Stanford University

Dunn Lab 2022

Dunn Group

Alex Dunn ARDunn_Scholar

Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering

Alex is interested in understanding the complex relations between physical forces and cellular behavior. He enjoys making Archer references in class, drinking homebrewed beer, and entertaining his children, David and James. Check out his CV.



Postdoctoral Fellows

Silas Boye Nissen

Postdoctoral Fellow

Silas studies the mechanisms that underlie the planer cell polarity signaling pathway (in tight collaboration with the Axelrod Lab). You may find him running or biking around campus, or hiking and camping elsewhere in California.

Paul Ruijgrok ARDunn_Scholar

Staff Scientist

Paul is interested in making a malaria rapid diagnostic device using de novo designed protein binders, in collaboration with the Possu Huang Lab. Paul enjoys going on adventures outside, spending time with his kids and hanging out with friends.

Abrar Bhat ARDunn_Scholar

Postdoctoral Fellow

Abrar is investigating the biophysical mechanisms that govern the organization and function of adhesion GPCRs involved in the process of synapse formation. During his PhD at NCBS-Bangalore, he elucidated how active actomyosin dynamics drive spatial patterning of membrane proteins with diverse affinities for cortical actin. Beyond the lab, he cherishes family time, enjoys sipping Chai, and explores philosophy of science.


Chuqiao Huyan ARDunn_Scholar

Postdoctoral Fellow

Chuqiao works on understanding an interesting yet confusing class of molecules named latrophilins (part of them adhere and part of them signal!). She is particularly interested in how they function in neurons. She likes exploring new restaurants and spending time with her dog Dumpling and her cat BunBun, although the dog and the cat never learned to like each other.



Graduate Students

Matt DeJong

Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering

Matt works at intersection of protein engineering and mechanobiology (in collaboration with the Fordyce Lab). He is an avid runner and outdoor enthusiast.

Emma Magee ARDunn_Scholar

Graduate Student, Chemical and Systems Biology

Emma, who is jointly advised with Joanna Wysocka, is interested in understanding the underlying molecular mechanisms of how mechanical force impacts gene regulation to give rise to the many cool things cells can do. She enjoys swimming very early in the morning, eating (and sometimes preparing) yummy food, and spending time with her dog Lucy at the dog park.

Joey Yoniles ARDunn_Scholar

Graduate Student, Biophysics

Joey is developing cryo-ET and CLEM methods with the Dahlberg Lab to investigate the secret life (ultrastructural organization) of cardiomyocytes. He enjoys weightlifting and exploring natural sites in California. He's not sure if he loves or hates that cryo-ET has made him a "de-facto IT guy."


Max Polanek ARDunn_Scholar

Graduate Student

Max is working jointly with Alex Dunn and Matteo Molè, and is working on modeling the human endometrium to study processes of placentation and vascularization in the context of endometriosis. In his spare time, he enjoys practicing the pipe organ in MemChu and going on walks. He previously worked with Brendan Harley under Aliki Kolliopoulos at UIUC.



Distinguished Alumni


Christina Hueschen ARDunn_Scholar

Postdoctoral Fellow

Christina is interested in parasite mechanobiology. What physical and molecular mechanisms drive the motility, tissue penetration, and morphogenesis of parasitic organisms? She likes eating, backpacking, and hanging with her dog, Bear. She will start her own research group as an assistant professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at UCSD in March 2024.


Brian Zhong

Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering

Brian is interested in developing new tools for visualizing forces in biological systems and applying those tools to investigate mechanical processes that underlie brain development. He likes clambering up large rocks and consuming copious amounts of pork belly.

Eva de la Serna

Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering

Eva is interested in expanding spatial understanding of cell organization, signaling, and extracellular matrix interactions using 3D high resolution light microscopy. She enjoys espresso, water color painting, and attempting to cook.

Amy Wang ARDunn_Scholar

Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering

Amy is using the optical trap to characterize force-sensitive adhesion proteins. She enjoys listening to trap music and making a lot of meals at once.


Magnus Bauer ARDunn_Scholar

Postdoctoral fellow

Magnus works on defined clusters of F-actin binding proteins striving to link the single-molecule and cellular world. When he is not in the lab he likes to go running with his newly adopted samoyed dogs. Maybe they also adopted him, we don’t know.

Claudia Vasquez ARDunn_Scholar

Postdoctoral fellow

Claudia is interested in understanding how groups of cells respond to mechanical stimuli. Claudia enjoys chasing after a disc made of plastic, but she does it competitively, so she's one step above a dog. In fact, we rate her a 14/10. Much wow.

Leeya Engel ARDunn_Scholar

Postdoctoral fellow

Leeya uses her microsystems background to build custom cell culture platforms forquantitative cell-cell adhesion studies. She enjoys cafes, cooking Mediterranean style, and exploring new cities.


Kiara Cui

Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering

Kiara is interested in designing fluidic devices for studying mouse development in vitro (in collaboration with the Fuller Lab). She enjoys attempting to make home-cooked meals, admiring cute animals from afar, and decorating places with handmade crafts.

Vipul Vachharajani

Graduate Student, Biophysics
MD/PhD program

When working in lab, Vipul is interested in the mechanics of systems of a few, but not too many, cells. When in lab but not working, he enjoys sassing Cayla. When not in lab, he dabbles in cycling and fruit appreciation (notably, a well-ordered preference list for berries).

Elgin Korkmazhan

Graduate Student, Biophysics

Elgin is studying mechanisms of Wnt signaling and of membrane-actin cortex attachment. He does not mind drinking instant coffee, much to the dislike of his lab mates, and spends too much time at Trader Joe's.


