The Plaxco Group


We moved to the new Bioengineering building. Spring 2017


Prof. Kevin W. Plaxco

Kevin Plaxco
3002 Bioengineering Building
(805) 893-5558 (phone)
(805) 893-4120 (Fax)
Institutional website:

My lab studies protein folding and biomolecular engineering. Our goal in these endeavors is both an improved understanding of the folding process and an ability to apply this rapid, highly specific, highly cooperative self-assembly process to the development of nano-scale electronic sensors and adaptable materials.

See Research page for more info.

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Postdoctoral Scholars and Fellows

Martin KurnikMartin
Ph.D. ’13 from the University of Stockholm in Sweden in Biochemistry
mkurnik (at)

I am developing a new, quantitative approach for measuring how proteins and nucleic acids interact with different artificial surfaces, including biomimetics. The resulting experimentally derived models of surface-interaction thermodynamics will facilitate design of new, optimally biocompatible materials for implants, tissue engineering scaffolds, drug delivery nanoparticles, biosensors, and other biotechnologies. My work also has a fundamental scientific motivation: we cannot comprehend the molecular biology of the cell without understanding how its contents remain in solution despite proximity to a multitude of membrane surfaces.

Netzahualcóyotl ‘Netz’ Arroyo
Otis Williams Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D. ’15 from University of Texas Austin in Chemistry
narroyo (at)

My research focuses on the development of electrochemical-aptamer based sensors (E-AB sensors) for the real-time, continuous monitoring of target molecules in undiluted whole blood and brain tissue in vitro and in vivo. The dream goal of my project is to achieve time resolved measurements of pharmacokinetics in the brain.

Philippe Dauphin Ducharme
Ph.D. ’15 from McGill University in Chemistry
pducharme (at)

I am working in expanding the ability of the electrochemical-DNA (E-DNA) biosensors to detect a wide variety of ions such as Na+, K+, adenosine triphosphate and even small molecules such as glucose and cholesterol! This is done by using non-covalent interaction and principles of supramolecular chemistry. Eventually, the goal of this project would be to test this new class of E-DNA biosensor for their clinical utility in finger-prick volumes of whole blood.

Claudio Parolo
Beatriu de Pinós Postdoctoral Fellow
Ph.D. ’13 from Autonomous University of Barcelona in Biotechnology
claudio.parolo (at)

My general research interest is the development of cheap and easy-to-use biosensors for diagnostics applications. I am currently working on the integration of electrochemical DNA sensors into a paper-based electrode. The final goal is the development of a multiplexed device to detect HIV and Syphilis biomarkers in real samples.

Gabriel Ortega
Ph.D. 2015 from the University of Basque Country & CIC bioGUNE in Molecular Biology and Biomedicine
gortega (at)

Proteins are nature’s choice for most biological functions, but when it comes to biotechnological applications, we are not yet able to make use of their full potential. This is partially because proteins often unfold, adhere to, and inactivate on artificial surfaces. My research focuses on developing models of protein-surface interactions of sufficient detail and accuracy as to guide the design of surfaces on which attached-proteins retain their native fold, their function, and any relevant conformational changes. My ultimate goal is to use this knowledge to design protein-based electrochem


Andrea Idili
Ph.D. ’16 in Chemistry from University of Rome Tor Vergata
aidili (at)

My research focuses on the design and characterization of new electrochemical aptamer-based sensors for the detection of diagnostically relevant small molecules. The ultimate goal is the development of new DNA-based sensors for performing both ex-vivo point of care measurements of diagnostically important molecules and their continuos in-vivo measurements.


Andrew Csordas
Ph.D. ’07 from the University of California at Davis in Biological Systems Engineering
acsordas (at)

My scientific interests are at the interface of molecular diagnostics and engineering. My current research involves developing and characterizing electrochemical sensors for the detection of small molecules and proteins encountered in biomedical applications.

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Graduate Students

Jacob Somerson
BMSE Program
jacob.somerson (at)

Real-time monitoring of medications and biomarkers could allow for truly personalized medicine, enabling smarter dosing and dramatically improved patient outcomes. My research focuses on using the intersection of electrochemistry and biochemistry to enable real-time sensing in real clinical media and to answer interesting biophysical questions.

See my CV here.


Nathan Ogden
Materials Program
nate.ogden (at)

Biosensor development and sensor coupling to microfluidic devices.



