Prof Rein Ulijn PhD Msc FRSC FRSE
Rein Ulijn is developing peptide nanotechnology. The fundamental research question that drives his work is how the molecular building blocks of life can be repurposed and simplified to produce new sustainable materials and technologies with properties and functions that cannot be achieved using existing design approaches. The resulting materials can be produced from sustainable sources and are finding wide-ranging applications ranging from energy harvesting, to sustainable plastics, personal care, sensing, biomedicine. He is founding Director of the Nanoscience Initiative at the Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) at CUNY, New York. Prof. Ulijn has held several personal fellowships and has won a number of awards, including the RSC Norman Heatley Medal (2013), Royal Society Merit Award (2014) and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He is the Einstein Professor of Chemistry at Hunter College of CUNY.
2019-present: Director of the ASRC Sensor CAT (Center for Advanced Technology), Advanced Science Research Center, City University of New York (CUNY).
2014-present: Director of the Nanoscience Initiative, Advanced Science Research Center, CUNY.
2014-present: Albert Einstein Professor of Chemistry, Hunter College, CUNY.
2008-2017: Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, WestCHEM, University of Strathclyde, UK.
2012-2014: Vice Dean Research (Science), University of Strathclyde.
2006-2008: Associate Professor and EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow, School of Materials & Interdisciplinary Biocentre (MIB), University of Manchester, UK.
2003- 2006: Assistant Professor in Biomedical Materials, School of Materials, UMIST/University of Manchester.
2001-2003: Postdoctoral research associate, School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh, UK. Advisor: Prof. Sabine Flitsch.
1998- 2001: PhD Physical Chemistry, University of Strathclyde, UK. Advisor: Prof. Peter J. Halling and Dr. Barry D. Moore.
1993-1998: MSc Biotechnology, University of Wageningen, NL.
American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Materials Research Society (MRS)
Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) (Fellow since 2008)
Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) (Fellow since 2014)
Fellowships and Awards:
2021: Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship
2020: World Science University Faculty
2020: Batsheva de Rothschild Fellowship
2014: Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE)
2014: Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award
2014: RSC Emerging Technologies Award
2013: RSC Norman Heatley Prize
2010: ERC Consolidator Grant
2009: NW Biomedical Awards for Innovation
2008: Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC)
2007: Macro Group UK Young Researchers Medal
2007: Leverhulme Trust Leadership Award
2006: EPSRC Advanced Research Fellowship
Dr Jiye Son
Jiye is the Associate Director for the Nanoscience Initiative and the ASRC Sensor CAT. She oversees the daily operation of the Initiative and provides support for faculty, staff, postdocs, and students. As one of the first Ph.D. candidates to complete her dissertation at the ASRC, she continues to actively engage with scientists at ASRC and innovative start-ups in NYC to foster multi-disciplinary research. Her research focuses on the investigation and application of enzyme responsive peptide nanomaterials, which she developed during her Ph.D. under the co-supervision of Prof. Ulijn and Prof. Maria Contel of Brooklyn College. Prior to starting graduate school, Jiye received her B.Sc. in chemistry from Stony Brook University and was an employee of the Product Safety and Toxicology Department of The Estee Lauder Companies in Melville, NY.
Dr Vignesh Athiyarath
Vignesh obtained B.Sc. degree in Chemistry from S.N.G.S. College Pattambi, (Kerala, India). He joined as a first Integrated MS-PhD student at IISER Thiruvananthapuram, in School of Chemistry. He completed PhD in 2020, working with Prof. Kana M. Sureshan. During PhD he worked on the synthesis of peptido- and carbohydrate-mimetics. He used topochemical polymerization strategy for the synthesis of peptidomimetics, and conventional multi-step synthetic organic chemistry approach for the synthesis of carbohydrate-mimics. He also elucidated properties of these synthesized novel biomimetics in a material-chemistry and biological point of view. In 2021, he joined ASRC, CUNY (New York, USA) as a joined postdoctoral research associate with Prof. Rein Ulijn and Prof. Xi Chen. His work is focussed on development of chemo-mechanical peptide actuators by induced fit concept.