Derek Huang

Graduate Student, Biophysics

Derek is using the optical trap to determine how cooperativity between actin-binding proteins might allow cells to form and maintain cell-cell adhesions. He collects hats, entertains children through science outreach, and has been known, at times, to dance with wild abandon.

Nick Bax

Graduate Student, Biophysics

Nick is using the optical trap to understand the cadherin-catenin complex. Nick hangs around the Weis Lab to keep pushing our understanding on single molecule dynamics. He enjoys cycling very, very quickly, devising outlandish, yet profitable money-making schemes, and topdecking with wild success.

Cayla Miller ARDunn_Scholar

Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering

Cayla is working on understanding how adhesion architecture can affect cellular behavior. Cayla is an enormous fan of all cats and dogs, an avid biker, runner, and swimmer, and an expert at dealing with issues.


Carlos Garzon-Coral ARDunn_Scholar

Postdoctoral fellow

Carlos is devising methods to study the biogenesis of adherent junctions. He is also assembling a lattice light sheet microscope together with the Prakash lab. Carlos is a 3D printer and fit-bit enthusiast, a dog lover, and an expert-level cafecito companion. When he is not modding up his bike, you can find him reading up on science politics.

Leanna Owen

Graduate Student, Biophysics

Leanna worked on understanding cell traction force generation in 3D and now looks at the molecular scale force sensitivity of adhesion molecules. She is a scientific fangirl, an enthusiastic consumer of warm beverages, and a loving caretaker of Luna.

Steven Tan

Postdoctoral fellow

Now at Nautilus Biotechnology. Steven worked on developing new FRET-based force sensors to mimic different extracellular matrix proteins. He spends his time convincing other people to play video games, getting schooled at basketball, and running in really big circles.


Eleftheria Michalaki

Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering

Eleftheria studied how endothelial cells sense fluid flows (in collaboration with the Fuller Lab). She enjoys getting really, really nice haircuts, learning arguably questionable mannerisms from Vinay, and organizing everything to complete perfection.

Andrew Price

Graduate Student, Biophysics

Andrew worked on characterizing cell-cell and cell-substrate mechanics in cell culture. He enjoys forgetting his sunglasses, entertaining absurd, hypothetical situations, and is 40w/v% caffeine. Now a postdoc at Illumina.

Eva Huang

Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering

Eva studied how different environments affect stem cell behavior. She likes bringing her own pair of chopsticks to parties and keeping Steven and Vinay in line. Now at System1.


Vinay Surya

Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering

Vinay was working to understand how endothelial cells sense fluid flows (in collaboration with the Fuller Lab). He enjoys looking at cute dogs, gracing with world with his sonorous voice and squeaky shoes, and fulfilling his role as district manager. Swag. Now at Gilead.

Sarang Nath

Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering

Sarang worked on characterizing extracellular force sensors. He'll spontaneously speak in French, just because he can.

Michael Krieg

Postdoctoral Fellow, Goodman lab

Now a Group leader in Barcelona. Michael was interested in understanding touch sensation in worms and worked closely with the Goodman lab . He loves to climb and enjoys being a boss at everything.


Armen Mekhdjian

Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering

Now at Gilead. Armen was interested in understanding the details of focal adhesion architecture and the mechanisms of focal adhesion assembly. He also worked with the Liphardt Lab to gain insights into the single molecule dynamics of focal adhesions. He excels at being charming, designing intricate handshakes, and observing people compete to hit a ball with a stick as far as possible. Additionally, he fuels his love of competitive gaming by helping to run MobaChampion in his spare time.

Nicolas Borghi

Postdoctoral Scholar, Nelson Lab

Now a group leader at IJM - France

The Borghi lab

Nicolas worked on the elucidating the forces associated to the cadherin-catenin complexes and its communication with the integrin analogs.

Diego Ramallo

Graduate Student, Biophysics

Now a data scientist in the bay area. Diego was interested in examining in cellular myosin activitiy. He enjoys soccer, cracking arguably hilarious puns, and being chill.


Jack Chai

Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering

Now a data scientist at Facebook. Jack worked on examining zebrafish development. He is a connoisseur of foods, a lover of basketball, and the keeper of sunshine.

Masatoshi Morimatsu

Postdoctoral Fellow

Now a Staff scientist at Okayama University - Japan. Masatoshi was interested in discovering new techniques for visualization of cellular forces. He enjoys channeling the Force and mentoring his young padawan, Yuzuki.

Sheil Kee

Postdoctoral Fellow

Now a scientist at Genentech. Sheil worked on understanding the role of cell-cell contacts in stem cells. In her free time, she likes culturing her own personal batch of stem cells affectionately named Ezel.


Alice Chang

Graduate Student, Chemical Engineering

Now a scientist at Five Prime Therapeutics. Alice was working on developing fibronectin-based force sensors to learn about focal adhesions and cellular behavior. She also worked with the Mycrosystems lab engineering new ways to study focal adhesions. She is the climber of all things, a ravisher of delicious foods, and an impeccable organizer of life.

Craig Buckley

Postdoctoral Fellow

Craig worked on elucidating the details of adherens junction proteins through optical trapping. He loves pizza, nighttime, and lasers.

David Altman

Associate Professor, Willamette University

Altman Lab


Maria Sorokina

Graduate Student, Chemistry

Arjun Adhikari

PhD. Chemical Engineering

Natascha Leijnse

Postdoctoral Scholar, Goodman Lab


Austin Lewis

Chemical Engineering

Maggie Ostrowski

PhD. Chemical Engineering

Jonathan Mott

Chemical Engineering


Joyce Chai

Chemical Engineering

Diana Beyerlein

Summer Research Intern

Olga Shcherbakova

Research Associate

Not pictured:

Charlotte Poplawski

Dunn Lab 2016

Dunn Group