Biogel Students

Students working in Biogel Project



Daria Kotlarek was born in Warsaw, Poland. She studied Biotechnology at Warsaw University of Life Sciences. In her bachelor thesis, she worked on the development of new molecular markers for breast cancer diagnosis (Dr. Elżbieta Sarnowska, Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology, Warsaw). During her master thesis, she used fiber optic surface plasmon resonance to establish rapid and sensitive biosensor for detection of pathogens in the food matrices (Prof. Jeroen Lammertyn, KU Leuven). She also gained an experience in single molecule fluorescence techniques at The Institute of Physics, Polish Academy of Science (Dr. Remigiusz Worch). From September 2015, Daria will work within the BIOGEL project on the development of continuous optical biosensor with biocompatible hydrogel (Dr. Jakub Dostalek, Austrian Institute of Technology).


Dominik Bernhagen was born in Lippstadt, Germany and studied Chemistry at Technical University of Dortmund. In his bachelor thesis, he focused on the synthesis and characterization of vesicles via phase transfer (Prof. Dr. Rehage). During his master thesis, he dealt with the synthesis of precursor polymers that form hydrogels by click chemistry (Prof. Dr. Weberskirch). In April 2015, he started to work as a PhD student at Pepscan Therapeutics in Lelystad, Netherlands. Under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Timmerman (Pepscan Therapeutics) and Prof. Dr. Möller (DWI Aachen), Dominik will apply the CLIPS technology, invented at Pepscan, to create high-affinity bicyclic peptides that can be incorporated into hydrogels to create a biomimetic environment for tissue regeneration and incorporation


Irene Buzzacchera

Irene Buzzacchera was born in Vicenza (Italy) on the 8th of March, 1989. She studied Chemistry at Univeristy of Padova (Italy). She took the Bachelor degree with a thesis over the natural antioxidant properties of Rosmarinus Officinalis, under the supervision of Prof. Elisabetta Schievano. During her Master degree she spent a semester studying at University of Groningen (The Netherlands). She graduated cum laude in March 2014. During her Master thesis she worked in the research group of Prof. Fabrizio Mancin and she explored the surface functionalization of organically modified silica nanoparticles (ORMOSIL) for drug delivery applications. From July 2014 until June 2015, she worked as a quality assurance associate at F.I.S. Spa (Vicenza), an italian chemical company focused on the synthesis of API for the pharmaceutical industry. In September 2015 she started her PhD inside the BIOGEL ITN, working at NovioSense BV (Nijmegen, The Netherlands), under the supervision of Dr. Christopher Wilson (NovioSense BV) and Prof. Dr. Möller (DWI Aachen). Her work is centered over the functional hydrogel coatings for long term implantable sensors monitoring type 2 diabetes.


Nestor Gisbert Quilis was born in Alicante, Spain and studied Chemistry at University of Valencia. During his bachelor thesis at Leibniz Universität Hannover, he focused on exploring materials for biodegradable implant and for dressing of wounds (Prof. Dr. Carla Vogt). He joined the Erasmus Mundus Master in molecular nano-bio-photonics for telecommunications and biotechnologies. In master thesis, his main focus was on fabrication of plasmonic nanostructures for biosensing applications (Dr. Jakub Dostalek). As a PhD student at the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), Nestor will investigate the use of responsive hydrogels for plasmonic biosensor under the supervision of Dr. Jakub Dostalek.


