People

IonelPopa

FLAGROMANIA Ionel Popa 1pCV
Principal Investigator
Email: popa@uwm.edu
Phone: 414-229-5086
Room: KEN 3180
Established: 2015

Ionel Popa received his B.Sc. degree in Chemical Engineering from Gh. Asachi Technical University in 2005 and his Ph.D. in Physical and Analytical Chemistry from University of Geneva in 2010, under the direction of Prof. Michal Borkovec. He then joined the group of Julio M. Fernandez at Columbia University to study protein biophysics, where he held the positions of Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate Research Scientist. Since fall 2015, he joined the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he currently holds the rank of Associate Professor.


Smrithika Subramani
Postdoctoral Research Scientist
Email: ssubra@uwm.edu
Phone: 414-229-2296
Room: KEN 4028
Joined: 2019

Smrithika Subramani is currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Popa Lab working on magnetic tweezers to unravel protein dynamics. A major part of her work will also involve development of FRET spectroscopic technique with the Raicu group. She completed a Masters in Physics, focusing on sensor based applications of graphene nano-structures. Her PhD (at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-organization, Göttingen) involved extensive research on the dynamics of biomimetic structures. She developed techniques to construct complex networks using microtubule-kinesin assemblies in vitro.


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Joel Nowitzke
Graduate Student (Ph.D.)
Email: nowitzk2@uwm.edu
Phone: 414-229-2296
Room: KEN 4028
Joined: 2017

I joined the physics department as a graduate student in 2014 after receiving my BS in Physics from St. Cloud State University in 2013. I am currently working on single molecule magnetic tweezer experiments along with assisting Luai with protein hydrogels. I have many interests in physics ranging from astronomy/gravitational waves down to single molecule mechanical systems. I am an avid bowler and have been bowling most of my life with a high game of 299. I enjoy movies, reading, and bonfires even if it is a sub-zero night during the Minnesota winter.


 Sabita Sharma
Graduate Student (Ph.D.)
Email: sabita@uwm.edu
Phone: 414-229-2296
Room: KEN 4020
Joined: 2018

I joined the graduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Fall 2017 after I got my B.Sc. and M.Sc. degree in Physics from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. I recently joined Popa Lab, and I am working on BSA hydrogels. In my free time, I like to take a walk, watch movies or read novels.

 


Bình Phan
Graduate Student (Ph.D.)
Email: binhphan@uwm.edu
Phone: 414-229-2296
Room: KEN 4020
Joined: 2020

Binh Phan graduated from the Illinois Wesleyan University in 2019, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Physics and a minor in Philosophy. His B.S. thesis was on terahertz absorption spectra of silicate cosmic analog dusts. He joined UWM in Fall 2019 as a graduate student and is currently assisting Popa lab in research while finishing up his coursework. In his free time, Bình enjoys practicing calligraphy (Eastern and Western), reading books (his favorite genres are historical fiction and nonfiction, fantasy, and anything written by Kurt Vonnegut), and cooking. If you ask Bình to describe himself in a few words, his response would be “I like being confused.”


SB

 Sanam Bista
Graduate Student (Ph.D.)
Email: bista@uwm.edu
Phone: 414-229-2296
Room: KEN 4020
Joined: 2021

I joined the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Physics Department as a graduate student in 2021, Spring. I received my B.Sc. and M.Sc. degree in Physics from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. I am currently working on protein-based Hydrogels in the Popa lab. I like to explore the laws of Physics applied to Biomolecules. I enjoy playing sports, reading books, watching movies, and love being around people and nature in my free time.


Chetanath

Chetanath

 Chetanath Neupane
Graduate Student (Ph.D.)
Email: neupanec@uwm.edu
Phone: 414-229-2296
Room: KEN 4020
Joined: 2022

After obtaining B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Physics from Tribhuvan University in Nepal, Chetanath enrolled in the graduate program in Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the fall of 2022.
He is curious about learning physical phenomena behind complex biological systems like proteins, so he recently joined Dr. Popa’s sophisticated lab to learn experimental skills. In his spare time, he likes to go on hikes, play sports, and watch movies.


 

kennedy

Kennedy Stacy
Graduate Student (M.S.)
Email: stacyk@uwm.edu
Phone: 414-229-2296
Room: KEN 4020
Joined: 2022

I am a current Master’s non-thesis student in Biological Science and I completed my B.A. at Columbia University in Biology in 2020. I am interested in molecular biology and protein biochemistry, in which I hope to pursue my PhD. I also work in the de la Cova lab in Cell and Molecular Biology, where I design schemes for transgenes to assist in generating mutant strains of C. elegans for the worm ortholog of the human oncogene B-Raf. I am a Capricorn and my favorite cuisine is Thai.


Flag_of_Canada 2 Naomi Raicu
Undergraduate Student
Email: neraicu@uwm.edu 
Room: KEN 4020
Joined: 2020

Naomi Raicu is an undergraduate student majoring in Physics. She has interned for Popa lab since her junior year in high school. Her past projects include working with members of the lab to engineer various polyproteins and using magnetic tweezers to study their unfolding mechanisms. She currently works on developing a novel optical method to study protein-based hydrogels. She loves computer programming and making things. Naomi hopes that working in Popa Lab this year will help her find her specific passion within the realm of physics.


Flag_of_the_United_StatesSuha Malik
Undergraduate Student
Email: maliks@uwm.edu
Room: KEN 4020
Joined: 2021

I’m currently an undergraduate student at UWM and will be majoring in Biological Sciences (BS) on the pre-med track with hopes of becoming a physician in the future! Through the UR@UWM Summer Program, I was fortunate enough to work in the Popa Lab and learn about the protein purification process. I currently use molecular biology to engineer various protein constructs. In my free time, I love reading, watching shows with my family, and hanging out with my friends!

 


Flag_of_the_United_StatesAvery Dedjoe
Undergraduate Student
Room: KEN 4020
Joined: 2022

I’m a junior majoring in electrical engineering. I grew up near the university, in Shorewood, and enjoy archery, video games, and hiking. One day I would like to live/work/study in a foreign country like Italy or Spain. In Dr. Popa’s lab I am working on 3D printing and electronics related projects.

 

 


Lilly

Flag_of_the_United_StatesLilly Grace Herbst
Undergraduate Student
Room: KEN 4020
Joined: 2022

I am an undergraduate student and will be majoring in Mechanical Engineering. I am currently working under Naomi in creating protein hydrogels and studying them. In my free time, I love to workout, dogsit, being around nature, and playing games with my friends.

 

 


 

ALUMNI

Flag_of_the_United_States Annie Eis was a research specialist in our lab

mexico Erick Sanchez was undergraduate student, left as design engineer at Harley-Davidson 

Narayan Dahal – was graduate student, left as postdoctoral scientist at Duke University, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

isrealflag Luai Khoury – was postdoctoral scientist, left as assistant professor at Technion University, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Flag_of_the_United_States Khoua Thao – was undergraduate student, left as graduate student (MD) at Medical College of Wisconsin, Medical School

 mexico Olivia Gloria – was undergraduate student, left as graduate student (MD) at Marquette University, School of Dentistry

Armenia Gevork Seifert – was undergraduate student, left as graduate student (MD) at American University of the Caribbean, School of Medicine

ukraine Kirill Shmilovich – was undergraduate student, left as graduate student (PhD) at University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering