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Holland Lab | Grad Students and Postdocs
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Grad Students and Postdocs

Kevin Chalek (Post-doc)

Kevin Chalek is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at San Diego State University. After getting his B.S. from the University of Miami in 2016, he attended the University of California, Riverside, getting his Ph.D. in Chemistry working in the lab of Len Mueller. His dissertation was titled “Using Solid-State Nuclear Magnetic Resonance to Relate Chemical Structure With the Function of Materials”. He is currently studying the relationship between the strength and structure of spider silk using solid-state NMR in Greg Holland’s lab.

Alexia de Loera (PhD student)

Alexia de Loera is a first year graduate student. She graduated with her BA in Chemistry from the University of San Diego in 2018. She went on to work for a CRO in Sorrento Valley and most recently works at Eli Lilly as an analytical chemist. She has joined Dr. Holland’s lab this year and will working on the silk project. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, baking and audiobooks.

Md Akherul Islam (MS student)

Md. Akherul Islam is a first-year MS student. Before joining the Holland lab at SDSU, Akherul worked as a researcher at Jeonbuk National University (JBNU) and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST). His research project focused on developing lightweight, high heat-dissipating bio-inspired composites for a printed circuit board with thermal conductivity. He also synthesized functionalized Ag nanoparticles with various shapes and sizes as well as composites with carbon nanospheres. In the Holland lab, he is working on the silk/HAP project.

hannah johnson smiling in front of trees

Hannah Johnson (PhD student)

Hannah Johnson is a 6th year JDP student. She graduated with a B.S. in Biochemistry from UCLA in 2015 where she gained an interest in electron microscopy. Before coming to SDSU, she worked at Expedeon assisting in the development of precast gels used for electrophoresis. In Dr. Holland’s lab, she is focused on combining electron microscopy and protein solution NMR to study liquid-liquid phase separation of native spider silk proteins. When not in lab, she enjoys hanging out at the dog beach with her pug, Bumble, and exploring the SD zoo with her nephews.

Ali Kiaeefar (PhD student)

Ali graduated with his MS degree in Analytical Chemistry from the Azad University of Mashhad, Iran in 2016. After graduation he worked at detergent industry as a Chemist in the research and development department. In Prof. Holland’s lab, he is working on the the molecular structure and dynamics of complex biological and technologically relevant materials (spider silk). In his leisure time, he like to try new hobbies to fulfill his life outside of work.

profile of yuan li smiling

Yuan Li (PhD student)

Yuan received her masters degree from Old Dominion University, where she worked in Dr. Jingdong Mao’s lab and studied the structure of natural organic matter such as soil, humic acid and kerogen with solid-state NMR. She then worked as an analytical chemist in the pharmaceutical industry in San Diego after graduation. In order to further her passion in research, she joined Holland’s group in fall 2017 to study bioinspired nanoparticles with advanced NMR and other up-to-date analytical techniques.

Lado Shapakidze (PhD student)

Lado is a first year JDP student. He started his academic journey at San Diego State University in Georgia and then participated in the exchange program on the main campus, where he worked in Professor Gregory Holland’s lab on synthesis of mesoporous silica nanoparticles. After receiving his B.S. degree in 2022, he pursued a PhD in Organometallic chemistry at Rutgers University, initially, and later transferred to SDSU, where he shifted his research focus to understanding the interactions between silica and hydroxyapatite nanoparticles with amino acids and peptides using Solid State NMR. Outside of his academic pursuits, he enjoys riding motorcycles, playing soccer, and spending time with his friends and cat, Sandro.