 Filippo Cipriani was born in Prato, Italy and he studied Environmental and Industrial Biotechnology at the University of Florence; in his bachelor thesis, he developed a new enantioselective   organic synthesis of acids hydroxypipecolic performing enzimatic kinetic resolution as well (Prof. Ernesto G. Occhiato). He got the Master degree in Molecular and Industrial Biotechnology at the University of Pisa (Italy); his working thesis was based on the possibility to produce VLPs in the model organism S. cerevisiae, for gene therapy applications (Prof. Alvaro Galli). From March 2014, he worked more than one year as a associate research scientist at IMSAS Group-University of Bremen (Germany) where he was the responsible for the preparation of biological samples for Infra-Red analysis performed by a novel sensor (Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael J.Vellekoop). In August 2015, he started to work as a PhD student at Technical Proteins Nanobiotechnology in Valladolid, Spain. Under the supervision of Dr. I. G. de Torre, Filippo will develop multifuntional bioactive hydrogels for tissue repair applications, through design of the gene sequence, bioproduction, purification and characterization of a family of elastin-like recombinamers.


Leander Poocza was born in Bielefeld, Germany and studied Chemistry at Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg. Here his focus was in particular on macromolecular chemistry. In his diploma thesis he investigated the influence of how nano-topography and surface roughness can influence cell shape in the group of Prof. Shastri. This was followed by a period in which he worked as a researcher at the iba Heiligenstadt as a part of the innovaBone Project to generate biocompatible microscale scaffolds by two-photon polymerization. In this project he got in contact with Prof. Dr. Rodriguez Cabello (University of Vallodolid, Spain) and his research on recombinant proteins for distinct extracellular mimicking, under whose supervision he has started his PhD in July 2015, as part of the ITN ‘BIOGEL’. The work will focus on the design of new elastin-like recombinamers (ELRs) to implement a variety of biofunctionalities either by genetic design, or by post-polymerization modification of the ELRs, as well as adapting the mechanical properties of the resulting hydrogels by governing the protein folding and cross-linking patterns.


Marcel van Dongen was born in Didam, The Netherlands and studied Chemistry at Radboud University Nijmegen. In his bachelor thesis, he investigated the relationship between structure and phase behavior of ionic liquid crystals (Prof. Dr. Rowan, Dr. Kouwer). During his Masters, he focused on developing new synthetic methods for hydrophilic ionic liquid crystals. In addition to his chemistry background, he studied Management & Technology in collaboration with AkzoNobel, under the supervision of Dr Van Rooij. In July 2015, he started his PhD BIOGEL project at the DWI Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Martin Möller, where he will design and fabricate actuating hydrogel systems and hydrogel coatings for the interfacing of materials with living organisms.




evgenia tsanaktsidou 2
Evgenia Tsanaktsidou was born in Thessaloniki, Greece. She acquired her Diploma degree in Chemical Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and her Master degree in Pharmaceutical Design and Engineering from the Technical University of Denmark. In her diploma thesis (Auth, Prof. Andreana Asimopoulou) and her master thesis (DTU, Prof. Thomas Ostenfeld Larsen) she worked with natural products and she specialized in Gas and Liquid Chromatography, respectively. In 2016, she worked as research scientist in a biotech company in Copenhagen (MipSalus Aps, Dr. Klaus Gregorius, CEO Nicolas Krogh), focusing on the development of various analytical and purification methods for Molecular Imprinted Polymers. In June 2016, Evgenia started her PhD project at CERTH (Prof. Costas Kiparissides), where she will engineer responsive and biomimetic Hyaluronic Acid hydrogels for cartilage repair.


Luis Guerzoni was born in Itatiba, Brazil and studied Chemistry at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp). During his studies, he worked for 2 years at Momentive Performance Materials as Application Development Technician where he was developing new silicone-based personal care formulations. He pursued his Masters Degree between Paris-Sud and Porto Universities through the SERP-Chem Erasmus Mundus program and his thesis was focused on the development of novel lipid-based neuroprotective drug delivery systems (Dr. Angelova, Institut Galien Paris-Sud). In September 2015, he started working as a PhD student at DWI – Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials, Germany. Under the supervision of Dr. De Laporte and Prof. Dr. Möller, Luis will be working on the production of rod-shaped microgels for different tissue regeneration applications through microfluidic approaches.



