Jenny completed her Ph.D. at Georgia Tech in Bioengineering followed by postdoctoral research at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland. She's a Fulbright and Whitaker Alumna and started at the University of Virginia in 2014, moving to Virginia Tech in 2017. She was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2020. Though she loves science and engineering, she also loves dancing with her daughter, travel, photography, and cooking.

Research Associates

Who we are

 

Principal Investigator

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Chase Dan
Dinner girls
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Going away
UVa Football
Lab dinner cville
Sadie Jenny talk
Jess Ali award
TECHgirls
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BME Tug of War 2015
Harry potter
Dan defense
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BMES 2017
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Lab Ali Chase
Rita Schaffer
BMES 2015
BME Graduation 2016
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BMES 2015
Tug of War 2015
BMES 2015
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Monét Roberts, PhD

Research Associate
Contact
CV
Joined: July 2019
Twitter: @PhunsizeDPhD

Monét Roberts is from Newnan, Georgia and received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2014 where her interest in pursuing a Ph.D. stemmed from working as an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Manu Platt’s lab studying HIV-mediated CVD.  Monét received her Ph.D. from the Nancy E. & Peter C. Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University, with Dr. Matthew Paszek’s lab on the role of the cancer glycocalyx in microvesicle shedding in the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering.  During her Ph.D., she received the Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral Fellowship as well as the NSF GRFP. As a postdoctoral research associate, Monét is exploring the role of lymphatics in glioblastoma and other pathologies. Outside of lab, Monét enjoys video chatting with her younger sister (who is 16 years younger than her),  playing with her Yorkie, BJ, playing video games, hanging out with friends, and all things fashion and natural hair. 

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Peng Jin, PhD

Research Associate

Contact

CV

Joined: February 2021

Google Scholar

Peng Jin was born and grew up in China. He received his Ph.D degree in Biomedical Science from Seoul National University, South Korea in 2018. During his Ph.D, he developed expertise studying how astrocyte-derived CCL20 reinforces hypoxic responses in glioblastoma. Then he started his postdoctoral research at UCSF in Dr.Rohit Bose Lab, studied hypermutated-prostate cancer evolution via organoids, cell lines and mouse models. From Feb.25, 2021, he joined Munson Lab and started his new scientific journey. Outside of science, Peng enjoys spending time with his son and family, also love snowboard and playing soccer.

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Gabriela Mendes, PhD

Research Associate

Contact

Joined: July 2021

Twitter: @gabigmends

Gabriela was born and raised in Brazil and received her BS in Biomedical Sciences (2013) and MS in Cell Biology (2015) from Federal University of Uberlandia. She then received a scholarship from the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) in 2015 and moved to the US to pursue her PhD. She attended the Genetics Program at Texas A&M University where her research focused on protein-based materials and neovascularization. She joined the Munson lab as a postdoctoral researcher  in July 2021 to work with CAR T-cell immunotherapy for glioblastoma. Outside the lab, Gabriela enjoys spending time with her husband, watching movies, traveling, doing embroidery, and video chatting with her family— especially with her niece and nephew.

Lab Manager

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Emily Walker

Lab Manager

Contact

Joined: March 2021

Emily is native to Roanoke, VA and received her BS in Biology from Radford University in 2019. Early on in her undergraduate education, she became fascinated with understanding how the human body works. Because of this, most of her coursework focused on human biology and medical laboratory science. Outside of science, Emily has a strong love for animals and most of her work history has been caring for animals in some capacity. She has cared for horses, dogs, cats, rodents, and several other species. In March 2021, she joined the Munson lab with the hope that she can use her passions to positively contribute to scientific discovery. In her free time, she loves hiking, cycling, running, riding her horse, and any activities that will allow her to be out in nature. 

Graduate Students

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Caleb Stine

Graduate Research Assistant

Contact

Joined: August 2017

Caleb was born and raised in Ohio and attended Ohio University where he received a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Following school, he worked as an engineer in the automotive and construction fields, but his desire to improve lives brought him to the biomedical field. He is excited to bring his background and experiences to the Munson lab to study the cancer cell microenvironment. In his free time, Caleb enjoys being outside, spending time with his wife and two cats, woodworking, and playing basketball.