Dr Maeva Coste
Maeva obtained a BSc and MSc in organic chemistry and chemistry of biomolecules at the University of Montpellier, France. Then, she pursued and received her Ph.D. in Chemistry, Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Montpellier. Her Ph.D. was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Sebastien Ulrich in the Institut des Biomolecules Max Mousseron (IBMM). Her thesis projects were focused on the design, synthesis and characterization of programmed and DNA-templated self-assemblies aromatic-peptide conjugates. She joined Prof. Rein Ulijn's group in 2022 as a Postdoctoral Research Associate to investigate peptide self-assemblies and their properties.
Dr Soeun Gim
Soeun obtained her BSc and MSc in Chemical and Biomolecular engineering in Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). After working in industry, she moved to Germany to pursue her PhD at Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces under the supervision of Dr. Martina Delbianco and Prof. Dr. Peter. H. Seeberger. Her research focused on synthetic carbohydrate-based materials as models to describe natural carbohydrate assemblies. In 2022, she joined Prof. Rein Ulijn's group as a postdoctoral research associate to explore programmable peptide assemblies with stimuli responsiveness and their properties.
Dr Ankit Jain
Ankit obtained his B.Tech degree in Bio-technology from SASTRA University, India. In 2011, he joined Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, India as a Ph.D. student under Prof. Subi J. George. His research work focused on dynamic charge transfer aggregates and temporal control of their self-assembly. He has also worked on clay-chromophore conjugates and their pertinent photo-chemistry. Currently, he is working with Prof. Rein Ulijn as a postdoctoral research associate at ASRC, CUNY. His work mainly focuses on development of dynamic peptide libraries towards answering questions pertaining to chemical origin of life.
Dr Salma Kassem
Salma obtained her BSc and MSc from the University of Geneva. Her Master's thesis was conducted under the supervision of Prof. Stephen Hanessian at the University of Montreal. After working for a year as a Medicinal Chemistry Intern at Hoffmann-La Roche in Basel, she joined Prof. David A. Leigh's group at the University of Manchester as a PhD student. Her research focused on the development of molecular machines for the transport and synthesis of small-molecules. After graduating, she stayed on as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Leigh group to investigate new designs of molecular pumps and their application in the unidirectional transport of molecular cargoes. Salma joined Prof. Rein Ulijn's group in 2019 as a Research Associate to work on the discovery of new properties of self-assembling structures using dynamic peptide libraries.
Dr Deborah Sementa
Deborah received her Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of Naples - Federico II with a thesis on the construction of multifunctional molecular tools with improved efficacy, pharmacokinetic properties and targeted delivery. As part of her Ph.D. studies, she has been a visiting scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working in the field of flow-based peptide/protein synthesis and Chemical Biology. Then, she joined RCSI as a Marie Curie Post-doctoral Research Fellow, where she gained expertise in design and synthesis of new Phase Transfer Catalysts. Her research focuses on the combination of solid-phase and solution-phase methods for the generation of valuable chemical devices.
Dr Mona Tayarani Najjaran
Mona completed her PhD in nanotechnology and material chemistry at The City University of New York. Her PhD research was focused on discovery of visible fluorescence short tripeptides under supervision of Prof Rein Ulijn at ASRC. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher in Rein Ulijn's group to continue her research on the application of these fluorescent peptide nanoparticles in bio-imaging and biomedical field. She obtained her BSc and MSc in Iran. Her previous work was focused on anticancer activity of different ranges of organic and inorganic compounds.
Naxhije (Gia) Berisha
Naxhije received her BA in Biochemistry at Hunter College. In her first two years as a Nanotechnology graduate student at the Graduate Center, she worked with Dr. Charles M. Drain and collaborated with Dr. Moritz F. Kircher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer center in a project using silicated gold nanoparticles for applications in precision imaging of tumors. She also previously worked on porphyrin conjugates for applications in imaging and PDT. She has, since, branched out and is currently in Prof. Rein Ulijn's lab working on peptide nanoparticles. She is interested in nanotechnology, imaging, bio-engineering and cancer research.
