Postdoctoral Fellows

Every year, the Beckman Institute offers several postdoctoral fellows programs to support young scientists at the Beckman Institute: the Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows Program, the Beckman-Brown Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellows Program, and the Carle Foundation Hospital-Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows Program.

Created in 2016, the Beckman-Brown Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellowship is named in honor of Dr. Arnold O. and Mrs. Mabel Beckman, who provided the gift that created the Beckman Institute, and Theodore “Ted” Brown, founding director of the Beckman Institute. The Carle Foundation Hospital–Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship was established in 2008 with funding from Carle Foundation Hospital to recruit outstanding young scientists to work on translational biomedical research. Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows are selected for terms of up to three years. Postdoctoral Fellows that are currently working at the Beckman Institute are listed below.

2019 Postdoctoral Fellows

Projects by the Beckman Institute 2019 Postdoctoral fellows cover a variety of topics, from diagnosing and treating breast cancer and osteosarcoma, to better fighting fungal infections, to developing energy-efficient manufacturing methods, to exploring the supramolecular assembly of materials.

Beckman-Brown Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellow

Arun Maji
Maji earned his Ph.D. in chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, in 2018. He plans to leverage the Molecule Maker Lab to design and develop nontoxic amphotericin B. This fungicide is currently used as a last resort against invasive fungal infections, but is so toxic that it can’t be given at doses high enough to eradicate such infections. Around 3 million people around the world are infected each year, and about 50 percent of them die. Maji will work with chemistry professors Martin Burke and Chad Rienstra, and chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Charles Schroeder.

Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows

Julie Hemmer
Hemmer earned her Ph.D. in mechanical and process engineering at Ecole Centrale Nantes, France, in 2018. She’ll study the energy-efficient additive manufacturing of functional composites. Her proposed work will enable a new manufacturing technology that allows net-zero energy fabrication of low-cost functional polymers and composites. Hemmer plans to collaborate with materials science and engineering professor Nancy Sottos, aerospace engineering professor Philippe Geubelle, and mechanical science and engineering professor Narayana Aluru.

Michael Jacobs
Jacobs expects to earn his Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2019. He plans to study the molecular design for the interfacial supramolecular assembly of materials. These materials hold promise for a variety of applications, including energy capture and storage, as well as chemical catalysis. He plans to collaborate with chemical and biomolecular engineering professors Charles Schroeder and Simon Rogers, and mechanical science and engineering professor Narayana Aluru.

Shachi Mittal
Mittal expects to earn her Ph.D. in bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2019. She hopes to improve the treatment of breast cancer by developing digital models using molecular imaging. Her work could provide more detailed diagnoses, identify breast cancer subtypes, and better predict patient outcomes for improved patient care. She plans to collaborate with bioengineering professor Rohit Bhargava, mechanical science and engineering professor Narayana Aluru, and cell and developmental biology professor Supriya Prasanth. She will also working with clinicians from Carle Foundation Hospital and pathology professor Andre Balla from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Fatemeh Ostadhossein
Ostadhossein earned her Ph.D. in bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2019. She’ll explore how nanoparticles can be used in immunotherapy to treat osteosarcoma, a deadly cancer that often affects children. She’ll explore their use in both imaging the cancer, and exploring whether the nanoparticles can enhance radiation therapy. She’ll work with bioengineering professors Dipanjan Pan and Rohit Bhargava, and chemistry professor Jefferson Chan.

2018 Postdoctoral Fellows

Beckman-Brown Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellow

Jamila Hedhli
Hedhli has been named the 2018 Beckman-Brown Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellow. Hedhli received her Ph.D. in bioengineering in May from the University of Illinois. She plans to develop gas-filled “smart bubbles” for ultrasound imaging of ovarian cancer with the ultimate goal of transforming the biomedical imaging landscape through the development of ultrasound probes, which will enable medical practitioners to use ultrasound to accurately diagnose diseases. Hedhli plans to work with Jeff Chan, an assistant professor of chemistry; Wawrzyniec Dobrucki, an assistant professor of bioengineering; King Li, the dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine; and Michael Oelze, a professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Carle Foundation Hospital-Beckman Institute Fellows

Aaron Anderson
Anderson received his Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics in May from the University of Illinois. Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) is uniquely capable of noninvasive imaging the material properties of brain tissue and has proven sensitive to a number of physiological changes and diseases. His research aims to improve specificity through higher-order material models for improved clinical outcomes. He will work with Brad Sutton, a professor of bioengineering, and Dr. Graham Huesmann, a neurologist and epileptologist at Carle Foundation Hospital and a research assistant professor of molecular and integrative physiology at Illinois.

