Lab Members

Principal Investigators

Karen McDonald, PhD
Biographical Sketch

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

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

Project Scientists

Imran Khan

Imran Khan received PhD fellowship from German Academic and Exchange Service (DAAD) for his doctoral study at Institute for Molecular Biotechnology, RWTH Aachen University, Germany. He also served Vienna Institute for Biotechnology, Vienna, Austria, as researcher where he investigated expression and targeting of recombinant proteins in plant tissues. He also received research funding as PI and supervised PhD and master students working as Assistant Professor at Center for Interdisciplinary Research, Islamabad, Pakistan. He completed his postdoctoral study from University of Bonn, Germany that was also funded by DAAD, Germany. In 2019, Imran received Penn Biomedical Postdoctoral fellowship for postdoctoral study at School of Dental Medicine at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA, where he worked on oral delivery of plant made biopharmaceuticals using Chloroplast production system, in collaboration with Takeda, Japan. He joined Dr. McDonald/Nandi lab in 2021 at University of California, Davis, USA, as Project Scientist. His current research focus on development of platform technologies for bio-manufacturing on Mars to provide food and pharmaceuticals for colonists, funded by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA.


Seongwon (Steve) Jung

Seongwon Jung is a Junior Specialist. He earned B.S. in Chemical Engineering at UC Davis and started working in the McDonald-Nandi lab in April 2019. He previously worked as a process engineer for optimizing the production of recombinant butyrylcholinesterase(rBChE) in transgenic rice cell suspension cultures under Kantharakorn Macharoen. He is currently working on the COVID project to produce ACE2-Fc fusion proteins which are promising targets for a COVID-19 therapeutic.
Liber McKee

Graduate Students

Katherine (Katie) Haddad

Katie joins as a PhD student in the biomedical engineering graduate group after earning her B.S. in biomedical engineering from the University of Oklahoma. Her graduate work focuses on developing a platform for rapid production of plant-made biologics.
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.
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.
Patrick Negulescu

Patrick is a first-year PhD student in the Chemical Engineering Department at UC Davis. He earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering at UC Berkeley. His current research in the McDonald-Nandi lab is developing techno-economic analyses.
Brandon Pizarro

Brandon is a first-year masters student in the Chemical Engineering Department at UC Davis. He earned his B.S in Chemical Engineering at UC Irvine and previously worked as a packaging engineer/label process lead at Johnson & Johnson. His current research in the McDonald-Nandi Lab focuses on immobilizing transgenic rice cells in a hydrogel for scalable production of recombinant butyrylcholinesterase.
Justin Wong

Justin is a first year PhD student in the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of California, Davis. He earned his B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University and worked as a bioprocess development engineer for Synlogic before returning to school. His current work focuses on using plant cell suspension cultures to produce cell cultured meat.
Kevin Yates

Kevin earned a BS in Chemical Engineering with minors in Electrical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences from Michigan Technological University. He has a strong interdisciplinary background from his time working in a variety of industries. His PhD research involves the production of pharmaceuticals in transgenic plants within the scope of the NASA CUBES project.

Undergraduate Students

Dylan Estrada

Dylan is an undergraduate student pursuing a chemical engineering degree. His current work involves the development and optimization of a novel hand-powered centrifuge for limited resource environments.
Olivia Hart

Olivia Hart is an undergraduate student majoring in Global Disease Biology and minoring in Neuroscience at UC Davis. She is currently working on analyzing variant plant nanoparticle vectors and predicting their functionality based off of their structure and ligands.
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 immobilizing transgenic rice cells in a hydrogel for rapid, scalable production of recombinant butyrylcholinesterase.
Stephan Alfaro

Stephan Alfaro is an undergraduate student majoring in Biochemical Engineering. His current research is in the utilization of rice cells in cultured meat production.

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 ProductionElectric Generation System Specialist at California Energy Commission, 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 in Microbiology)Analysis and Modelling for the Oscillatory Behavior of Saccharomyces Cerevisia in a Continuous Bioreactor SystemCurrently an Independent Consultant to Biotech Industry
Formerly Director, 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. UtilisTenured 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 CulturesDirector, Upstream Process Development, Molecular Templates, Austin, TX
Sifti Duhra-GillGraduate Student (MS)Transient Expression of an Anthrax Decoy Fusion Protein in Nicotiana benthamianaTechnician II, California Air 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
Kirolos (Kiro) KeladaGraduate Student (MS)Techno-Economic Analysis and Probabilistic Risk Assessment of Intensely Sweet Protein Thaumatin Large-Scale BioproductionProcess Technology Intern
E. & J. Gallo Winery
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
Kantharakorn (Korn) MacharoenGraduate Student (PhD)Process Intensification and Scale-up of Metabolically Regulated Rice Cell Culture Bioreactors for Biopharmaceutical ApplicationsLecturer
KMUTT Thailand
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
David SilbersteinGraduate Student (PhD)Process Development and Characterization of Plant-Made, Oxidation Resistant, Recombinant Alpha-1 AntitrypsinScientist I
BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc.
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
Yongao (Mary) XiongGraduate Student (PhD)Process Development and Characterization of Plant Recombinant Fc-Fusion TherapeuticsScientist I, Downstream Process Development
LakePharma, Inc.
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
Hiroto HiranoVisiting 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

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, Joshua McMillan, Garrett Barton, Kostyantyn (Stan) Luferov,