemical Engineering
3112 Bainer Hall
Office Phone: (916) 838-0918

Managing Director, Global Healthshare® Initiative
318A Life Sciences Building
Office Phone: (530) 752-3613

Postdoctoral Researchers

Visiting Scholars

Hiroto Hirano

Hiroto received his Ph.D. degree in biological science from Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Japan. He works for a Japanese food company.He began working in the McDonald/Nandi lab in March 2019 as a visiting scholar.His current research is in clarifying the appropriate condition of expression and purification of a human therapeutic protein, Alpha-1-antitrypsin, using a transient expression system in Nicotiana benthamiana.


Min Du

Min Du is a graduated BSc. with double majors in Biochemical Engineering and Chemical Engineering from UC Davis. He started working in the lab in September 2018, and he is currently serving as a junior specialist to work with his mentor Kantharakorn (Korn) Macharoen on the topic of pilot scale production of rrBChE with 40L bioreactor as well as Eric Knapp on the new Kirin Project.
Jesse Delzio

Jesse received his B.S. in Biochemical Engineer from UC Davis in 2019. He is currently working as a junior specialist continuing research from undergrad toward the development of a novel protein purification platform using engineering viral particles with affinity for the fc region of antibodies and fc-fusion proteins.

Graduate Students

Kirolos (Kiro) Kelada

Kirolos (Kiro) Kelada: Kiro received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering with a specialization in biomolecular engineering from the University of California, Irvine in 2018. He is currently working on developing Techno-Economic Analyses using SuperPro modelling.
Eric Knapp

Eric is a master’s degree student and began working in the McDonald/Nandi lab in January 2019. He is studying the use of Nicotiana benthamiana plant cell suspension cultures for the transient expression of useful proteins. Eric received a B.S.E. in chemical engineering from the University of Iowa.
Kantharakorn (Korn) Macharoen

Korn received a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology and a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. He was awarded a Royal Thai Government Scholarship to study a doctoral degree in Chemical Engineering emphasizing in biomanufacturing of therapeutic proteins. His graduate research focuses on improving the production of recombinant butyrylcholinesterase (rBChE) in transgenic rice cell suspension cultures using bioreactor process optimization and scaling-up the production of rBChE to a pilot scale.
Matt McNulty

Matt received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He previously worked as a process engineer for Sanofi Genzyme. His current research focuses on the technoeconomic analysis of a plant-made antimicrobial for food safety and on developing a novel biologically-derived bioseparations platform.
David Silberstein

David earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering with a biomolecular focus from UCLA in 2012. He then worked as a validation engineer for PSC Biotech in Los Angeles before joining the McDonald group, completing projects at Baxter Bioscience and Neutrogena Corporation. His current research is in optimizing the expression and purification of a human therapeutic protein, Alpha-1-antitrypsin, using a transient expression system in Nicotiana benthamiana.
Yongao (Mary) Xiong

Mary joins McDonald group as a Ph.D student after finishing her undergraduate study in chemical engineering at University of Washington. Her current research is focused on transient expression of a Fc-fusion bioscavenger (CMG2-Fc) in Nicotiana Benthamiana whole-plant through agrobacterium vacuum infiltration, and the effects of N-glycosylation on protein properties. She also studies protein-protein interaction utilizing real-time label-free techniques (Surface plasmon resonance and biolayer interferometry) to quantitatively characterize bioscavenger’s binding kinetics and affinity against its target.
Kevin Yates

Kevin is a first year PhD student in Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Davis. He works in the McDonald-Nandi lab, where he develops recombinant plant cell wall degrading enzymes within the scope of NASA's CUBES project. Kevin earned a BS in Chemical Engineering with minors in Electrical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences from Michigan Technological University.