Jianfeng Wang
Wang received his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering in 2017 from the National University of Singapore. In his research, he plans to use cellular-resolution wide-field polarization-sensitive volumetric optical coherence tomography (PSV-OCT) in order to significantly improve the detection sensitivity and specificity of positive breast tumor margins. He will work with Stephen Boppart, Liang Gao, and Minh Do from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Drs. Anna Higham and Kimberly Cradock from Carle Surgical Oncology; and Dr. George Liu from Carle Pathology.

Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows

The 2018 Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows have diverse research interests that span the Beckman research themes:

Kevin Clark
Clark received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Iowa State University in June 2018. His research focuses on developing methods to elucidate with single-nucleotide resolution the functional role of RNA modifications in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disease. He will work with Jonathan Sweedler, a professor of chemistry; Stephanie Ceman, an associate professor of cell and developmental biology; Aleksei Aksimentiev, an associate professor of physics; and Martha Gillette, a professor of cell and developmental biology.

Ryan Hubbard
A 2017 graduate from the University of Illinois, Hubbard received his Ph.D. in psychology. His previous research used novel paradigms and electrophysiological imaging to study prediction in language. As a Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow, Hubbard will use multimodal imaging techniques and advanced signal processing to investigate a cognitive process (event segmentation) that impacts many aspects of human experience, including perception, memory, and language. He plans to work with Lili Sahakyan, an associate professor of psychology; Florin Dolcos, an associate professor of psychology; and Paris Smaragdis, an associate professor of computer science.

Matthew Moore
Moore graduated in 2018 from the University of Illinois with a Ph.D. in psychology. He will work with Brad Sutton, a professor of bioengineering; Gabriele Gratton, a professor of psychology; and Dolcos. He also will collaborate with other Beckman faculty members Aron Barbey, an associate professor of psychology, and Sepideh Sadaghiani, an assistant professor of psychology. His project will help clarify the spatio-temporal dynamics of neural mechanisms underlying socio-emotional functioning using tri-modal simultaneous brain imaging. The resulting data sets will help elucidate the link between complex behaviors and their neural substrates.

Tian “Autumn” Qiu
Qiu graduated in May 2018 from the University of Minnesota with a chemistry. Her current research focuses on how bacterial cells respond to nano-scale materials at molecular levels. At Beckman, her project will use advanced analytical platforms and animal models to understand the “language,” namely signaling molecules, that gut microbiota uses to “talk” with nervous systems in order to delineate the role of gut microbiota in animal brain and health. She will work with Sweedler, Gillette, and Nathan Schroeder, an assistant professor of crop sciences, as well as Huimin Zhao, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

2017 Postdoctoral Fellows

Beckman-Brown Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Fellow

Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows

The 2017 Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows have diverse research interests that span the Beckman research themes. Their research interests include materials science, chemistry, neuroscience, biology, physical fitness, and nanomaterials.

Xing Jiang

Jiang received his Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles, from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and has been working as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois. Jiang proposes to continue his research in microfluidics, in particular by providing a new approach to microfluidic devices by optically generating and controlling patterns for fluid transportation, and to apply these novel devices to the understanding of weak protein-protein interactions in living cells. He plans to work with Martin Gruebele, a professor of chemistry and member of the Nanoelectronics and Nanomaterials Group, as well as Jeff Moore.

Michelle Rodrigues

With a doctorate in anthropology from the Ohio State University, Rodrigues’ research focuses on endocrine and inflammatory correlates of resilience to incorporate neural and epigenetic approaches. At the Beckman Institute, she plans to study resilience in women of color in the sciences, an interdisciplinary project that integrates anthropological, psychological, and biological methods. She will work with Kate Clancy, an associate professor of anthropology, and Florin Dolcos, an associate professor of psychology, both members of the Social and Emotional Dimensions of Well-Being Group; as well as Elizabeth Stine-Morrow.

Benjamin Zimmerman

Currently a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Fatima Husain, an associate professor of speech and hearing science and member of the Mechanisms of Cognitive Control Group, Zimmerman proposes to focus on the cognitive neuroscience of cognitive control in humans using multi-modal neuroimaging. He plans to continue to work with Husain, as well as Monica Fabiani and Gabriele Gratton, professors of psychology and also members of the Mechanisms of Cognitive Control Group; Aron Barbey, an associate professor of psychology, and Sepideh Sadaghiani, an assistant professor of psychology, both members of the Intelligence, Learning, and Plasticity Group; and Florin Dolcos and Brad Sutton.

Postdoctoral Fellows Alumni