Megan Larisch
BMSE Program




Ava ‘Shruti’ Greenwoodshruti1
Chemistry Program




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Undergraduate Students

Eric Pang
Chemistry Undergraduate
ericpang (at)

I am currently researching a new method to measure protein-surface interaction thermodynamics. Under the mentorship of Dr. Martin Kurnik, I am investigating various stabilizing and destabilizing effects that different artificial surfaces have on different model proteins. With extensive knowledge of protein folding behavior with artificial surfaces, we can hopefully optimize and improve the performance of currently-developing protein biosensors.

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Plaxco Group Alumni

Deby Fapyane, Visiting International Student Autumn ’17
Alessandra Troina,  Visiting International Student Autumn ’17
Amanda Caceres, Chemistry undergraduate ’17
Chase Hawes, Chemistry Undergraduate ’17
Hui Li,  Marie Curie Fellow ’17
Ramces Gonzalez, ARC Summer Research Program ’16
Stefano Cinti, Visiting Scholar ’16
Di Kang, Ph.D. ’16
Hannah Kallewaard-Lum, Master ’16
Yanxian Li, Chemistry undergraduate ’15
Claire Tran, Chemistry undergraduate ’15
Dr. Emir Yasun, Post Doc ’14-’15
Christopher Bellingham, Chemistry undergraduate ’15
Mackenzie Lucero, EUREKA Summer Intern ’15
Luke Walls-Smith, B.S. in Biochemistry ’14
Anna Simon, Ph.D. Student ’15
Alejandro Chamorro, Visiting International Student Spring ’15
Boitumelo ‘Tumi’ Fanampe, Visiting Fulbright Scholar 2014
Dr. Xiuhai Mao, Winter 2014 Visiting International Researcher
Eric Rinehart, Summer 2013 SURF Fellow
Gianluca Adornetto, Visiting International Student Summer ’13
Colin Moore, Visiting International Student Spring ’13
Camille Lawrence, Ph.D. Student ’13
Helena Montón Domingo, Visiting International Student Spring ’13
Herschel Watkins, Ph.D. Student ’08-’13
Simona Ranallo , Visiting International Student Fall ’12
Dr. Alexis Vallée-Bélisle, Post Doc ’07-’12
Andrea Idili , Visiting International Student Summer ’12
Kaisha Benjamin, SABRE Intern, B.S. Chemical Engineering ’13
Amanda Goley, Undergraduate Researcher, B.S. Biochemistry ’12
Zoe Swank, Undergraduate Researcher, B.S. Biochemistry ’12
Dina Niculaes, Visiting Student ’11-’12
Dr. Adriana Patterson, Ph.D. Student ’07-’12
Dr. Fan Xia, Post Doc ’09-’12
Dr. Vinh Nguyen, Post Doc ’09-’12
Eva Gonzalez Fernandez, International Visiting Student 2012
Alessandro Porchetta, Visiting International Student Fall ’11
Dr. Andrew J. Bonham, Post Doc ’10-’11
Dr. Ryan White, Post Doc ’07-’11
Kelly Chuh , Undergraduate Researcher, BS ’11 Biochemistry
Erin Miller, Undergraduate Researcher, BS ’11
Dr. Aaron Rowe, Ph.D. ’11
Dr. Xiaolei Zuo, Post Doc ’08-’10
Dr. Kevin Cash, Ph.D. ’09
Dr. Arica Lubin, Ph.D. ’09
Dr. Takanori Uzawa , Post Doc ’06-’09
Dr. Yi Xiao; Post Doc ’04-’08
Dr. Jing Xu, Ph.D. Student, ’03-’08
Brook Vander Stoep Hunt (Barajas), Undergraduate Researcher, BS Microbiology ’07
Dr. Kenneth J. Oh , PhD ’07
Dr. Francesco Ricci , Post Doc ’05-’07
Dr. Rebecca Lai , Post Doc ’03-’07
Dr. Brian Baker , Post Doc ’03-’06
Dr. Miguel de los Rios, Ph.D. Student, ’99-’05
Dr. Jonathan E. Kohn , PhD ’05
Dr. Evan McCarney , PhD ’05
Dr. Blake Gillespie , Post Doc ’99-’03


Lab Mailing Address

3209 Center for Bioengineering
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106


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