Graduate Students – Handa Biomaterials Lab

Doctoral Students

Mark Garren

B.S. Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

Mark earned his B.S. in chemical and biomolecular engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2017. As an undergraduate researcher, Mark worked on thiabicyclononane-based hyperbranched polycations for non-viral transfection applications and similar materials for antimicrobial surfaces. With a background heavy in chemical biology, materials chemistry, and bioengineering, Mark has joined the Handa lab to pursue work on NO-releasing polymers with tunable antimicrobial and nonthrombogenic properties for applications in medical devices and wound healing.

Lori Estes

B.S. Biological Engineering, University of Georgia

Lori received her B.S. in biological engineering from the University of Georgia in 2018. In her undergraduate she worked briefly with Dr. Karen Burg fabricating a microscope system to video record cell travel up the channels of a wicking fiber. In her final year she began work in Dr. Handa’s lab assisting research on nitric oxide release of cerium oxide nanoparticles. Outside of academics, Lori was a student leader with The Wesley Foundation, as well as being involved with the Shop With a Bulldawg Committee, and a member of The Arch Society. Her research in Dr. Handa’s lab will be focused on nitric oxide releasing materials in wound healing applications.

Divine Francis

B.S. Chemistry, Emory University


Divine received his B.S. in Chemistry from Emory University in 2018. During his undergraduate career, he spent two years working under Dr. Tim Lian, assisting in the research of nanoparticles with solar energy applications. Divine joins the Handa lab to research novel materials with medical applications.

Rashmi Pandey

B.S. Microbiology
M.S. Biotechnology, Guru Ghasidas Central University, India


Rashmi earned her Master’s in Biotechnology in 2014 from Guru Ghasidas Central University, India. Before joining Dr. Handa’s lab in 2019, she has worked at Aurigene Discovery Technology Limited as a Research Associate since 2014. Aurigene is a drug discovery company located in India. Her research focus was Immunotherapy for cancer. She worked primarily on immune checkpoint modulators, trying to manipulate them as therapeutic agents.

Lauren Griffin

B.S. Biological Engineering, University of Georgia


Lauren received her B.S. in biological engineering from the University of Georgia in 2019. She first joined Dr. Handa’s lab as an undergraduate student because she enjoyed her time in an NSF REU program at the University of Connecticut. Throughout her undergraduate career, she was a part of the UGA Honors College, Terry’s Institute for Leadership Advancement program and served as a teacher’s assistant in many engineering classes. In her free time, Lauren raised two service dogs in training, Basil and River, through the Guide Dog Foundation. Now, she has decided to continue her journey at UGA and will be researching biocompatible coatings for medical implant applications with the Handa Biomaterials Research Lab.

Sarah Wilson

B.S. Biochemistry, Virginia Tech


I received a B.S. in Biochemistry from Virginia Tech in 2020 along with minors in Business Leadership and Chemistry. Throughout my undergraduate career I worked with Dr. A. Jonathan Auguste in an arbovirology lab studying the characterization and transmission of novel viruses stemming from mosquitoes. Most notably, I worked with the Zika virus to develop a safe and effective vaccine platform for emerging flaviviruses. Outside of class I was an active member of my sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, where I held 2 different leadership positions. In my free time I enjoy rock climbing, SCUBA diving, and watching movies.

Yi (Elaine) Wu

B.S. Biological Engineering, University of Georgia


Elaine received her B.S. in biological engineering from the University of Georgia in 2020. During her undergraduate career, she worked under Dr. Craig R. Forest for the automated in vivo patch-clamping robot and sterilization of patching chips. In her final year, she began to work in Dr. Handa's lab on nitric oxide releasing nanoparticles. Elaine has joined the Handa Biomaterial Research lab to pursue work on the hemocompatibility of NO-releasing materials and blood-contacting device coatings.

Patrick Maffe

B.S. Biochemical Engineering, University of Georgia


Patrick received his B.S. in biochemical engineering at the University of Georgia in 2020. As an undergraduate he worked on membrane systems involving droplet induced bilayers to understand the presence of memory in what is called a "memristor" while working in Dr. Eric Freeman's lab. He has decided to join the Handa Lab with the hope of extending his knowledge in biomedical engineering through collaborative work with other lab members.

Vicente Pinon

B.S. Biochemistry, Florida International University

Vicente earned his B.S. in biochemistry from Florida International University. During his undergraduate degree, he obtained experience in computational chemistry research. He joined UGA in 2021 to pursue his Ph.D. in pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences. He is currently studying nitric oxide-releasing materials for medical device applications in the Handa biomaterials lab.

Tia Shorter

B.S. Biological Engineering, University of Georgia

Tia earned her B.S. in biological engineering from the University of Georgia in 2021. During her undergraduate career, she developed an interest in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, and research in biomaterial applications. While in her final year, she began to work in Dr. Handa’s lab where she assisted in research on developing hemocompatible and antimicrobial nitric oxide releasing biomaterials. Tia joined the Handa Biomaterials Research Lab to focus on the biocompatible and antimicrobial properties of gasotransmitter platforms, such as nitric oxide releasing materials, for biomedical device applications. Outside of research, Tia enjoys building puzzles/legos, playing basketball/video games, and is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Natalie Crutchfield

B.S. Materials Science Engineering, University of Central Florida


Natalie earned her B.S. in Materials Science Engineering from the University of Central Florida in 2022. While she was an undergraduate, Natalie focused on researching the development of materials such as lead-free solder alloys and antimicrobial hydrogels for wound healing. The current research Natalie is conducting is the improvement of new biomaterials and therapeutic devices that promote biocompatibility and resist infection. Beyond academics, Natalie enjoys hiking and crocheting in her free time.


Master’s Students

Stephen Thompson

B.S. Biological Engineering, University of Georgia


Stephen received his B.S. in biological engineering from the University of Georgia in May of 2021. During his time at UGA he developed an interest in biomedical research with an emphasis on biocompatibility and biomedical devices. Stephen joined the Handa Biomaterials Lab with the purpose of developing novel materials that have increased utility in the medical field.

Sankeerth Kanumuri



Emme Collett

B.S Biological Engineering, University of Georgia

Emme received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia, during which she worked in the Handa research lab. Her undergraduate research mostly included antibacterial efficacy of Nitric Oxide donating small molecules. Her current research focuses on Diazeniumdiolate synthesis, chemistry, and Nitric Oxide release for biomedical applications.