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Kinsley Tate, M.S.

Graduate Research Assistant
Contact
Joined: August 2018
Twitter: @KinsleyTate1

Kinsley was born and raised in Wilmington, NC. She attended East Carolina University, where she completed her BS in Engineering and her MS in Biomedical Engineering. Kinsley is now pursuing her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, where she is studying the glioblastoma tumor microenvironment. Apart from lab, Kinsley enjoys spending time with her husband, hiking, painting and playing with her two dogs.

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Savieay Esparza

Graduate Research Assistant
Contact
Joined: August 2018

New Mexican from birth, Savieay attended New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, where he earned a BS in Biomedical Sciences with a concentration in Biochemical Engineering in 2018. 

He has joined the Munson and Verbridge labs to study lymphatic and endothelial interaction in a 3D model. When not in the lab, Savieay loves to  spend time wife his wife, cook "Xmas" style  with (Hatch Red and Green Chile), play soccer, racquetball, board/video games, and hike.

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Naciye Atay

Graduate Research Assistant
Contact
Joined: August 2018

A Turkish-American who lived most of her life in North Carolina, Naciye is a proud Tar Heel who earned a BS in Biomedical and Health Sciences Engineering from the Joint Department of BME at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. Afterwards she ventured to Blacksburg to pursue her PhD in the Munson Lab. Her research focuses on understanding the role of CXCL12 and CXCR4 in flow-mediated glioma invasion. Outside of the lab she is a complete adrenaline junkie, although she also enjoys more normal activities such as photography and watching Turkish soap operas.

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Cora Carman Esparza

Graduate Research Assistant
Contact
Joined: January 2019
Twitter: @cora_esparza

Cora received her bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in May of 2018. Since then, she has married and moved from her hometown of Rio Rancho, NM to Blacksburg, VA to pursue her PhD in Biomedical Engineering. During her time in the Munson lab, she will study vasculature in in vivo and in vitro models. Outside of research, Cora and her husband have a vast list of entertainment activities, some of which include: board games, water sports, racquetball, gardening, and cooking. Cora is an NSFGRFP Awardee!

Jennifer Hammel

Graduate Research Assistant
Contact
Joined: Fall 2020
@JennHammel11

Jenn received her BS in Bioengineering from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. As an undergraduate, she was an NIH MARC scholar and studied the cross-talk between adipocytes and endothelial cells in an engineered adipose tissue model in the BellasFATLab. Her research interests include tissue engineeeing, in vitro disease models, and cell-cell communication. She will now move to Roanoke, VA to pursue her PhD in Biomedical Engineering in the Munson Lab as a VT ICTAS Doctoral Scholar. Outside of the lab, Jenn enjoys hiking, reading true crime and mystery novels, and playing with her two cats. 

Aileen Suarez

Graduate Research Assistant
Contact
Joined: Fall 2020

Aileen is from Miami, Florida, and graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering in 2019. She is excited to join the Munson and STRETCH lab to study lymphatic interactions in female reproductive tissue. Outside of science she enjoys spending time with family, dancing, critiquing movies, and going to art museums.

Yamilet Macias-Orihuela

Graduate Research Assistant
Contact
Joined: Fall 2020

Yamilet is a graduate of the Biological Systems Engineering program at Virginia Tech. She will be pursuing a master's of science in the OEL focusing on cancer tissue engineering with new biomaterials. 

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Samantha Howerton

Graduate Research Assistant
Contact
Joined:  June 2021

Samantha is a West Virginia native that has been asking questions about disease physiology since high-school A&P. She began studying cancer biology as an undergraduate at Concord University and has joined the Munson lab to characterize the glioblastoma microenvironment for treatment development. Samantha is pursuing her Ph.D. in Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health from Virginia Tech. Outside of the lab, Samantha greatly enjoys creative activities like colored pencil drawing and 3D modeling, but most of all adventuring with her husband and reading Tolkien together.

Undergraduate Students

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Sruthi Kancherla

Undergraduate Research Assistant
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Class of 2022
 

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Hannah Schwenker

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Class of 2022

Shivanie Kodikalla

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Class of 2023

Ghaidaa Al Khafaji

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Class of 2022