at UT Dallas


Principle Investigator:

Heather N. Hayenga

Collaborating Investigator:

Clark Meyer, PhD Dr. Meyer is a collaborating investigator in the Vascular Mechanobiology Lab. He received his bachelors and doctorate degrees at Texas A&M, both in Biomedical Engineering. Afterward he completed a 2 year post-doctorate in Marseille, France. Then he returned to the states to work at the food and drug administration (FDA) as a commissioner’s fellow for 2 years. Currently Dr. Meyer is characterizing the wall mechanics as arteries remodel due to atherosclerosis. Dr. Meyer is also teaching Introduction to Bioengineering and will teach finite element analysis (FEA) in the Fall of 2014.
Stefano Leonardi, PhD Dr. Leonardi received his Masters in Aerospace Engineering and PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at the Sapienza University of Rome. He is currently an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas. Dr. Leonardi’s research interests include computational fluid mechanics, turbulence, super hydrophobic surfaces, drag reduction, wind energy and heat transfer. Dr. Leonardi is a collaborating investigator with the Vascular Mechanobiology Lab. Currently he is characterizing the fluid mechanics as arteries remodel due to atherosclerosis.

Research Associate:

Veena Naik, PhD Dr. Naik received her doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from University of Queensland Australia where she developed bovine embryo assays to examine the effects of heat shock on embryo development and survivability. Dr Naiks background is in Veterinary Science, with a Bachelor and Masters degree from Bombay Veterinary College India. As a postdoc at the University of Washington Seattle, Department of Comparative Medicine she studied the pathobiology of aging and diseases related to it. Using transgenic, knockout and allele replacement mouse models she studied the effects of reactive oxygen species on DNA repair, premature aging and colorectal cancer development. As a Senior Fellow at Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington Seattle, and studied lineage reprogramming of smooth muscle cells and signaling pathways involved in matrix calcification of the cardiovascular system. She also worked on two collaborative projects to determine the role of diabetes and metabolic syndrome in cardiovascular disease and investigated the signaling pathways involved in ectopic calcification of cardiac valves. For the past one year she has been studying scientific computing language with the aim to develop a computational model of cardiovascular disease progression. She joined UT Dallas as Postdoctoral Research Associate in spring of 2014. Upon completion of her post doctoral research she hopes to become a Professor.

Graduate Students:

Rita Bhui Rita is currently a PhD student in the Physics department at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is using multiscale modeling techniques to develop a model to predict arterial growth and remodeling during atherogenesis. Her focus is on correctly modeling the fluid dynamics as the stenosis evolves. Upon graduation she hopes to return to India and become a Professor in the Physics Department.
Neil Dorsey Neil is currently a Masters student in the Bioengineering department at the University of Texas at Dallas. His projects involve understanding how mechanical stimuli elicit biological responses in cells and arteries. First he is using image processing techniques to determine the mechanical properties of arteries from intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) images. Understanding the mechanical properties of arteries in-vivo will aid researchers in developing models to predict the growth and remodeling of arteries as well as physicians in determining the correct treatment option. Second he is studying the cellular interactions to implantable materials (such as graphene). Knowing how cells respond to materials and loads will also provide researchers with the information needed to create more compatible devices. Neil is exploring career paths to conduct research in academia as well as industry.
Maziyar Keshavarzian Maziyar is a Masters student in the Bioengineering department of UTD. He received his Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Tarbiat Modares University in Iran and has worked on several projects in the field orthopedic biomechanics. His research at TMU was primarily focused on determination of strength levels and failure patterns of human femur using image-based FEA and experimental tests. Maziyar will try to implement his prior experience in finite element modeling and CFD simulations to develop multi-scale models of arteries. These models can be used both as a prognosis and a diagnosis tool for cardiovascular diseases.

Undergraduate Students:

