The Plaxco Group


Group Picture, Spring 2016
Group Picture, Spring 2016


Prof. Kevin W. Plaxco

Kevin Plaxco
1161 Chemistry
(805) 893-5558 (phone)
(805) 893-4120 (Fax)

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.

Hui LiHuiLi
Marie Curie Fellow
Ph.D. ’13 from University of Berne in Switzerland in Material Chemistry
huili (at)

My research interest is to develop electrochemical DNA biosensors (E-DNA) for real-time, continuous measurements of clinic relevant drugs and biomakers in whole blood in vitro and in vivo.

Netzahualcóyotl ‘Netz’ ArroyoNetz
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 DucharmePhil
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 electrochemical biosensors.

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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.

Megan Larisch
BMSE Program
mclarisch (at)

Research Abstract TBD.

Ava ‘Shruti’ Greenwoodshruti1
Chemistry Program

Research Abstract TBD.


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Undergraduate Students

Amanda Caceres
Major: Chemistry, Class of 2017

My research focuses on understanding how proteins interact with artificial surfaces in order to facilitate the design of biocompatible materials.


Chase Hawes
Major: Chemistry, Class of 2017

My research focuses on the development and optimization of electrochemical DNA sensors. The goal is to aid in the integration of these sensors into paper-based platforms to create cheap and user friendly sensors for point of care disease diagnostics.


Lab Visitors

No visitors :(


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Plaxco Group Alumni

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

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Mail Stop 9510
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Lab Phone: (805)-893-5845


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