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Pritzker Fellowship

Pritzker Fellowship in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering

The purpose of the Pritzker Institute Fellowship Program is to facilitate stable financial support for highly qualified Illinois Tech doctoral students pursuing thesis work in the field of Biomedical Science or Biomedical Engineering. The fellowship aims to attract, recognize and assist superb students with strong academic credentials and demonstrated potential for meritorious research whose doctoral thesis will be supported through funded research focused on clinical translation of biomedical science and engineering of Illinois Tech faculty mentor(s).

Pritzker Fellowship Recipients


Rayan AbdulhadiRayan Abdulhadi

PhD Candidate
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Advisor: Dr. Georgia Papavasiliou

Rayan completed her B.S degree in 2020 with a focus on biophysics. Prior to coming to Illinois Tech, she conducted summer research at the Nuclear Physics Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences where she gained experience in the computational and experimental analysis of carbon ion therapy. She then joined Dr. Papavasilou and Dr. Vaicik lab in the fall of 2020. Her doctoral thesis work, supported through the Pritzker Fellowship Program, focuses on engineering 3D scaffolds of mesenchymal stem cells with highly controllable gradients in biochemical composition to aid in the restoration of the bone/cartilage interface.

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Pritzker Fellowship Recipients


Austeja StaneviciuteAusteja Staneviciute

PhD Candidate
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Advisor: Dr. Marcella Vaicik & Dr. Georgia Papavasiliou

Austeja Staneviciute graduated with a coterminal degree from Illinois Tech in 2020 with a B.S in biomedical engineering and M.S in chemical engineering. As a student, she gained a broad range of research experience, from medical tool design to medical imaging. She spent two years volunteering in Dr. Vaicik’s and Dr. Papavasiliou’s laboratories and found great interest in the cell and tissue engineering field. Thus, when she was awarded the Pritzker Fellowship, she decided to continue her work with her two research advisors. Her PhD will focus on the development of a 3D in vitro mesenchymal stem cell laden tissue model to aid in the restoration of the bone/cartilage interface.

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Read: Austeja Staneviciute Receives Prestigious NSF Graduate Fellowship Award


Jacob GoesJacob Goes

PhD Candidate
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Advisor: Dr. Keigo Kawaji

I received my bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Northern Illinois University in 2018. I then joined the Biomedical Engineering PhD Program at Illinois Institute of Technology and, have been working in Dr. Keigo Kawaji’s lab. I will be contributing to the lab’s overall goals of addressing challenges associated with heart disease, neurovascular stroke and, diabetes. Through the Pritzker Fellowship, my training will include Magnetic Resonance Imaging systems development, as well as, design and, validation of novel instrumentation applications using mathematical approaches including methods incorporating artificial intelligence.


Jessica LanglaisJessica Langlais

PhD Candidate
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Advisor: Dr. David Mogul

I graduated with a B.S. in bioengineering from the University of Maine at Orono in 2015. As an undergraduate, I participated in research focusing on gold nanoparticle stars for the field of medical imaging. I was awarded the Pritzker Fellowship in 2017 and, I began my PhD in biomedical engineering, as well as, research in Dr. David Mogul’s lab. My research focuses on the brain activity that occurs during epileptic seizures in an effort to extinguish seizures without the use of pharmacological agents. I use a mathematical analysis to model multisite electrical stimulation of the epileptic brain in order to disrupt the feedback loop occurring during seizure activity in epileptic rats.

Gina QualterGina Qualter

Graduate Research Assistant
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Advisor: Dr. Eric Brey

My name is Gina Qualter and, I grew up on the Southside of Chicago. When I started my undergraduate career at the Illinois Institute of Technology, I began as a premedical student. However, I became involved with laboratory work in the biology department, my freshman year, and, developed a passion for research. I decided to continue pursuing this passion by applying for the co-terminal program where I earned my M.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology. My undergraduate and, thesis projects, both, revolved around improving tissue engineering for increased cell viability and, I presented my work at the Chicago Area Research Symposium. I was also asked to join the lab of Dr. Mahima Saxena in the I/O Psychology department where I assisted in data entry, research, and analysis. I am currently listed on a pending publication with her. Outside of research, I have been actively involved in IIT’s Student Government Association, Student Gift, Greek Life, athletics and, volunteering. I am very excited to be continuing my education at IIT under the mentorship of Dr. Brey.



