Fall 2019




Professor James S. Nowick


Research Advisor


-A.B., Columbia University (1985)

-Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1990)

-NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1989-1991)



Link to Dr. Nowick's Profile



Dr. Adam Kreutzer


Assistant Project Scientist


-B.S., Biology, University of Utah (2006)

-M.S., Oncological Sciences, University of Utah (2008)

-Ph.D., Chemistry, University of California-Irvine (2017)


Adam Kreutzer is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah. Adam received both his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Utah and was fortunate to do research in many different molecular biology and biochemistry labs during this time. After working in a developmental biology lab for an additional four years after earning his M.S., Adam decided to change fields (kind of) and pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry. Adam joined professor Nowick’s group in 2012 and earned his Ph.D. in 2017. Adam’s Ph.D. research focused on elucidating the structures of oligomers formed by macrocyclic β-hairpin peptides derived from the Alzheimer’s disease-related β-amyloid peptide Aβ. Adam is currently working on characterizing polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies generated against Aβ oligomer mimics, with the goal of developing better biological probes and therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.


Dr. Michał Wierzbicki


Postdoctoral Scholar


-M.S., Organic Chemistry, Warsaw University of Technology (2011)

-Ph.D., Organic Chemistry, Institute of Organic Chemistry (Polish Academy of Sciences) (2016)


Michał was born in a small city of Milanówek in Poland. Since his high school days his scientific interests have been focused on organic chemistry and biological impact of chemical compounds. He acquired a Master’s degree at Warsaw University of Technology in the field of antituberculosis antibiotics, at which time crystallography emerged as his second area of interest. After that he started working on his PhD at the Institute of Organic Chemistry (Polish Academy of Sciences) in Warsaw under the supervision of Professor Agnieszka Szumna. He defended his thesis (concerning synthesis and structure of molecular capsules and cavitands) in 2016. In 2017 he was awarded a postdoctoral scholarship by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Republic of Poland and joined the Nowick research group at the University of California, Irvine. Michał likes to lead an active and healthy lifestyle. Although he might not look like that at first sight, his favorite activity is by far salsa dancing. So far he has done this with some minor successes, including performing in dancing shows at international festivals in Europe.


Michael Morris


Graduate Student


-B.S., Biochemistry, Union College (2014)


Michael Morris was born and raised outside Boston, MA (go Red Sox!). He graduated from Union College in Schenectady, NY in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. At Union, Michael worked with Prof. Laura MacManus-Spencer, where he investigated the binding mechanism of perfluoroalkyl acids to human serum albumin using analytical methods. After graduation, Michael moved out to beautiful southern California and began his graduate career at UC Irvine by working in the Nowick lab during the summer. Upon joining the Nowick lab this past fall, Michael is excited to use synthetic and peptide chemistry as well as X-ray crystallography to study amyloidogenic proteins. In his free time, Michael enjoys hiking, eating Chipotle, and expanding his tea collection.


William Howitz


Graduate Student


-B.S., Chemistry and Biology, Hamline University (2015)


Will grew up in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota where he completed his undergraduate studies at Hamline University with degrees in both chemistry and biology. His research at Hamline focused on the synthesis of cell-penetrating peptides as cancer therapeutics and isocyanides for multicomponent reactions under Professor Rita Majerle. After braving the cold winters for many years, he moved out to California to pursue a Ph.D. with an emphasis in chemical biology at UCI. He joined the Nowick lab to develop and validate peptide models of amyloid beta and elucidate their immunological effects on microglia. In his free time, Will practices taekwondo (going on 12 years now) and competes at the national level. If he is not in the lab or the gym, he is probably out exploring. Ask him what he has been up to lately!


Tuan Samdin


Graduate Student


-B.A., Molecular and Cell Biology: Biological Chemistry, University of California-Berkeley (2016)


Tuan was raised in the high deserts of Palmdale, CA where the average temperature in the summer was rarely below 90ºF. He attended UCB for the opportunity to explore his fascination with proteins and to experience a climate with fewer similarities to the Martian surface. While at Berkeley, Tuan investigated nanostructures formed by genetically modified bacteriophage and their use as biosensors for volatile organic compounds. He joined the Nowick Group at UCI in 2016 to explore the structures formed by the intrinsically disordered proteins Aβ and Tau, and to understand their role in neurotoxicity.


