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Previous lab members

Past members who graduated from the lab. Not always up-to-date on where they are now—hard to keep up with the lot of them!

Previous graduate students

Talia Weiss

Ph.D. 2022

 

Talia was a graduate student in Engineering Mechanics in BEAM, studying locomotion at the water interface in animals.  Talia earned her bachelor's in bioengineering from the California Institute of Technology. She was also a member of the BIOTRANS program.

Mal Graham

Ph.D. 2022

Mal was a Ph.D. student in the Engineering Mechanics program in BEAM, studying the gap-crossing movements of flying snakes. Mal earned a bachelor's degree in physics and philosophy from Oxford University. They are currently the executive director of Wild Animal Initiative, a nonprofit organization that promotes research into wild animal welfare.

Jack Whitehead

Ph.D. 2020

 

Jack was a PhD student in Biology, studying the biological bases of navigation in birds and insects. Jack earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Juniata College. He is co-advised by Dr. Ignacio Moore of Biological Sciences. Jack was also a member of the BIOTRANS program. He is currently an adjunct instructor for anatomy and physiology at Ohio University. 

Dr. Melissa Kenny

Ph.D. 2019

Melissa earned her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, studying the biomechanics of circulatory- and respiratory- related internal flows in insects. Melissa earned a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from Cornell. As a member of the interdisciplinary BIOTRANS program, she was co-advised by Dr. Mark Stremler. She is now a Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Engineering at Wake Forest University.

Dr. Isaac Yeaton

Ph.D. 2018

 

Isaac earned his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering, studying the mechanics of flying snakes. Isaac also earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in applied math from the University of New Hampshire. He was co-advised by Dr. Shane Ross. Isaac was also a member of the BIOTRANS program. Click here for Isaac's home page.

Dr. Farid Jafari

Ph.D. 2017

 

Farid earned his Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics, studying the mechanics of flying snakes. He is currently a visiting professor at Grand Valley State University in the Mechanical Engineering department.  Farid earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from Sharif University of Technology.   

Joel Garrett

Ph.D. 2020

 

Joel was in the Biomedical Engineering program in the BEAM department, studying insect biomechanics and bio-inspired engineering.  Joel earned bachelor's and master's degrees in biomedical engineering from Georgia Tech and Duke University. He was also a member of the BIOTRANS program. Click here for Joel's web site.

Dr. Khaled Adjerid

Ph.D. 2019

Khaled earned his Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics, studying the mechanics of the insect tracheal system.  He earned bachelors and masters degrees in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech and spent time in industry as well. He was a member of the BIOTRANS program, and was co-advised by Dr. Raffaella De Vita. He is currently a postdoc working on chewing biomechanics with Dr. Rebecca German at Northeast Ohio Medical University. 

Dr. Matt Giarra

Ph.D. 2017

 

Matt received his Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering, studying methodologies for fluid mechanics, including circulation in insects. Matt has ME degrees from the Rochester Institute of Technology and U. Alabama Hunstville.  Matt’s primary advisor was Dr. Pavlos Vlachos (Purdue), and Dr. Socha was his co-advisor, as part of the interdisciplinary MultiSTEPS program (an NSF program that is now called BIOTRANS).

Dr. Hodjat Pendar

Ph.D. 2014

 

Hodjat received his Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech, studying insect biomechanics. He is currently a research assistant professor in our department (BEAM) at Virginia Tech. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from Sharif University. 

Masters students: coming soon...

Previous postdocs

Mary Salcedo

NSF Postdoctoral fellow

Dr. Salcedo was a postdoc in the lab from 2019-22, supported by an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology (PRFB). Mary earned her Ph.D. in the Department of Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, co-advised by L. Mahadevan and Stacey Combes (U.C. Davis), studying the biomechanics of insect wings. She did her bachelor's degree in biology at U. Washington, and at one point worked with Tom Daniel. Mary worked on wings of grasshoppers and cicadas in our lab, and is currently a postdoc at Cornell.

Her web site

Dr. Shaz Zamore

NSF Postdoctoral Fellow

 

Shaz was a postdoc in the lab from 2015-18, supported by an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology (PRFB). Shaz received a BS in biology from Cornell and a Ph.D. in neurobiology and behavior at U. Washington, co-advised by Adrienne Fairhall and Tom Daniel, studying how mosquitoes navigate convective plumes. Shaz worked on flying snakes in our lab, and is currently a faculty member at CU Boulder.

Undergraduates

We've had great participation and help from undergraduates in the lab over the years. There are so many of them, they deserve their own page. Find them here.

Teachers

Amanda Barnes

High school teacher

Amanda teaches science at Breckenridge Middle School in Roanoke, VA. She is doing research in the lab on the viscosity of insect hemolymph through our NSF RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) program "Biomechanics from molecular to organismal scales." 

Pam Tegelman Malabad

High school teacher

Pam teaches earth science at Giles High School in Pearisburg, VA, and intro biology at New River Community College. She did research on insect hearts through our NSF RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) program "Biomechanics from molecular to organismal scales." 

Dawn Hakkenberg

High school teacher

Dawn teaches math at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, VA and intro biology at New River Community College. She did research on skittering frogs through our NSF RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) program "Biomechanics from molecular to organismal scales."

Phil Hernandez

High school teacher

Phil (right) taught biology at William Fleming High School in Roanoke, VA. He was conducting a new research project on flying snake tongue flicking, as part of our NSF RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) program "Biomechanics from molecular to organismal scales." Prior to teaching, he was a in the Peace Corps in South Africa.  He is currently a Ph.D. student at Stanford University.

Michael Collver

High school teacher

Mr. Collver teaches science and technology at Blacksburg High School in Blacksburg, VA. He worked with Dr. Sharri Zamore to set up a new snake vision experiment as part of our NSF RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) program "Biomechanics from molecular to organismal scales." He is the lead teacher for the district-wide FIRST Robotics Competition team, Team 401 Copperhead Robotics.  

Nitika Sood

High school teacher

Nitika taught math at Pulaski High School in Pulaski, VA. She was measuring mechanical properties of insect tracheal tubes as part of our NSF RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) program "Biomechanics from molecular to organismal scales." Prior to teaching, Nitika lived and worked in Kenya for a decade.  

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