Undergraduate Students

Seonwon Jung

Seongwon Jung is a Chemical Engineering undergraduate student at UC Davis. He started working in the McDonal-Nandi lab from April 2019. He is currently working on optimizing the production of recombinant butyrylcholinesterase(rBChE) in transgenic rice cell suspension cultures under Kantharakorn Macharoen.
Joshua McMillan

Joshua McMillan is an undergraduate student studying Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Davis. He is assisting with the Techno-Economic Analysis of the production of Thaumatin under the mentorship of Kirolos Kelada
Anika Varma

Anika is an undergraduate honors student, pursuing a double major in chemical engineering and biochemical engineering. She joined the McDonald-Nandi lab in September 2019. She is currently exploring the feasibility of 3D bioprinting with rice cells and tobacco cells, and investigating a dual-fluorescence-based plant viability assay, with help from Min, Korn, and Eric.
Garrett Wesley Barton

Former Lab Members

NameFormer PositionThesis/Dissertation TitleCurrent Position
Lucas ArzolaPost-doctoral Scholar + Graduate Student (PhD)Transient Expression of Recombinant Therapeutic Proteins and Vaccines Using Agroinfiltration in Nicotiana benthamianaDirector of Operations
Puerto Rico Science and Technology Trust
Parallel18 Program
Kalimuthu KaruppananPost-doctoral ScholarPost-doctoral Scholar
Oxford University, UK
Jose Antonio Rocha-ValadezPost-doctoral ScholarBayer CropScience
West Sacramento, CA
Remi ShihPost-doctoral Scholar
Salem AlkanaimishGraduate Student (PhD)Bioprocess Engineering Approaches for Production and Purification of Recombinant Plant Made Human ButyrylcholinesteraseAssistant Professor
University of Kuwait
Elizabeth Anthony GillGraduate Student (PhD)Evaluation of Agrobacteria-mediated Transient Expression of Cell Wall Degrading Enzymes as a Biological Pretreatment Process for Cellulosic Biofuel ProductionDirector of Grid Policy
Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies
Sacramento, CA
Shivaun ArcherGraduate Student (PhD)Effect of Light on the Production of Sulfolipids from CyanobacteriaJohn and Jent Swanson Senior Lecturer
Biomedical Engineering
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY
Nishant BhatiaGraduate Student (PhD)Ribosome Inactivating Proteins from Trichosanthes kirilowii CulturesDirector, Technology and Business Development
Advent Engineering Services
Ching I. ChenGraduate Student (PhD)Analysis and Modelling for the Oscillatory Behavior of Saccharomyces Cerevisia in a Continuous Bioreactor SystemDirector, Process Development and Manufacturing
Tocagen, Inc.
San Diego, CA
Michael CooneyGraduate Student (PhD)Multivariable, Dynamic Model Development for Pure Continuous Cultures of E. Coli and C. UtilisAssociate Researcher
Hawaii Natural Energy Institute
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Honolulu, Hawaii
Jasmine CorbinGraduate Student (PhD)Process Development for the Production of Recombinant Butyrylcholinesterase in Metabolically-Regulated, Transgenic Rice Cell Suspension CulturesScientist, Cell Culture Process Development
Allakos Inc
Seher DagdevirenGraduate Student (MS)Sulfolipid Production from the Cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 in Fed-Batch PhotobioreactorsQC Supervisor
Baxter International
Corey DodgeGraduate Student (PhD)Production of Recombinant Human Gelatin in Transgenic Rice Cell CulturesSenior Staff Scientist
San Diego, CA
Sifti Duhra-GillGraduate Student (MS)Transient Expression of an Anthrax Decoy Fusion Protein in Nicotiana benthamianaAir Resources Board
Sacramento, CA
Iftikar GoharGraduate Student (MS)Numerical Simulation of Natural Convection in Liquid Semiconductor Metals in Modified Bridgman FurnaceVan den Bergh Foods
Columbia, Maryland
Annette HagewiescheGraduate Student (MS)Plan IISenior Engineer
Recovery Sciences
Genentech, Inc.
South San Francisco, CA
Bryce HashimotoGraduate Student (MS)Development of a Transgenic Rice Cell Line for Production of Butyrylcholinesterase: A Protective Bioscavenger against SarinSandia National Laboratories
Kansas City, MO