Sheng Zhang


Graduate Student


-B.S., Biotechnology, East China University of Science and Technology (2014)

-M.S., Biotechnology, California State University, Fresno (2016)


Sheng Zhang was born in Nanyang, China and finished his undergraduate studies in Shanghai, China. While working in a lab at ECUST, Sheng was fascinated by the molecular biology of bacteria and protein biochemistry. Wanting to explore the field of biotechnology, he joined a master’s program at CSU, Fresno (go bulldogs!). He did research in Dr. Qiao-hong Chen’s lab in the field of bio-organic chemistry. He enjoyed splitting his time between organic synthesis and cell assays. He realized chemistry is just as exciting as biology! He left his master’s program seeking opportunities to explore chemistry at the interface of biology. He soon found himself joining the Nowick lab at UCI (go anteaters!) investigating peptides.



Gretchen Guaglianone


Graduate Student


-B.S., Chemistry, University of California-Los Angeles (2016)


Gretchen Guaglianone grew up just outside of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. She made the move to southern California to attend UCLA and graduated with a degree in Chemistry in 2016. Following graduation, she accepted a job with GlaxoSmithKline in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina as an analytical scientist. There, she developed methods for new Raman spectroscopy instruments and helped validate procedures for metered dose inhaler analysis. She is excited to be back in southern California pursuing her Ph.D. doing research in the Nowick group. In her free time she likes to ski, hike, and hanging out at the beach!



Xing Li


Graduate Student


-B.S., Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison (2014)


Xing was born in China, and at a young age of 8, moved to the United States.  He lived in 3 different states (Florida, Illinois, New York) before finally settling in Minnesota. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked under the guidance of Younghee Shin in the Samuel H. Gellman lab. After graduating, he decided to take a few years off to work in the industry. His role at Sigma-Aldrich involved large scale organic synthesis of biopharmaceutical drugs. In 2016, he moved on to working at PPD, where he practiced his analytical instrumentation skills in the biopharmaceutical development. The culmination of his experiences has led him to being fascinated by peptide chemistry, and he hopes to apply his knowledge of organic chemistry to making interesting peptides! In his free time, he is an avid fan of card and board games with a bit of deception (Avalon, Coup, Resistance, Mafia, Catan, etc).



Maj Krumberger


Graduate Student


-B.S., Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, University of Arizona (2016)


Maj is originally from a small country on the sunny side of the Alps – Slovenia. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Arizona where he fell in love with organic chemistry and its applications to biology. He conducted chemistry research in the lab of Dr. Victor J. Hruby, discovering novel peptides for preferential binding to the Melanocortin 4 Receptor. In the Nowick laboratory Maj is designing and synthesizing small molecule probes for detecting and studying neurotoxic oligomers. He is consistently trying to walk a thin line between synthetic organic chemistry and chemical biology. In his free time, he loves to travel, try new places to eat (as well as exciting coffee shops and Boba places), and he thoroughly enjoys watching both new and old movies – he considers himself a cinephile.



James Griffin


Graduate Student


-B.S., Chemical Biology, University of California-Berkeley (2018)


James Griffin was born in San Diego, California (the superior SoCal city) and grew up watching reruns of Bill Nye and Battlebots that his mom recorded for him on VHS. After being inspired to study molecular biology in high school, he completed his undergraduate degree in Chemical Biology at UC Berkeley. While there, he worked in the laboratory of Felix Fischer optimizing the synthesis of strained alkyne macrocycles for ring-opening alkyne metathesis polymerization of graphene nanoribbons. Deciding he needed a little more biology in his chemistry, James joined the Nowick lab in order to master new techniques related to peptide synthesis and to perform research with relevant applications to living systems. He enjoys discussing and explaining his many interests and hobbies, which include watching esports and playing Magic: The Gathering.



Chelsea Parrocha


Graduate Student


-B.S., Biological Sciences and Chemistry, University of Alaska-Anchorage (2018)


Chelsea was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. While pursuing her double major in biological sciences and chemistry in the University of Alaska, Anchorage she worked in Dr. Frank A. von Hippel’s ecotoxicology lab as an undergraduate researcher developing standard operating procedures for thyroid, gonad, and kidney histomorphological and histopathological analysis on stickleback fish and performing statistical analysis. Chelsea aspires to become a well-rounded individual and use her music minor she obtained as an undergraduate to become a “singing scientist.” She’s excited to start her career as a UCI PhD graduate student and about California’s “year-round gardening!”