Sankarsan Biswas obtained his B.Sc. in Chemistry from University of Calcutta, India in 2014 and M.Sc in Chemistry from Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) in 2017. During his B.Sc. and M.Sc he worked on several short term research projects including his one year Master's thesis in Organic Chemistry (Photocatalysis). After his M.Sc, he joined the PhD program in Chemistry offered by CUNY. He is currently working on supramolecular nanomaterials in Professor Adam Braunschweig and Professor Rein Ulijn's group at the ASRC.
Dhwanit was born and raised in Mumbai, India. He completed his undergraduate studies in chemistry at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, during which time he worked on understanding the effect that transition metal salts had on non-ionic surfactants and tried to develop an extraction tool for metal ions based on this knowledge. He also actively edited and worked for various departmental magazines of the college and outreach programs of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. He joined the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai for his M.Sc. in Chemistry where he worked on the synthesis and characterisation of photoswitchable ligands and metal complexes. During this time he was awarded a prestigious summer research fellowship by the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore to work on the synthesis, structural and photophysical characterization of the Green Fluorescent Protein chromophore derivatives. He also served as the class representative for his masters cohort. In the Fall of 2018, he joined the doctoral program in chemistry at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and is currently working with Professor Rein Ulijn at the Advanced Science Research Center. His research interests include supramolecular self-assembly, systems chemistry, metal-organic frameworks and stimuli-responsive materials.
Hailin (Richard) Huang
Richard is a PhD student in the Ulijn group. Co-advised by Dr. Stephen O'Brien from CDI of City College, he currently is working on the design and synthesis of enzyme responsive peptide functionalized gold nanoparticles for cancer theranostics. Prior to joining CUNY's PhD program, Richard received his B.S. in biochemistry from Miami University and M.S. in chemistry from Long Island University. Besides research, Richard likes hiking and travelling.
Yaron is a PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Rein Ulijn and Prof. Maria Contel at Brooklyn College. His research focuses on the synthesis and delivery of anti-cancer organometallic compounds using self-assembling peptides as nanocarriers. Prior to joining CUNY's PhD program, Yaron received his bachelors degree in Chemistry and Film from Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Besides research, Yaron enjoys listening to music, hiking and beating Elad and Avi at Smash.
Doug holds a B.S. Degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Connecticut and a M.S. Degree in Biotechnology from the City College of New York. Doug is a PhD student in Biochemistry and a researcher in the Ulijn lab. Doug's research is focused on two projects: tissue engineering and enzyme-responsive nanomaterials. The tissue engineering project involves the use of self-assembling peptides to form a scaffold for the culture and maintenance of primary human cells. These scaffolds can be customized in composition in order to provide the cells with all of the signals required for survival and function. The enzyme-responsive nanomaterials project involves the design and application of peptide-based probes that release a signal when exposed to enzymes characteristically expressed by metastatic cancers. This nanoscale technology permits non-invasive detection of metastasis. His research interests include tissue engineering, biomaterials, regenerative medicine, nanotechnology, peptide self-assembly, and synthetic biology.
Elma Naranjo Estepa
Elma obtained her B.S. and MSc. in chemical engineering from Universidad Nacional of Colombia. Her master's thesis was conducted under the supervision of Professor Jairo Perilla. In 2021 she joined CCNY's Ph.D. program. She is currently working on the pre-organization and induced fit in chemo-mechanical peptide materials under the supervision of Professor Xi Chen and Professor Rein Ulijn at the ASRC. Besides research, Elma enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing basketball.
Shejla is a visiting graduate student from Dr. Donna McGregor's lab at Lehman College. She received her BA with a focus in Chemistry at Sarah Lawrence College. In her first two years as an Inorganic Chemistry graduate student at the Graduate Center, she worked with her current adviser and Dr. Lynn Francesconi (Hunter College) on investigating Keggin polyoxometalates as metal oxide models for the binding and stability of Technetium-99. She is currently working on the self-assembly and conductivity of Fmoc- Histidine- and Aspartic Acid- tripeptides for novel fuel cell applications, in collaboration with the Ulijn Lab and Dr. Miguel Modestino's lab at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Outside of the lab, her interests include science policy, science communication, and STEM entrepreneurship.