Ting-Kuo HuangGraduate Student (PhD)Development of Plant Cell Suspension Cultures as a Bioproduction Platform of Recombinant Human Therapeutic ProteinsSenior Engineer
South San Francisco
SangKyu JungGraduate Student (PhD)Agrobacterium-Mediated Transient Expression of Plant Cell Wall Degrading Enzymes in Detached Sunflower LeavesAssistant Professor, Biochemical Engineering
Hongik University
Nathaniel KingsburyGraduate Student (PhD)Selective Recovery from the Interstitial Spaces of Nicotiana speciesSenior Engineer, Late Stage Development
Kite Pharma
Santa Monica, CA
Yen KoGraduate Student (MS)Cyanobacteria Photoproduction in a Stirred ReactorUnknown
Rajesh KrishnanGraduate Student (PhD)The Expression, Localization and Characterization of Recombinant Trichosanthin, a Type I Ribosome-Inactivating Protein, in Transgenic TobaccoDirector, Biologics Process Development
Gilead Sciences
Oceanside, CA
Ingrid LethGraduate Student (PhD)Production of Agrobacterium tumefaciens for Large-Scale Transient Expression of Recombinant Proteins in PlantsScientist I
CBR International
Boulder, CO
Ben LindenmuthGraduate Student (PhD)In Planta Expression of Heterologous Cell Wall-Degrading EnzymesDrug Substance Tech Lead
Bayer Healthcare
Berkeley, CA
Michael LucasGraduate Student (MS)Production Manager
ConAgra Foods
Christine OwlettGraduate Student (MS)Therapeutics from Plant Cell Suspension CulturesDeceased
Sinyoung ParkGraduate Student (PhD)Mammalian Cell Respiration and O2 /CO 2 Transfer in High-density Perfusion Culture with Microsparge Oxygenation and On-line Mass SpectrometryClinical Research Coordinator
Breast Oncology
Stanford University
Stanford, CA
Kirti PatelGraduate Student (MS)Plan IIPresident and CEO
Executive Board Director
Eppendorf, Inc.
Michael PleshaGraduate Student (PhD)Development of a Viral Amplicon-Based Process for Production of Biopharmaceuticals in Plant TissuesPrincipal Scientist, Pilot Plant Lead
Bayer CropScience
Sacramento, CA
Kittipong RattanapornGraduate Student (PhD)Quantitative RNA Analysis and Roles of Viral RNA Silencing Suppressors in Transient Therapeutic Protein Production in Plant Tissues using a Viral Amplicon-Based SystemAssociate Dean for International Relations
Lecturer, Department of Biotechnology
Faculty of Agro-Industry
Kasetsart University
Bangkok, Thailand
Melody (Trexler) SchmidtGraduate Student (PhD)A Cyclical Semi-Continuous Process for Production of Heterologous Proteins in Metabolically Regulated Plant Cell Suspension CulturesSenior Scientist, Recovery Sciences
Genentech, Inc.
South San Francisco, CA
Sara SukenikGraduate Student (PhD)Transient Expression of an Anthrax Decoy Fusion Protein in Glycoengineered Plant Cell Suspension Cultures
Masaru ShiratoriGraduate Student (PhD)Studies of a TMV-Based Expression Vector in Plant Cell CulturesSenior Engineer
Genentech, Inc.
South San Francisco, CA
John ThorupGraduate Student (MS)Purification and Identification of Ribosome Inactivating Proteins from Plant Cell Cultures of Trichosanthes KirilowiiSenior Manager, Process Development
Thousand Oaks, CA
Tiffany TuGraduate Student (MS)Scale-up Simulation of Cellulase Enzymes Production for Biofuel Application: Fungal, Transgenic, and Transient Production of Cellulase EnzymesEngineer
Milpitas, CA
James WongGraduate Student (PhD)Classification of Process Trends Based on Fuzzified Symbolic Representation and Hidden Markov ModelsSenior Software Developer
San Leandro, CA
Qing XieGraduate Student (MS)Recombinant Alpha-1-Antitrypsin Production in Transgenic Tobacco CellsBiocatalytic
South San Francisco, CA
Greg YoungGraduate Student (PhD)Thermal and Stress Analysis of Single Crystal Growth in a Horizontal Bridgman FurnaceEmeritus Professor and Department Chair, Chemical Engineering Department
San Jose State University
San Jose, CA
Liz ZapalacGraduate Student (MS)Purification of Alpha-1-Antitrypsin using a Three-Step Chromatography Process - Factors Effecting Dynamic Binding Capacity, Production Rate and CostsSenior Plant Engineer
Bayer Corporation
Berkeley, CA
Rupak Goswami, PhDVisiting Scholar
Pauline FamyVisiting Scholar
Oscar A. Ortega-RiveraVisiting Scholar
Alexandra Ramirez CelisVisiting Scholar
Trenton SmithVisiting Scholar