Sarah Ruttenberg


Graduate Student


-B.S., Chemistry, University of Miami (2019)


Sarah is from just outside our nation’s wonderful capital, Washington, D.C. She moved to Miami in 2015 to complete her undergraduate studies in Chemistry at the University of Miami where she did research with carbon dots before developing a passion for neuroscience and moving into a position studying spinal cord injury at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. She drove from Miami to Irvine in 2019 to pursue a PhD in chemistry at UCI and joined the Nowick lab to pursue her ultimate goal of combining chemistry and neuroscience to study neurodegenerative disorders. Sarah has fallen in love with California despite being an east coast girl, and spends her free time playing rugby and enjoying the SoCal weather. She looks forward to developing her skills as a chemist and independent researcher.


Chelsea Jones


Graduate Student


-B.S., Chemistry, Biological Emphasis, University of Utah (2018)


Chelsea was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. She attended the University of Utah (go Utes!) where she graduated in 2018 with a B.S. in Chemistry, Biological Emphasis. Here she began doing research in the Synthetic and Medicinal Chemistry Core and continued her research at the U after graduating. She worked on developing a first-in-class noninvasive therapeutic agent for the treatment of glaucoma. With a desire to continue her education and delve deeper into the world of chemical biology she came to UCI. Here, she joined the Nowick lab with hopes to broaden her skills in the lab with the goal to improve the quality of life for those around the world. In her free time, she loves to explore the outdoors, play board/card games, do puzzles or rewatch The Office.


Sepehr Haerian


Post-baccalaureate Research Assistant


-B.S., Chemistry, University of California-Irvine (2018)


Sepehr Haerian was born and grew up in Mashhad, north east Iran. He moved to California when he was seventeen. He attended Saddleback college for three years, then transferred to UCI. He joined Nowick lab in March 2017. He had the privilege of Patrick Salveson’s mentorship for a year and half. Under Patrick’s mentorship, he worked on controlling assembly and biological activity of macrocyclic peptides with light and developing triphenylmethane dyes as probes for trimers of beta-amyloid peptide. He has been working (almost) independently after Patrick`s graduation. He is currently working on use of cyclohexylalanine as a tool for controlling assembly of peptides. He wishes to pursue medicine in future. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, numismatics, and reading history and Persian literature.


Arthur Vladimirovich Pishenko


Undergraduate Research Assistant


-Chemistry Undergraduate, University of California-Irvine (2020)


Arthur was born in Hesperia and raised in Irvine, California. He is a 1st year chemistry undergraduate student at UCI. He has had a big interest in chemistry since high school and hopes to expand his knowledge. He is interested in learning peptide synthesis and  β-sheet amyloid peptide interaction from working under Tuan Samdin. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with friends, swimming, and solving puzzles.


Jennifer Thulien Nguyen


Undergraduate Research Assistant


-Pharmaceutical Sciences Undergraduate, University of California-Irvine (2022)


Jennifer was born and raised in Garden Grove, a short 15-20 minute drive from UCI. Jennifer started working in the Nowick lab fall of 2018 under the guidance of Adam Kruetzer and appreciates the knowledge that he has shared with her. Currently, she is working with Adam to achieve a deeper understanding of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies in Alzheimer’s disease. She was interested in working in a research lab to gain hands on experience, something that just couldn’t be offered in a typical classroom setting. Jennifer plans to do research until she graduates UCI in 3 years and hopes to continue to be a part of student research at pharmacy school. Her dream is to go to pharmacy school to become a pharmacist or toxicologist and work for the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). In her free time, Jennifer enjoys playing tennis, trying new food, watching anime and spending time with friends.


Victoria Sahrai


Undergraduate Research Assistant


-Chemistry Undergraduate, University of California-Irvine (2020)


Victoria is from Los Angeles, California. She transferred from Santa Monica College in Fall 2018 and joined the Nowick group in Spring 2019. She is currently a junior obtaining a B.S. in Chemistry with a concentration in Biology, and is very excited to be working with synthesizing and analyzing peptides, under the guidance of Tuan Samdin! After graduating, she is interested in pursuing graduate or medical school. In her free time, she likes to experiment with cooking, explore new trails, and play guitar.



Matt Watkins


Undergraduate Research Assistant


-Chemical Engineering and Chemistry Undergraduate, University of California-Irvine (2021)


Matt was born and raised in San Diego, California. He is a transfer student double majoring in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry. Matt comes to UCI after having lived in San Francisco for 5 years, where he worked various part time jobs and attended community college. Originally an architecture major, Matt slowly discovered a passion for chemistry and biology when he switched his academic pursuits towards engineering. He is happy to be working under the guidance of Gretchen Guaglianone to further hone his chemical biology skills. After graduation, he hopes to attend medical school, and one day practice medicine. In his free time he is either skateboarding, thinking of skateboarding, or watching skate videos.