Rachel BrandtRachel Brandt

Graduate Research Assistant
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Advisor: Ali Cinar

Rachel Brandt earned a B.S. in biomedical engineering from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2016. As an undergraduate student she participated in a research program at MD Anderson Cancer Center focusing on triple negative breast cancers. After graduation she began Ph.D. studies at Illinois Tech in August 2016, when she was also awarded the Pritzker Fellowship. She is currently a graduate research assistant in Ali Cinar’s lab, working on characterizing how sleep effects blood glucose levels to aid in the development of a multivariable closed loop artificial pancreas.

Nicole FrantzNicole Frantz

Graduate Research Assistant
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Advisor: Ali Cinar

Nicole Frantz graduated with a B.S. in biomedical engineering from Illinois Tech in 2016. At the end of her first year of undergraduate studies, she began volunteering in Ali Cinar’s lab. When she was awarded the Pritzker Fellowship in May 2016, she chose to continue her research with Cinar. Her Ph.D. research is focused on the development of an artificial pancreas that can accommodate the effects of different forms of physical activity automatically for people with Type 1 diabetes. Her key focus is on the development of algorithms capable of classifying the forms of physical activity and their intensity as well as predicting their effects on glucose decline specific to each individual.


Henry M. GongHenry M. Gong

Graduate Student
Department: Biology
Advisor: Thomas C. Irving

Henry M. Gong received his B.S. in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 2014. He took a year off to work as a microbiologist before deciding to pursue higher degree. He was admitted to Illinois Tech as an M.S. student in fall 2015 and transferred to the Ph.D. program studying under Thomas Irving in spring 2016. He is currently working on a project to understand the physiology, proteotomic, transcriptomic, and genomic of three different organisms. These three organisms are Manduca Sexta (moth), Pachidyplax Longipennis (dragonfly), and Perithemis tenera (dragonfly). The data will be compared between the moth and the dragonflies. The end goal of this project is to find out the structural and biochemical adaptations that drive striated muscles to be either synchronous or asynchronous.

Robert David JacksonRobert David Jackson

Graduate Research Assistant
Department: Chemical and Biological Engineering
Advisor: Ali Cinar

Robert David Jackson earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2015. He was born and raised in Chicago, and wanting to return home, he began his Ph.D. studies at Illinois Tech in January 2016. He was awarded the Pritzker Fellowship near the end of his first semester as a Ph.D. student. He is currently working on agent-based modeling of Chinese hamster ovary cells in a bioreactor. He is an applicant for the 2017 NSF Fellowship. Jackson presented a poster at the 2016 National Institute for Pharmaceutical Technology and Education Conference at the FDA Building in Silver Spring, Maryland. He is vice president of the NSBE–Illinois Tech Chapter and founder of the Bio-Engineering Journal Club.


Amy RiceAmy Rice

Research Assistant
Department: Physics
Advisor: Jeff Wereszczynski

As an undergraduate student in the molecular biochemistry and biophysics program at Illinois Tech, Amy Rice participated in a broad range of research experiences in both traditional biology and physics applications—from fruit fly coagulation to photocathode design. After receiving her B.S. in 2014, she realized that the intersection of biology and physics was of greatest interest to her; she found her research passion as a Ph.D. student in Jeff Wereszczynski’s Computational Biophysics lab at Illinois Tech. She uses molecular dynamics simulations to study the interactions of pharmaceutical drugs and small molecules with model bacterial cell membranes. Joining Wereszczynski’s lab in 2014 and receiving the Pritzker Research Fellowship in 2015 have helped cultivate her abilities as a researcher. She won the annual College of Science research poster presentation contest two years in a row, presented her research at the 2016 Biophysical Society Annual Meeting, and authored two research articles that are being prepared for publication.


Veronica TorresVeronica Torres

Ph.D. Candidate
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Advisor: Kenneth Tichauer

Veronica Torres completed her undergraduate studies in biomedical engineering with a specialization in neural engineering at Illinois Tech. During that time she participated in the Program for Undergraduate Research Education, in which she worked on a project under the mentorship of Kenneth Tichauer at the Medical Imaging Research Center with the goal of improving neurosurgical guidance techniques for gliomas with fluorescence imaging. This work was conducted along with Richard Byrne, M.D., head of neurosurgery at Rush University Medical Center. Because of this collaboration, she realized exactly how impactful the development of new medical technologies and practices could be. Motivated by the clinical potential for fluorescence image-guided surgery in the brain, she decided to further her education through graduate studies. With the Pritzker Institute Fellowship, she was able to continue at Illinois Tech. At Illinois Tech her research is focused on fluorescently highlighting cranial nerves to prevent unnecessary errors and complications during neurosurgery.