Meet the Fellows

The Fellows are distributed among four of UT Dallas’s eight schools, in fields ranging from chemistry to neuroscience and management. Four of them hold National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships (NSF GRF), and collectively the Fellows have achieved to date more than fifty academic publications, numerous patents, and several spin-out companies. Their research collaborations span the globe, and they have mentored dozens of research trainees.

Maria G. Castaneda

Faculty Host: Jiyong Lee, Ph.D.

Maria Castaneda earned a B.S. in biochemistry from the University of Tulsa in 2014. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry. A 2016 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship winner, Maria investigates cancer therapeutics targeting metastasis and relapse.

Gregory T. Ellson

Faculty Host: Walter E. Voit, Ph.D.

Greg Ellson graduated from Georgia Tech in 2014 with a B.S. in mechanical engineering and is pursuing a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering. Greg’s work centers on the development of high-performance photopolymers for 3D printing, bioelectronics, and artificial muscle applications.

David M. Heidtman

Faculty Host: Michael J. Rebello, Ph.D.

David Heidtman earned a B.S. in molecular biology and chemistry at UT Dallas in 2010, and an MBA in finance at the University of Michigan-Flint in 2016. Pursuing a Ph.D. in finance, he researches fraud and corruption, contract design, and game theory.

Jeffrey A. Hullfish

Faculty Host: Sven Vanneste, Ph.D.

Jeffrey Hullfish earned his B.S.E. in acoustical engineering and music from the University of Hartford in 2013 and his M.Sc. in engineering acoustics from the Technical University of Denmark in 2015. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in cognition and neuroscience. Jeffrey uses noninvasive neuroimaging in tandem with computational methods to investigate the mechanisms of normal and disordered perception in humans.

Taek Kang

Faculty Host: Leonidas Bleris, Ph.D.

Taek Kang earned a B.S. in chemical and biomolecular engineering from the Johns Hopkins University in 2009. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. Taek’s research focuses on building and studying biological circuits in mammalian cells to decipher the underlying principles that guide their function.

Eric J. Kildebeck

Eric Kildebeck earned a B.S. in biology from UT Dallas in 2005 as part of the inaugural cohort of Eugene McDermott Scholars. He earned an M.D./Ph.D. in cancer biology and gene therapeutics from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School (Ph.D. mentor: Matthew Porteus, M.D./Ph.D. Stanford University) in 2016. His research centers on therapeutic applications of CRISPR/Cas9 for neurologic and autoimmune diseases.

Salvador Moreno

Faculty Host: Majid Minary-Jolandan, Ph.D.

Salvador Moreno earned a B.S. (2014) and M.S. (2015) in mechanical engineering from UT Dallas and is now at work on a mechanical engineering Ph.D.. A 2015 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship awardee, Salvador studies biomaterials, particularly collagen, for flexible electronics applications.

Benjamin R. Perez

Faculty Host: Walter E. Voit, Ph.D.

Ben Perez graduated from Coe College in 2016 with a B.A. in physics. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in materials science and investigates novel materials for additive manufacturing for a variety of applications.

Jonathan T. Reeder

Jonathan Reeder earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering (2012) and a doctorate in materials science and engineering (2016) from UT Dallas (mentor: Walter E. Voit, Ph.D.). A 2013 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship winner, he researches flexible and stretchable electronics for biomedical applications. After a stint running tech startup Pascalor, Inc., Jonathan is now a postdoctoral fellow with the John A. Rogers group at Northwestern University.

Radu Reit

Radu Reit earned his B.S. in biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech in 2012 and his doctorate in biomedical engineering at UT Dallas in 2016 (mentor: Walter E. Voit, Ph.D.). He won an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2013 for his work developing novel polymers for electronic device applications. Radu is currently the director of research and development at materials research firm Ares Materials.

Jonathan R. Riley

Faculty Host: Michael P. Kilgard, Ph.D.

Jonathan Riley graduated from UT Dallas in 2008 with a B.A. in biology. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in cognition and neuroscience and investigates the mechanisms that govern cortical plasticity and their application to treatment of neurological disorders.

Robert "Joey" J. Steininger

Joey Steininger earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from MIT in 2006 and a Ph.D. in cellular regulation and pharmacology (mentors: Steven J. Altschuler, Ph.D. and Lani F. Wu, Ph.D.) from the University of Texas Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences in 2014. Joey’s work focuses on gene editing applications for allergies and autoimmune disease.

Allison M. Stiller

Faculty Host: Joseph J. Pancrazio, Ph.D.

Allison Stiller earned a B.S. in biomedical engineering from the University of Rochester in 2016. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering with a focus in neural engineering. Her research centers on improving the design of softening intracortical electrodes for mitigating long-term tissue response.

Peng Xie

Faculty Host: Michael Q. Zhang, Ph.D.

Peng Xie graduated from Tsinghua University in 2013 with a B.S. in physics and an M.S. in control science and engineering. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology. Peng’s research focuses on computational biology, gene regulation and machine learning.

Hanqi "Leon" Zhu

Faculty Host: Robert D. Gregg, Ph.D.

Leon Zhu earned B.S. (2011) and M.S. (2013) degrees in mechanical engineering from the Xi’an Jiaotong University. He is pursuing a second M.S. degree and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. Recently an electromechanical engineer at Modbot, Inc., he works on advanced mechatronics systems for application in wearable rehabilitation robots.