Grace Huizar


Undergraduate Research Assistant


-Biological Sciences Undergraduate, University of California-Irvine (2021)


Grace is from Wilmington, California, a tight knit Mexican community located not too far from Irvine. She is currently a junior majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Political Science. Grace’s passion is helping others and she aspires to be a pediatrician in the future. Whether it’s volunteering at a hospital or purifying samples in lab, Grace always strives to give her 110%. She joined the Nowick lab, under the guidance of Sheng Zhang. She has truly learned so much and is excited to continue to investigate peptides! In her free time, she likes to spend time with her family, watch Netflix, and discover new ice cream and boba places to visit!



Hannah Jusuf


Undergraduate Research Assistant


-Pharmaceutical Sciences Undergraduate, University of California-Irvine (2021)


Hannah was born in Manila, Philippines but grew up in the humid tropics of Solo, a city right in the middle of Central Java, Indonesia. Hannah started working under Sheng's mentorship in Fall 2019 and really enjoys hands-on learning, which is what prompted her to join a research lab. She is currently majoring in Pharmaceutical Sciences and minoring in Management because she is looking forward to pursuing a career within the drug development and product management area of the pharmaceutical industry. During her free time, Hannah enjoys cooking, exploring restaurants, playing the ukulele, and watching movies.


Graduate Students

Adam Kreutzer

Amy Sue Grant (Waldman)

Chris Gothard

Chun-Ching Huang

EJ Pone

Eric Smith

Evelyn Khamou

Hyunjun Yang

Jared Kuemmerle

Jeffrey Stocker

Jim Tsai

Johnny Pham

Jose Zavaleta

Kate McKnelly

Kevin Chen

Kevin Hsinwen Chen

Kim Le

Laura Pena

Linda Waldman (Schechinger)

Mandy Zheng

Mason Pairish

Matt Klun

Matt Koutroulis

Michael Chung

Mick Soth

Nick Truex

Omid Khakshoor

Paramjit Arora

Patrick Salveson

Pin-Nan Cheng

Ryan Spencer

Sang Woo Kang

Sergiy Levin

Stan Yoo

Tuan Tran

Ye Sun

Yilin Wang



Undergraduate Student Researchers

Aaron Lin

Alberto Smith Olivas

Andrew Lam

Andrew Lucas Sabol

Anne-Marie Carole Leiby

Ariana Motavalli

Arya Baghkhanian

Betty Nguyen

Candace Hart

Chuong Bui

Cindy Saliba

Denise Bui

Derek Du Bois

Dylan Simpson

Eduardo Martinez

Edward Wang

Emily Eileen Beard

Hanan Wali

Hao Li

Jaime Frias

Jeff Huon

Jennifer Heemstra (Cary)

Jennifer Love

Jenny S. Chen

Khalil Bassam

Katelyn Haduong

Kelsey Corro

Kevin (Hao Tham Ho) Mee

Kevin Huang

Leo Takaoka

Long Phan

Melody Malek

Michelle Noel Diab

Mike Guttman

Mike Valenzuela

Mohammad Hossein Hashemian

Mohamed Laayouni

Muna Abdi

Ngoc Vo (Nicole)

Ngoctran Tran

Noel A. Powell

Ornella Nelson

Robert Bernstein

Roxanne Massoumi

Samer Saleh

Sami Mahrus

Shareen Naomi Ashby

Stephanie Tran

Stephanie Le

Steve Marchenko

Thang Nguyen

Thomas Cao

Timothy Matthew Bierlein

Tram Nguyen

Valerie Brunell (Antonovich)

Will Cabanela

Xuan Han (Tiga)

Postdoctoral Scholars

Balraju Vadla

Bill Kemnitzer

Byungwoo Yoo

Darren Holmes

Glenn Noronha

Hong Woo Kim

In Quen Lee

Jeremy Woods

Ji Yang

Jian Liu

Justin Brower

Kalyani Maitra

Kim Lavoie (Stigers)

Mark Wilson

Nooshin Hashemzadeh

Santanu Maitra

Shabana Insaf

Steve Holmgren

Suchitra Datta

Tania Khasanova

Wade Russu



Visiting Scholars

Alexander Kvitsinski (Sasha)

Alexander Thuy-Boun


Azzurra Stefanucci

Elena Castellanos Santiago

Elena Junquera González

Guido Lutterbach

Jonathan Lin

Katie Ferrick

Max Lumetzberger

Mia Russo

Nosheen Akber (Rao)

Pin-Nan Cheng

Saleha Khan

Sebastian Clementson

Shafiullah Khan

Silvi Lybbert

Takayuki Nakamuro