Carousel imageCarousel imageCarousel imageAguado Lab PhD rotation students (fall and winter)
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Anthem: Lost in Yesterday, Tame Impala
Hobbies: Surfing, Olympic weightlifting, hiking, salsa dancing, live music

Brian Aguado, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Brian Aguado (Twitter: @BrianAguado) is currently an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at UC San Diego, where his laboratory research is focused on studying sex differences in cardiovascular disease using biomaterial technologies. Dr. Aguado completed his BS degree in Biomechanical Engineering from Stanford University and his MS and PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University. He also obtained his certificate in Management for Scientists and Engineers from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. He finished his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he received postdoctoral awards from the National Institutes of Health and Burroughs Wellcome Fund to support his research. Dr. Aguado is also a dedicated science communicator outside of the lab and seeks to engage historically excluded and marginalized populations in the sciences. He co-founded LatinXinBME (Twitter: @LatinXinBME), a new social media initiative dedicated to building a diverse and inclusive community of Latinx biomedical engineers and scientists to support each other personally and professionally through their careers.

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Anthem: Get Along, Kenny Chesney
Hobbies: Rock climbing, watching movies, hiking, and traveling

Brandon Vogt

Staff Research Associate, Bioengineering

Brandon is working as a Staff Research Associate in the Aguado Lab at UC San Diego. Brandon graduated summa cum laude with honors from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a BS degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering and a minor in Biomedical Engineering. He spent two years volunteering in the Anseth Research Group, where he studied the effects of proinflammatory cytokines on aortic valve stenosis progression, while also pursuing his own thesis project to identify inflammatory serum factors that contribute to sex-specific aortic valve stenosis progression. Currently, Brandon is continuing to validate aortic valve stenosis patient serum factors as sex-specific drivers of myofibroblast activation using bioengineered hydrogels, with the ultimate goal of publishing his findings this year. He is also working to develop a high-throughput hydrogel system in order to increase the number of replicates used in future drug optimization experiments.

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Anthem: Sunshine, OneRepublic
Hobbies: Reading, salsa dancing, hiking, scoping out good coffee spots, and finding good tv shows to watch

Nicole E. Félix-Vélez

Ph.D Student, Bioengineering

Nicole is a first year PhD student and San Diego Predoctoral Fellow in the Department of Bioengineering at UC San Diego. Having started her college career in her homeland at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, she transferred to Cornell University where she obtained her BS in Biological Engineering. Nicole works in creating patient-specific in vitro models of aortic valve stenosis to understand how different biochemical cues can affect disease progression via epigenetic alterations. Aside from research, Nicole is passionate about communicating science and making it accessible to all. Additionally, she is determined in providing students the tools they need to succeed in their careers. She is involved in the Bioengineering Graduate Society Mentorship, Academic, and Professional Development committees and serves as Chair for its Diversity Committee.

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Anthem: Coat of Many Colors, Dolly Parton
Hobbies: Organizing my Spotify playlists, running, discovering funky ice cream flavors, and reading the NY Times.

Talia Baddour

Ph.D Student, Bioengineering

Talia Baddour is a first year PhD student in the Department of Bioengineering at UC San Diego. She graduated with honors from Lafayette College with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. At Lafayette, she completed a thesis in optimizing the mechanical characterization of agarose gel to improve brain tissue research. As a researcher, she is passionate about utilizing engineering as a tool to bring awareness to the mechanisms by which sex influences disease and subsequent therapeutics. Talia's research in the Aguado Lab is focused on using single cell and spatial RNA sequencing techniques to understand the sex-specific mechanisms by which Aortic Valve Stenosis progresses. Talia is also dedicated to mentorship and helping underrepresented students excel in STEM. She is involved in the UCSD Bioengineering Graduate Society Mentorship Committee and serves as the Women in Bioengineering chair of Professional Development. During the summer, she enjoys facilitating fun science projects at Camp Connect, a STEAM camp for high school students who identify as migrants.

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Anthem: Ready, Chaz French feat. Goldlink
Hobbies: Surfing, baking, live music, video games, watching the waves crash at Sunset Cliffs

Rayyan Gorashi

PhD Student, Bioengineering

Rayyan is a first year PhD student in the Department of Bioengineering at UC San Diego. She is also a GEM Associate Fellow and Racial Equity Fellow through the Jacobs School of Engineering. She earned her bachelor's degree at Johns Hopkins University in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and her master’s degree at Northwestern University in Biomedical Engineering. Her master’s thesis worked to create an in vitro model of diabetic endothelial cell dysfunction using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). In the Aguado Lab, Rayyan builds upon her experience with iPSCs in her efforts to create patient-specific models to further our understanding of sex differences in the development and progression of valvular disease. Outside of lab, Rayyan fuels her passion for outreach and mentorship through the Bioengineering Graduate Society (BEGS). In BEGS, she co-chairs the High School Outreach Committee, participates in the Mentorship Committee, Diversity Committee, and is chairing the newly created Professional Development Committee. She also mentors undergraduate engineering students through BEGS, Women in Bioengineering (WBE), and the Jacobs Undergraduate Mentorship Program (JUMP).

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Anthem: Pookie, Aya Nakamura
Hobbies: Swimming, hiking, finding local restaurants, making smoothies, and running

Steven Robles

UCSD Biomaterials REU Student


Bianca Peña

Rotation Student (Winter 2022)

Current position: PhD Student, UCSD BioE