Arturo Castro Nava was born in Mexico City, Mexico. He studied physics at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and as part of his Bachelor’s thesis, he computed and analyzed the optical properties of diverse metallic nanoparticles (Prof. Dr. Oliver Y Gutiérrez). In October 2014, he graduated from the Erasmus Mundus Master of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at the KU Leuven, Belgium and the Technische Universität Dresden, Germany. He completed his Master’s degree at OncoRay (Prof. Dr. Dubrovska) and the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research (Dr. Hampel) with a thesis entitled “Development of novel radio-chemotherapy approaches using nanohybrids”.  In August 2015, Arturo started his PhD project at the Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials (Prof. Dr. Möller and Dr. De Laporte), where he will engineer a NIR light-modulated hydrogel system to study how cells and nerves behave to different mechanical cues.



Paula de Almeida was born in Americana, Brazil and received her Bachelors of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Campinas. In her master thesis, she focused on the synthesis of novel sucrose based block copolymers by ATRP, followed by thermal and mechanical characterization, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Maria Isabel Felisberti (University of Campinas, Brazil). In 2015, she worked as a researcher at Solvay, Brazil, focusing on the development of a new synthetic route for obtaining chemicals from renewable raw material. In December 2015 Paula started her PhD at the Radboud University (Nijmegen, The Netherlands), under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Alan Rowan, where she is researching the synthesis and characterization of novel hydrogels with controlled mechanical properties.



Melanie Krüger was born in Hildesheim, Germany. She studied Biochemical Engineering at Technical University of Dortmund. In one of her final research projects, she worked on stabilizing a cell repellant coating for utilization in a microfabricated network formation assay at the Institute for Analytical Sciences – ISAS – e.V. and under the supervision of Prof. Tiller (TU Dortmund). In the working group of Prof. Wichmann, she wrote her thesis about modelling an enzymatic reaction for the production of a fruit ester. In cooperation with the company ThyssenKrupp Electrolysis GmbH, Prof. Wichmann (TU Dortmund) and Prof. Herwig (TU Vienna), she investigated methods to remove carbon compounds from a saline industrial waste stream with the goal of recycling it in an electrolysis process. In September 2015, she started to work for LifeTec Group in Eindhoven (The Netherlands) under the supervision of Dr. ir. Linda Kock. Within the BIOGEL network, Melanie will adapt some of LifeTec’s already existing ex vivo models as well as develop a new ex vivo tissue or organ model, to enable testing of the hydrogels developed by the other partners within the project.


Kaizheng Liu


Kaizheng Liu was born in Harbin, China. He studied Biology at Nankai University. In his bachelor thesis he worked on “The synthesis of a hyaluronic acid hydrogel for controlling cell proliferation” in the laboratory of Prof Jun Yang (The Key Laboratory of Bioactive Materials of Ministry of Education, China). Subsequently he received his master’s degree in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering (with distinction) from University College London in 2015. For the thesis he worked on the project “Monitoring of collagen hydrogel gelation process using a novel tuning-forks MEMS technology” in the laboratory of Dr Laurent Bozec (UCL Eastman Dental Institute). In December 2015 he joined the BIOGEL network as a PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Alan Rowan, Radboud University Nijmegen, focusing on the biological evaluation of novel hydrogels.


Sitara Verdaman 2


Sitara Vedaraman was born in New Delhi, India. She Studied Chemical Engineering in her bachelors in Anna University, Chennai, India and subsequently continued to study Functionalized advanced Materials and Engineering for her Masters in University of Augsburg, Germany and Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. The master was a part of the Erasmus Mundus program between the two universities. For her master thesis research, she worked at the Delft University of Technology, Netherlands on the topic of Magneto-responsive Microgels under Dr.Hab. Eduardo Mendes. In June 2016, she started working as a PhD student at DWI-Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials, Germany. Under the supervision of Dr. De Laporte and Prof. Möller, Sitara will be working on 3D patterned hydrogels for nerve regeneration to treat spinal cord Injury.

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