Tissue Engineering Lab
Graduate Students

Jhilmil Duhlekar

Diabetes is a major risk factor for vascular diseases, and diabetic patients are more susceptible to damaged tissues and blood vessels. This is because in diabetes, elevated blood glucose and lipid levels interact with proteins such as collagen and elastin in the blood vessel walls, and via oxidation and cross-linking processes, result in vascular stiffening, inflammation, impaired healing, fibrosis, and calcification. The goal of Jhilmil’s research is to develop tissue engineered vascular grafts resistant to diabetes-related alterations. This will involve understanding the alterations induced by diabetes in vascular scaffolds, stabilizing the scaffolds with a polyphenol coating to reduce alterations to the vascular wall, and seeding adipose stem cells on the scaffolds to promote renewal of vascular tissue using a bioreactor. Ultimately, Jhilmil aims that when implanted into animals, these vascular grafts will show improved renewal of the tissues without any impairment to the vessel integrity and structure.

Spencer Marsh

I am a Ph.D. student studying the effects in co-culture of cardiomyocytes and cardiac fibroblasts. This will extend into matrix based co-culture as well after my initial research is completed. For my undergraduate degree, I majored in bio-engineering with a concentration in bio-materials here at Clemson university.  In my undergraduate research, I worked in Dr. Simionescu's lab and worked on differentiation of adipose derived stem cells into cardiomyocytes. Along with this, I currently hold the logistics and operations manager position for central campus activities and events; this involves managing Tillman auditorium, palmetto ballroom, bowman field, and many other venues. In my free time, I enjoy reading and spending my time outdoors. 

Bethany Lefeber

Bethany is a Ph.D. student in the CTERM laboratory. The goal of Bethany’s research will be to develop a tissue engineered vascular graft that is resistant to the effects of diabetes. This will include observing traits of vascular cells in diabetic culture, seeding human vascular cells onto scaffolds, mechanically conditioning the cells with the use of a bioreactor, and studying the effects of these tissue engineered vascular grafts implanted into a diabetic animal model. Ultimately, Bethany aims to successfully create a vascular graft that, when implanted into a diabetic model, will show improved renewal of tissue without any impairment to the vessel integrity and structure. Bethany completed her Bachelors of Science in biomedical engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Outside of research, Bethany enjoys swimming and music.  

Nathan Adams

I am a Ph.D. student developing a tissue engineering model of mitral valve prolapse. This particular model will focus on diabetic conditions causing prolapse as compared to a normal healthy mitral valve. I got my undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at Auburn University (War Eagle!), specializing in biomedical engineering applications. I am a competitive runner, triathlete, and volleyballer with aspirations of national-level competition in all three sports. Outside of the lab and training for these sports, you can find me reading a good book or recording music with some friends in both Auburn and Clemson.

Collin Owens

I am a Master’s student working on mitral valve tissue engineering (MVTE) with an emphasis on hypertensive environments. I will be utilizing a bioreactor, designed by former lab members, and optimizing it for the mitral valve to study the chemical and anatomical changes that are happening to the mitral valve in a hypertensive environment. For my undergraduate career, I received my Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering here at Clemson University. I worked doing undergraduate research in Dr. Simionescu’s lab working with a former graduate student on mitral valve research. Along with this, I work at the Clemson University Fire and EMS department as a student firefighter/EMT and serve as the student liaison. During my free time, I enjoy being outdoors, golfing and spending time with friends and family.


Laura McCallum

Ph.D. 2018, Bioengineering
Currently: Postdoctoral Researcher, Clemson University

David Pollard

M.S. 2018, Bioengineering

Anna Lu Carter

M.S. 2018, Bioengineering
Currently: Process Engineer at W. L. Gore & Associates

Chris Deborde

Ph.D. 2017, Bioengineering
Currently: Process Development Engineer at Humacyte

James McManus

M.S. 2017, Bioengineering

Margarita Portilla

M.S. 2016, Bioengineering
Currently: Ph.D. student in Dr. Dan Simionescu's BTRL lab

Joshua Biggs

M.S. 2016, Bioengineering

Josh Rodriguez

M.S. 2016, Bioengineering

Robert Marti

M.S. 2016, Bioengineering

Eric Wright

M.S. 2016, Bioengineering

Lisa Larrew

M.S. 2016, Bioengineering

Elizabeth Fontaine

M.S. 2015, Bioengineering

Lee Sierad

Ph.D. 2014, Bioengineering
Currently: Aptus (www.aptusbioreactors.com)


Jason Schulte

Ph.D.2014, Bioengineering
Currently: Postdoctoral Associate, Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery Department,
                 Cardiovascular Innovation Institute, Louisville, KY


James Chow

Ph.D 2014, Bioengineering
Currently: Gore Medical

Satyem Patel

M.S. 2014, Bioengineering

Click HERE to see the undergraduate students

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