Four from MIT named 2017 Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows

April 24, 2017

Left to right: Freddy Nguyen and Danielle Mai of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Julianne Troiano and Liela Bayeh of the Department of Chemistry have been named Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows. Photo: Melanie Kaufman

This article was originally featured on the MIT News Page.

Danielle Mai and Freddy Nguyen from the MIT Department of Chemical Engineering, along with Liela Bayeh and Julianne Troiano of the Department of Chemistry, were awarded 2017 Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellowships. The two-year, competitive program will support each researcher’s continuing work in their corresponding labs.

Danielle Mai of the Brad Olsen lab is developing bioinspired polymers for rapid and selective removal of biological toxins. This technology could critically enable bioseparations ranging from biotoxin removal to blood-based diagnostics to therapeutic monoclonal antibody purification. After her postdoc, she plans to continue her research at the intersection of polymer science, biophysics, and materials engineering as a new investigator. She earned her PhD in chemical engineering in 2016 from the University of Illinois.

Freddy Nguyen, a member of the Michael Strano lab, is working to develop nanoscale molecular sensors for probing cancer tumors and their microenvironments. He would like to implant nanosensors inside tumors to measure their response, at the molecular level, to various cancer therapies such as chemotherapeutics and radiation therapy. In 2016, he earned his medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and in 2015 received a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Liela Bayeh is currently a researcher in Stephen Buchwald's lab in the Department of Chemistry. She is developing new catalytic processes for organic synthesis using Earth-abundant base metal catalysts. These new processes would potentially provide streamlined routes to valuable commodity and fine chemicals, as well as pharmaceuticals. After her postdoctoral work, she plans to pursue a career in academic research where she can independently study and develop new methodologies for organic synthesis. Bayeh earned her PhD in organic chemistry in 2016 from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

Julianne Troiano of the Gabriela Schlau-Cohen lab is working on uncovering the nanoscale structural dynamics behind the initial steps of bacterial chemotaxis. Through chemotaxis bacteria are able to identify and move towards favorable conditions for growth and proliferation, making chemotaxis a key initial step in the development of a bacterial infection. As bacteria evolve resistance to antibiotic treatments, a mechanistic understanding of chemotaxis could provide new strategies to combat bacterial infections at an early stage in development. Troiano plans to seek a position at an academic institution where she can establish a research and teaching program that reflects her passion for interdisciplinary research and science communication. She earned her PhD from Northwestern University in 2016.

Said Nguyen, “I am very thankful to the Arnold O. Beckman Foundation for this wonderful fellowship opportunity that will significantly contribute to my professional development to becoming an independent physician-scientist as I work to develop my own research direction.”

His colleagues share his appreciation for this recognition.

“The Arnold O. Beckman Postdoctoral Fellows Award provides independence in my current research,” said Mai. “The diverse network of peers and mentors and flexibility to cultivate my research vision are assets as I prepare to apply for tenure-track faculty positions.”