Mid-Atlantic BIOT Chapter Advisers



    William J. Kelly, Faculty Adviser 

    Dr. William Kelly is a professor of Chemical Engineering at Villanova University. Prior to this, he worked as a biochemical engineer at Merck and Company for ten years. Dr. Kelly teaches and does research in the areas of upstream and downstream bioprocessing, primarily for Biopharmaceutical production. Dr. Kelly and his colleagues at Villanova recently won the ASEE Martin award for classroom innovation. Dr. Kelly’s research most recently has focused on optimization of microbioreactors and alternating tangential flow for perfusion cell culture applications. Dr. Kelly is currently looking at ways to improve growth of Tcells for improved CART therapies. Dr. Kelly is an alternate councilor on the BIOT EXCOMM and serves as BIOT liason to ESBES (European Symposium for Biochemical Engineering Sciences).


    Bruno F. Marques, Industry Adviser

     Bruno Marques currently has a portfolio leadership role at GSK, where he serves as the single point-of-contact between therapy areas (with a focus on Respiratory disease) and the technology & science platforms, e.g. DMPK, Toxicology, CMC. Prior to that, Bruno led various Bioprocess Development teams toward regulatory filing and launch of commercial assets such as Tanzeum, Nucala, and Benlysta. He started his career at Merck & Co, after earning a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. Bruno enjoys teaching, mentoring, and giving back to the greater scientific community by directing a graduate course at Rutgers University and frequently chairing sessions at external conferences.


    Mid-Atlantic Student Officers



    Kelsey L. O'Donnell, President

    Kelsey is currently working on her Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering at Villanova University. She completed her B.S. in Biochemistry at Duquesne University and her M.S. in Biochemical Engineering at Villanova. She worked in chemical coatings and formulations at PPG Industries upon graduation, where she worked on automotive and additive manufacturing formulations. As a Master’s student, she collaboratively worked with the API-Large Molecule Group at Janssen Pharmaceutical on chromatography modeling. She grew up in the Philadelphia Suburbs and enjoys anything involving the mountains or shore.


    While just beginning, Kelsey’s research is focused on the characterization and functionalization of nanocellulose fibers for drug delivery applications.


    Jason Rossi, Vice President

    Jason is a 3rd year PhD candidate studying Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He grew up in Norton, Massachusetts and completed his undergraduate studies at Northeastern University in Boston. Jason enjoys remaining indoors and moving as little as possible. Recently, he has developed a passion for obscure Japanese kit-kat flavors, such as "sweet potato" and "soy flour".

    Jason’s research is focused on the impact of flow variations on thrombus formation in microfluidic devices. Additionally, Jason uses these same microfluidic techniques to study the impact of diseases states such as elevated cholesterol levels on platelet function and coagulation. Further, he focuses on adapting current lab technologies used for in vitro clotting studies for simplified use in clinical applications. Jason is also interested using microfluidic techniques to more completely elucidate the rheological behavior of clots, in situ. 


    Matthew W. Tucker, Web Master

    Matt is a 3rd year Ph.D. Student Studying Biochemical Engineering at Villanova in the Elmer Lab.  His research focuses on the innate immune response of human cells to different engineered non-viral gene therapy vectors.  After cellular transfection, techniques such as RNA Seq and ELISAs are employed by Matt to investigate different cellular responses.  As a career scientist, he enjoys debating and/or explaining scientific phenomena with professors, colleagues, undergraduate students, and anyone who might be passing by the lab.  He also enjoys coming up with novel assays and outside the lab, he hikes, walks, and bikes a lot.  Combinatorial treatment with travel and photography are go to treatments for accumulated stress for Matt. 


    Matt’s family are from southern Indiana, but he grew up predominantly overseas, spending much of his childhood in Brussels, Belgium.  He obtained his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia where he spent most of his time diving into the field of Synthetic Biology (on 2 iGEM research teams).   


    Chris Verni, Recruiting Lead 

    Chris is a 3rd year PhD candidate studying Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He originally grew up in Medway, MA, and then completed his undergrad degree at Lafayette College in Easton, PA. In his spare time, Chris enjoys staying active through playing sports like soccer and basketball or outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing. He also has recently taken up an interest in home-brewing beer and likes to travel to new places as much as possible.


    The main focus of Chris’s research is to use previously developed techniques to construct and study patient-specific platelet phenotypes. Pairwise agonist scanning (PAS) produces experimental data from single and pairwise combinations of various platelet agonists and artificial neural networks can be used as a machine learning technique to learn from the data and make predictions of intracellular calcium mobilization levels in more complex combinatorial spaces and disease states. Chris is also interested in understanding the role of fibrin degradation products in various platelet signaling events, specifically trauma-induced coagulopathy.

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    Elisa Ovadia, Communications Lead

    Elisa is a 5th year Ph.D. candidate studying Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware. She is originally from Los Angeles, California and completed her undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Elisa enjoys visiting national parks and hiking.



    Elisa's research involves using synthetic hydrogel biomaterials for three-dimensional culture of cells towards disease modeling. She is investigating the use of peptide cell binding motifs for promoting viability of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in 3D microenvironments, and subsequently differentiating iPSCs into neural cells towards applications in neurodegenerative disease modeling and regeneration. Additionally, she is investigating the use of such hydrogel materials toward developing 3D breast cancer disease models towards studying breast cancer dormancy and recurrence.