The Lara Estroff Research Group

Making Bio-Inspiration Crystal Clear

Principal Investigator

Prof. Lara A. Estroff

Prof. Estroff

Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Previous Education:
Swarthmore College, B.A. Chemistry, 1997
Yale University, Ph.D. Chemistry, 2003
Harvard University, NIH Postdoctoral Researcher, 2003-2005

Professional Background - Curriculum Vitae

Postdoctoral Research Associates

Name Education

Dr. Jennie Russ Kunitake

Previous Education:
The Evergreen State College, B.A.S. Chemistry, 2011
Cornell University, Ph.D. Materials Science and Engineering, 2021

Pathological biomineralizations such as breast cancer microcalcifications, kidney stones, and cardiovascular calcifications are not well understood, especially from a materials science perspective. Previously, in collaboration with the Fischbach lab in the Cornell Biomedical Department, we have shown that biomineral materials properties (crystallinity, size…etc) greatly impact cellular interactions and can often be correlated with the severity of pathology. My research will continue projects focused on both thorough characterization of pathological biomineralizations and subsequent informed biomimetic synthesis for use in cell-mineral experiments.

Dr. Mahdi Ayoubi

Previous Education:
Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Ph.D. Materials Science and Engineering, 2020

Osteocytes, the most abundant bone cells, which derive from osteoblasts during bone formation, create dendritic processes providing a dense network of about 74 km per cubic centimeter in human osteons, and a surface of about 215 square meter in the human body. This huge accessibility to bone matrix offers facilitated mineral transport through bone tissue, and consequently, active control of mineralization.

In my PhD, I studied the role of osteocyte network in early mineralization of human bone during remodeling using focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM). Now, in collaboration with Fischbach and Wiesner labs, I aim to shed light on the interrelationship between the osteocytes and cancer cells in the metastatic sites of bone, by using additional high-resolution techniques, such as optical super-resolution microscopy and nano-CT.

Dr. Christopher Petroff

Previous Education:
Boston College, B.S. Chemistry, 2015
University of Pittsburgh, Ph.D. Chemistry, 2021

Chris is a joint postdoc between the Estroff group and the Marohn group in the Chemistry and Chemical Biology department. His research focuses on metal halide perovskites for solar applications. Specifically, he is working to better understand how processing conditions affect the morphology, crystal texture, and other properties of blade coated thin films and how these changes affect the resulting optoelectronic properties of the films.

Ph.D. Students

Name Education

Konrad Hedderick

Previous Education: Northwestern University, B.S. Materials Science and Engineering, 2017

Konrad Hedderick is from Boston, MA and earned his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University. He joined in 2017 and is currently co-advised in the Estroff and Wiesner groups, working on in-situ AFM studies of nucleation and growth of inorganic nanoparticles on nanoconfined patterned substrates.

Stephan Sutter

Previous Education: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, B.S. Biochemistry, Biological Sciences, 2020

My primary research interest is studying biological materials involved in pathological mineralization, particularly the matrix-mineral interactions of calcifications found in breast tumors. I aim to use Raman spectroscopy and (cryo) electron microscopy to study the tumor microenvironment and understand the role that calcifications play in the growth and spread of breast tumors.

Kuan-Ting Liu

Previous Education: National Taiwan University, B.S. Materials Science and Engineering, 2020

I joined the group in fall 2021 as a Ph.D. student in MSE. I'm working in the Perovskite Project, which is funded by DOE, and collaborated with many research groups and national labs. My research focuses on using in-situ AFM and NMR to study the mechanism of growth of perovskite crystals and solution chemistry.

Victorien Bernat

Previous Education:  Ecole Centrale de Nantes, Diplome d'Ingenieur

Victorien is from Bollene, France. He earned his Diplome d'Ingenieur from The Ecole Centrale de Nantes, France and his Master of Science in Engineering from Keio University, Japan. He joined in 2021 and is currently co-advised in the Estroff and Wiesner groups, working on the studies of silica nanoparticles inclusion in growing crystals.

Emily Hiralal

Previous Education:  Northwestern University, B.A. Chemistry and B.A. Biological Sciences, 2022

Emily Hiralal is a PhD student in the Chemistry and Chemical Biology department. She is co-advised by Lara Estroff and John Marohn. Her research focuses on the synthesis and optoelectronic characterization of hybrid organic-inorganic perovskite single crystals and thin films.

M.S. Students

Name Education

Olivia Rogers

Previous Education: Marshall University, B.S. Mechanical Engineering, 2021

My research stems from an interdisciplinary collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology which aims to link evolutionary changes in melanogenesis in feathers to internal feather structure, and study the implications of feather structure on the quality and longevity of flight feathers. My current techniques of focus are scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and nanoscale computed tomography (NanoCT).

Leyin Zheng

Previous Education:

Wanting (Ting) Zhang

Previous Education: Technion, B.S. Materials Engineering, 2022

Wanting Zhang is from Dongguan, China, and received her B.S in Materials Engineering from Technion. She joined in Fall 2022 as a Master student and is currently co-advised in the Estroff and Wiesner groups, working on chemistry and confinement effect on crystallization using block copolymer template.

Brenda S Javier-Boodhan

Previous Education: Universidad Ana G Méndez Recinto de Carolina (previously Universidad del Este), B.S. Biotechnology, 2021

My research focuses on mapping calcifications and their associated organic matrix from human tissues using FTIR microscopy and examine potential relationships between mineral properties and disease state. I am working in collaboration with the Butcher group in the School of Biomedical Engineering, where we have obtained a set of calcified human heart valve samples with associated patient data ready for spectroscopic analysis.

Chih-Yi (Joyce) Wang

Previous Education: National Tsing Hua University, B.S. Materials Science and Engineering  (2021)

My research interest is exploring intrafibrillar collagen mineralization using Osteopontin (OPN) in the presence of cells to study the behavior of calcific heart valves as a function of mineralization. The current techniques I’m using are scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and Raman.

Undergraduate Students

Name Education

Jessica Xiang

Education: Cornell University, Materials Science and Engineering

The research topic I'm currently working on is investigating the nonclassical coccolith formation mechanism under synthetic experimental conditions. By studying chemical interaction between patterned organic baseplates (made by micro-contact-printing SAMs) and macromolecule-modified coacervate attachments, we expect to control calcite nucleations at specific sites on interphase under laboratory conditions.

Mindy Li

Education: Cornell University, Materials Science and Engineering

My current research investigates the biomineralization found in diseased human aortic valves by using Raman microscopy and histology. The focus of this project is mapping mineral with various organic matrix species using metrics such as the spatial address of the mineral in the valve. We can better understand how these characterization techniques complement each other and identify further regions of interest for Raman study.

Last Revised: 2022/02/25