James and Lorna Mack Chair in Bioengineering

Director, Health Research Institute

Professor, Chemical Engineering

Affiliate Professor, Biological Sciences


Spring 2024, top left to bottom right: Seth Kriz, Abigail Ruthenberg, Natalie Nold, Vaishali Sharma, Lynn Manchester, Bianca Mercado-Velez, Molly A. Skinner, Rohan Chaudhari, Alberto Mejia, Caryn L. Heldt, Madison Baldwin, Taravat Sarvari, and Idris Tohidian. Photo taken by Sarah Atkinson.

Current Members

Lynn Manchester - Research Tech

Lynn joined the lab in November 2021. She graduated from MTU with a BS in Microbiology. She enjoys getting out in the beautiful UP nature in all seasons.  

Alberto Mejia - Research Scientist

Alberto has a B.S., a M.Sc. and a PhD in Biotechnology from Mexico. He graduated from Universidad Politecnica de Pachuca and pursued his graduate studies at Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico. He performed a research stay at the Universidad de Chile and has worked in quality and food safety in the industry. His research experience relies on downstream processing, bioprocess optimization, and PEGylation as postdoctoral researcher. He joined the Heldt lab in Fall 2023 for working in the continuous purification of viral vaccines using Aqueous Two-Phase Systems (ATPS) and studying the principles related to it. Alberto likes reading science fiction novels and hiking.


Molly A. Skinner - Postdoctoral Scholar

Before joining the Heldt lab in Fall 2023, Molly earned her B.S. in Chemical Engineering, M.S. in Biomedical Engineering, and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from University of South Florida. Her research involves determining the structural and chemical differences between full and empty AAV capsids using atomic force microscopy. Molly is highly involved with SWE and enjoys yoga, baking, and watching Musical Theatre productions (she has seen 53 as of 2023).


Seth Kriz - PhD Student

Seth joined the lab as an undergraduate researcher in Fall 2017 and began his PhD in 2019. His research is aimed at modelling vaccine manufacturing in aqueous two-phase systems and measuring the surface chemistry of viruses using chemical force microscopy. Seth also sings with the Michigan Tech chamber choir, loves cooking, and is an avid hiker and backpacker.



Natalie Nold - PhD Student

Natalie started at the Heldt lab in Fall 2020 after working in the biopharmaceutical industry to purify early-stage antibody therapeutics. Now, she studies continuously-processing vaccine purification using aqueous two-phase systems. Outside of lab, Natalie enjoys getting outside to cross-country ski, ice skate, run, and kayak, depending on the season. 



Vaishali Sharma - PhD Student

Vaishali joined the Heldt Lab in Fall 2020 to pursue a PhD in Biological Sciences. Her research focuses on the efficacy and mechanism of various antiviral materials. Her previous research at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology,SD was to investigate the production of enzymes from bacteria by using lignocellulosic biomass. Outside of research, she loves to crochet, cook, and perform henna art. 



Bianca Mercado-Velez - PhD Student

Bianca joined the Heldt lab in Spring 2022 to pursue a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences. She graduated with a dual bachelors degree in Biomedical Sciences and Biotechnology from the University of Central Florida. Her doctoral research focuses on the biophysical properties of exosomes and their applications for targeted drug therapy. Bianca enjoys drawing, painting, and listening to music.



Taravat Sarvari - PhD Student

Taravat joined Heldt lab in Fall 2022. She has work experience in pharmaceutical industry to produce anti-cancer products. She studied her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Iran in Chemical Engineering and she worked on Hepatitis B vaccine production in Pasture Institute for her masters project.  She will be working on continuous purification of vaccines using aqueous two-phase systems. Outside of lab, Taravat enjoys reading, doing Zumba and playing sports like tennis, badminton and volleyball.


Idris Tohidian - PhD Student

Idris was a team leader in a pharmaceutical company that developed oncologic drugs in a cGMP environment. He joined the lab in the summer of 2023 to pursue his Ph.D. With a strong background in pharmaceutical development, Idris is now applying his expertise to improving vaccine thermostability. When he is not working on his research, Idris enjoys playing volleyball and tennis. 



Rohan Chaudhari - MS Student

Recent Past Members

Sneha Singh - MS Student


Oluwatoyin Areo, PhD

Pratik Joshi, PhD - Post Doc

Supreet Kaur - Research Scientist

Eric Pearson - MS Student

Dylan Turpeinen, PhD

Xue Mi, PhD

Christa Miengast, PhD

Ananya, MS