Former undergraduate researchers:

Karen has supervised the following students in undergraduate research projects (ECH199, PUFF program, NSF REU, MORE program, McNair Scholars program, NSF LURE, NSF CREATE-REU, UCD GREAT etc.)

An asterisk (*) indicates that the student went on to graduate school

Kostyantyn (Stan) Luferov, Mark Johnson*, Darrell Lewis-Sandy, Sara Stokes, Monica Gomes, Richard Cheung, Caroline Crispino, Tuyen Do, Yvette Mangaladin, Anh Nguyen, Mondana Panymanian, Eunice Tan*, Ruth Chan (MORE), Arlene Adela, James Fred Johnson*, Michelle Bishop*, Rachael Balog, Dave Reichmuth*, Casey Bunker*, Cynthia Buenviaje*, Michael Costello, Nicole Dennis, Richard St. John*, Tracy Horsfield, Yea-Lian Huang, Linda Leong, Khan Nguyen, Katrina Meehan, David Mills*, Phuong Anh Nguyen, Bill Ristenpart* (PUFF), James Corpuz, Chris Humphrey, Michael Stoner*, Devin Eselius, Danielle Coutts, Shaelyn Hurst (McNair Scholar), Ruth Chan, Christine Owlett*, Shane Hall, Annie Chou (MORE), Megumi Noguchi, Tammy Adamson (LURE), Phillip Tuet, Jolie Wu, Mark Sanford, Andrew Tung, Diemchi Nguyen, Jennifer Mikovich, Jeff Luk*, Ming-Wai Chen, Debby Kolbeck, Sandra VanDusen, Kali Campbell, Jennifer Chen, Lo-Ming (Alison) Hong*, David Trombly*, Javier Lacayo, Nathan Parker, Drew Erlich, (Vista) Li, Tammy Chan,  Fareed Rudy Mohammed, Quyen Truong*, Kaushal Parikh*, Stacey Cox*, Michael Cheung, Marisa Harano* (MORE), Yanto Yanto*, Javier Cardenas*, Sinath Prom*, Randy Cross, Yevgeniya Mulina, Jeremy Lee*, Joel Thomas*, Jeffrey Upton, Marissa Roush, Yuchen Gu, Christian Millsop, Helena Keller* (Michigan Technological University) Li Qian (Grace) Bai, Allen Reed, Dane Emmerson, Debika Mitra* (CREATE-REU, Georgia Tech), Anh (Annie) Tran, Junxing (Cici) Chen, Huang (Sunny) Yan, Anna Iris Correa Muler (CREATE-REU, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez), Derrick Hicks* (Integrated Studies Honors Thesis, PUF award), Alexandra Moskaluk * (BioChE Honors Thesis, UC Davis Veterinary School), Thuy Thanh Le*, Jacob Partlow, George Correra, Jerrine Wong, Kaylee Thatcher, Jack Morel, Darwin Constantino, Vincent Reyes, Katie Mains (BioChE Honors), Mathew (Peter) Kedzierski (BioChE Honors), Anthony Tsai * (UC Irvine), Ben Chang (ChE Honors), Zachary Kyser, Aaron Hwong, Kevin Tom (BioChE Honors), Jessie Delzio (BioChE Honors), Jacqueline Kelly, Vuthithorn Chinthammit, Min Du.