Group Members

Principal Investigator

  • Yvonne Chen Yvonne Chen
    • B.S., Chemical Engineering, Stanford University
    • Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology

    Yvonne earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology. She received postdoctoral training at the Center for Childhood Cancer Research within the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and at the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. Yvonne was a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows prior to joining the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2013. Dr. Chen has been a recipient of the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, the ACGT Young Investigator Award in Cell and Gene Therapy for Cancer, the NSF CAREER Award, the Mark Foundation Emerging Leader Award, and the Cancer Research Institute’s Lloyd J. Old STAR Award. Yvonne is also a Member Researcher in the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

    yvonne.chen at ucla dot edu

Project Scientists

  • Mobina Khericha Mobina Khericha
    • BSc, Biotechnology, Bangalore University, India
    • MSc, Molecular Genetics, University of Leicester, UK
    • Ph.D., Molecular Genetics, University of Leicester, UK

    Mobina K. is an Assistant Project Scientist and the Chen Lab Manager. She comes from labs at University College London and Texas A&M where her work focused on aging using the model organism Drosophila melanogaster. In her free time, Mobina K. enjoys traveling, cooking, trying new restaurants and spending time with her daughter.

Graduate Students, Ph.D.

  • Justin Clubb Justin Clubb
    • B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Washington
    • Ph.D. Student, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, UCLA

    Justin is a PhD student in the Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering department. As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, Justin worked in the lab of Dr. Mary Lidstrom on engineering the metabolism of methanotrophs to increase their productivity and efficiency in converting lipids to biodiesel. After graduation, Justin spent over five years working in the biopharmaceutical industry in the Bay Area of California. In his most recent position, he developed robust processes for antibody-drug-conjugate bioconjugation and purification. Justin is looking forward to working with T cells and developing novel cancer therapeutic technologies. In his free time, Justin likes to spend time outdoors, and travel.

    clubbjd at ucla dot edu
  • Tora Gao Tora Gao
    • B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Washington
    • Ph.D. Student, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, UCLA

    Tora is a PhD student in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department. As an undergraduate student at the University of Washington, he utilized analytical chromatography and mass spectrometry to investigate the cellular metabolism of microglial cells. Tora is excited to work with T cells and develop novel immunotherapies against cancers in the Chen Lab. In his free time, he enjoys watching soccer (go Chelsea and Sounders!) and exploring nature (like a true Washingtonian).

    gaotora at ucla dot edu
  • Amy Hong Amy Hong
    • B.S., Chemical Engineering, Northwestern University
    • M.S., Chemical Engineering, Northwestern University
    • Ph.D. Student, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, UCLA

    Amy is a PhD student in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering. At Northwestern University, she worked on computational model-guided design of synthetic receptors and genetic programs for mammalian cellular engineering in Dr. Josh Leonard’s lab. Amy is excited to expand her knowledge in experimental research and mammalian synthetic biology in the Chen lab. As an Elite Yelper, she is also excited to try out and write reviews of the many restaurants LA has to offer.

    ahong0209 at ucla dot edu
  • Ryan Shih Ryan Shih
    • B.S., Bioengineering, UC Berkely
    • B.S., Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS), UC Berkeley
    • M.D. & Ph.D. Student, Molecular Biology Interdepartmental Program (MBIDP), UCLA

    Ryan is a UCLA-Caltech MSTP student conducting his PhD in the Molecular Biology Interdepartmental Program (MBIDP). At UC Berkeley, he worked on design of micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) in Dr. Kristofer Pister’s lab in the hopes of building small medical microrobots. He also worked on various microfluidic cell-sorting applications in Dr. Luke Lee’s lab as well as PET image-processing under Dr. Mekhail Anwar (at UCSF). He has since shifted focus with interest in leveraging current technologies in cell engineering and synthetic biology to develop next-generation cancer immunotherapies. When not daydreaming about how to build cancer treatments, Ryan likes to play his hangpan, do taiko, bake, go axe/knife throwing, and enjoy the great outdoors.

    rshih at ucla dot edu

Research Associates

  • Amr Almaktari Amr Almaktari
    • B.S., Biochemistry, State University of NY, Stony Brook University
    • M.S., Biology, City University of NY, Hunter College

    Amr’s previous experience focused on the effect of myosin motors on oligodendrocyte development. In his free time, he likes to read, draw, and go to art museums.