Maithreyi graduated with a Masters degree from Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences, Mumbai, India. Over the course of her degree, she was selected to work on a funded project for her Masters dissertation under Prof. David Smith at the University of York, UK, on two component supramolecular gels. She has also worked on the effect of curcumin in modifying the pathway of HEWL aggregation. In her undergraduate years, she was selected for National Initiative on Undergraduate Science, which provides undergraduate students with research opportunities. During this, she worked on synthesizing nanomaterials which have potential applications in effluent purification. Her research interests include enzyme responsive materials, and self-assembly.
After graduating from the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College with a B.A. in Chemistry, Sheehan has remained in CUNY to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry. As an undergraduate, he worked on designing a system using di-phenylalanine gels to trap small molecules in solution. Currently, he is involved in the structural analysis of short-peptide supramolecular structures using Cryo-TEM.
Kenny is an Undergraduate at Hunter college with high hopes of obtaining his Bachelors to his PhD in the nearby future. Before obtaining a Research position in Prof. Rein Ulijn's lab, He volunteered to do chemical engineering work at Pfizer inc. in Peapack New Jersey where he learned greater in-depth detail of spectroscopy and advances in chemical technology that speeds up chemical processes that can take days to complete into just a few hours. Apart from research, Kenny likes to play all kinds of sports like baseball, basketball and volleyball.
Leana is a senior in the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College. She is a biochemistry major with a sociology minor on the Pre-Medical track. Leana joined the Ulijn Lab in the Fall of 2020 and is working on the liquid-liquid phase separation of peptides. Her previous research focused on the effect of herbal medicine in cancer patients as well as biomedical research at Columbia University Medical Center as part of the SPURS program. She hopes to attend medical school in the future and become a family practice physician. Aside from academics, Leana loves to dance, read, and also works as a waitress at her local bar and restaurant.
Anna was born in Paris, France and moved to the US in 2017. She is currently an undergraduate student at Hunter College, where she is majoring in chemistry and minoring in math. Anna joined the Ulijn Lab in 2020 as part of her undergraduate research, where she is working on self-assembling peptides.
Shadman is a rising senior in the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College, majoring in Biochemistry while pursuing the pre-medical track. My research interests include melanin like peptide materials and their composites with carbon nanotubes. Some of my hobbies are running and playing the guitar.
Cooper is an undergraduate student at the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College. He is majoring in biochemistry with a minor in music on the pre-med track. He will be starting research the summer of 2021, working alongside Fahmeed Sheehan. Cooper also is a setter on the Hunter College Volleyball team.
Sadiyah was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently pursuing a major in biomedical engineering, and a minor in art at the City College of New York. She is a research assistant at the Eisele Group at CDI, and is working on a project pertaining to the synthesis of plexcitonic particles using gold and silver nanoparticles. Sadiyah joined the Ulijn Lab as part of the CUNY Summer Undergraduate Research Program, and is working with her mentors on designing self-assembling peptides for imaging in ovarian cancer. Apart from research, Sadiyah has a passion for art and fitness.
Rodolphe Sossou Tchatcha
Rodolphe was born and raised in Benin Republic, West Africa, where he completed his High School Diploma. He moved to the US in 2018 and grappled with a new culture, and a new language. Six months later, he passed the CUNY Assessment Test at Hostos Community College and majored in Liberal Arts and Science harbouring a desire to transfer into Biological Sciences program. Over the summer 2020, he received an internship to the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC) through CUNY Science Undergraduate Research Program (CSURP). There, he joined Prof. Ulijn's lab and, under the mentorship of Fahmeed Sheehan, he conducted research on the design of short peptides mimicking the function of antifreeze proteins, and their application in the treatment of frostbite and in cryomedicine. Outside research, he enjoys playing soccer and biking.