Preston Butler Preston Butler is a current freshman pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering at UT Dallas. He graduated as Salutatorian of his class from Maryville High School in Maryville, Tennessee, before coming to UT Dallas as a 2014 McDermott Scholar. In the Vascular Mechanobiology Lab, Preston is studying the behavior of macrophage cells on substrates of varying stiffness. This is Preston’s first experience in a research lab, and he is eager to dive into his work. Upon graduation from UT Dallas in 2018, Preston plans to obtain a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering. In his free time, he enjoys playing his trumpet, reading, and playing a game of volleyball or tennis with his friends.
John Hamati John graduated valedictorian of his class at Garland High School with an International Baccalaureate diploma and is currently a B.S. Biology and Business Administration student and National Merit Finalist in his senior year at the University of Texas at Dallas. In the past at UTD, he has been a teaching assistant for Biochemistry I, and seeks to apply his love for science to help others. Upon graduation, he hopes to continue his education by attending medical school and ultimately wishes to practice medicine in the state of Texas. Outside of school, he is a math instructor for students from pre-K to high school, a middle child, a car fanatic, a soccer aficionado, and a traveler who has spent time across the United States, Europe and the Middle East.
Joey McFarland I am currently pursuing a B.S. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas. Upon graduation in 2015, I intend to advance into the biomedical applications of electrical engineering, whether that is through a graduate program or working in the industry. I hope to one day use my knowledge and experience to make advances in the fields of medical devices and imaging. My current research project involves the development of an animal model and imaging techniques for the mechanical characterization of atherosclerotic plaques with elastography. I found my passion for the medical field while working as an Emergency Medical Technician. Through my participation and leadership in extracurricular organizations, I have received opportunities to serve local communities as well as abroad communities through medical missions to Peru. Additionally, I gained international experience while studying abroad in Germany and Poland. Outside of education and research, I enjoy working as a math instructor, playing the guitar and piano, staying active through sports, and traveling.
Melanie Maurer Melanie Maurer is a junior pursuing a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas. She graduated as valedictorian of her class at Richmond-Burton Community High School in Richmond, IL, in 2012 before coming to UTD as a part of the McDermott Scholars Program. For the past two years, she has researched at UTD, Georgia Tech, and the University of Tübingen in Germany, and has gained experience in materials science, stem cell engineering, and cancer technologies, among other areas. She presented posters at two Biomedical Engineering conferences in 2013, received a Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention in April of 2014, and will give an oral presentation at the BMES Annual Meeting in October of 2014. Upon graduation from UTD, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering. Melanie is currently studying macrophage proliferation as a function of substrate stiffness. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, running, volunteering, and watching Grey’s Anatomy.
Stephanie Kubecka Hello, my name is Stephanie Kubecka and I'm from Cypress, Texas, just Northwest of Houston, where I graduated with honors and distinction from Cypress Woods High School in 2012. I'm currently in my Sophomore year at UTD studying for a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science planning to graduate in the spring of 2016. I plan to also obtain a Masters in Biomedical Engineering after undergad. For me, the deciding factor in choosing a degree in biomed, is that I love all types of biology and also solving puzzles so this path seemed like the best of both worlds, in my opinion. In my free time, I enjoy watching movies, solving puzzles (I'm especially hooked on rubric's cubes right now), running, and hanging out with friends.
Sanyukta Bihari My name is Sanyukta Bihari and I am a freshman Biomedical Engineering Major at UT Dallas. I am also leaning towards pre-med with a deep interest in Cardiac Surgery. I am from Plano and I attended Plano West Senior High School, graduating in the top 10% of my class. I was involved in several clubs and organizations during my high school career, the most important being French Club and Orchestra. I began taking French in 6th grade and instantly fell in love with the language as well as the culture. I participated in the National French Exam in my freshman, sophomore, and junior years of high school and was placed in the top 10% in the nation. I plan to extend my interests in the French culture by minoring in French Language. I was also a violinist in my middle school and high school orchestras. Apart from being concertmaster of the 9th grade Philharmonic Orchestra and being part of the prestigious Chamber Orchestra, I was also involved in organizing events for Orchestra by holding the title of Junior Orchestra Officer. Playing the violin is a mode of relaxation for me and I continue to practice in my free time. Currently at UTD, I am involved on campus by being a part of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) as well as HOSA. I am very glad to be a part of the research team led by Dr. Hayenga. I learned about her Vascular Mechanobiology Lab in the SWE meeting and instantly became interested in becoming a part of the lab. I will be contributing to the research process by reading and providing analysis on literature related to Vascular Mechanobiology and vascular diseases.
Arri Morris Arri is currently pursuing his bachelors in biomedical engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas. Arri is developing a multiscale computational model to predict arterial remodeling under diseased conditions. Specifically, Arri is determining “rules” or programmable functions to dictate how agents or cells will respond to mechanical and chemical stimulus. He is also involved in various organizations at UTD and is a passionate writer. He recently published a book titled, “As Close to a Love Story as I’ll Ever Get.” Arri aspires to start a company after graduating from UTD.