  • Melanie Ayala Ceja Melanie Ayala Ceja
    • B.S., Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics with a minor in Biomedical Research, UCLA

    Melanie is a Staff Research Associate in the Chen Laboratory. Their previous research focused on optimizing the production of neural progenitor cells using NGN2-directed differentiation as well as elucidating the role of IL-17A/F in an animal model of multiple sclerosis. In their free time, Melanie likes to practice the ukulele, explore LA landmarks, and cook.

  • Amber Bouren Amber Bouren
    • B.S., Biology, Lindenwood University
    • M.S. Biology, SIUe

    Amber is a Staff Research Associate in the Chen laboratory. Her previous research focused on Rapid Cold Hardening and Cold Tolerance in Drosophila Melanogaster. Outside of the lab, she enjoys reading, taking care of her house plants, and enjoying time with her family.

  • Caitlin Harris Caitlin Harris
    • B.S., Biological Sciences, CSU Fullerton
    • B.A., Psychology, CSU Fullerton
    • M.S., Immunology, CSU Fullerton

    Caitlin is a Staff Research Associate in the Chen Laboratory. Her previous research focused on characterizing the reactive oxygen species response in Drosophila macrophages. Outside of the lab, Caitlin likes to take care of her house plants, go to the beach, and try new recipes.

  • Mandy Shafer Mandy Shafer
    • B.S., Biology, San Francisco State University
    • A.S., Veterinary Technology, Mount San Antonio College

    Mandy is a Research Associate in the Chen Laboratory. As an undergraduate student, she participated in disease ecology and entomology research, as well as wildlife ecology research banding birds in southern Peru. In her free time Mandy enjoys reading, horseback riding in Griffith Park, and gardening.

Undergraduate Students

  • Shreya Vajragiri Shreya Vajragiri

    Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics

  • Eliana Green Eliana Green


  • Sophie Ong Sophie Ong

    Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics

  • Sohan Talluri Sohan Talluri

    Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics

  • Mikayla Silverman Mikayla Silverman

    Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics


Postdoctoral Alumni

  • Christopher Ede (Fulgent Diagnostics)

Project Scientist Alumni

  • Christopher Walthers (Orca Biosciences)

Graduate Alumni

  • Laurence Chen (Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, 2022)
  • Andrew Hou (Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, 2022)
  • Eunwoo (Chris) Nam (M.S., Chemical Engineering, 2021)
  • Ximin Chen (Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, 2020)
  • Meng-Yin Lin (Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, 2019)
  • Patrick Ho (Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, 2018)
  • Eugenia Zah (Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, 2018)
  • ZeNan Chang (Ph.D., Molecular Biology, 2017)
  • Michael H. Lorenzini (MS, Bioengineering, 2016)

Research Associate Alumni

  • Brenda Ji (California University of Science and Medicine)
  • Thomas Schweppe (Link Immunotherapeutics)
  • Mobina Roshandell (Fate Therapeutics)
  • Cristian Gruppi (UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability)
  • Travis Jones
  • Stan Gosliner (Yale University)

Undergraduate Alumni

  • Van C. Tran (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2015)
  • Ryan Smolkin (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2016)
  • Haixing Kehoe (Bioengineering, 2015)
  • Samee Siddiqui (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2015)
  • George Wang (Bioengineering, 2016)
  • Raman Bedekar (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2018)
  • Margaret Botka (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2018)
  • Uyen Tran (Biochemistry, 2018)
  • Hang Ho (Bioengineering, 2018)
  • Arthur Thai (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2018)
  • YoungGeun Choi (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2017)
  • Niraj Mehta (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2018)
  • Lingqi Kong (Biochemistry, 2018)
  • Matthew Lim (Bioengineering)
  • Sabah Rahman (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2019)
  • Minsoo Kim (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
  • Vinya Bhuvan (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
  • Jaimie Chen (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2019)
  • Yunfeng (Bill) Ding (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2018)
  • Anya Alag (Microbiology, Immunology, Molecular Genetics, 2020)
  • Lindsey Wong (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
  • Demetri Nicolaou (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2019)
  • Joshua Yu (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, 2020)
  • Robin Reyes (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
  • Emma Salvestrini (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
  • Lois Bai (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
  • Neha Iyer (Bioengineering)
  • Zachary Stotz (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)