CAST started as a core group of faculty researchers and students from the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and Department of Chemical Biochemical and Environmental Engineering, UMBC. With our 2007 expansion into a UMBC campus center, we now have faculty from several other affiliated departments and centers.

Research Faculty  

Assistant Research Scientists

Research Staff / Assistant

Mike Tolosa

Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr. Pegah Rezaei (she/her)

Pegah is a medical doctor currently working on developing a continuous blood CO2 monitoring device in the opioid crisis to follow the dynamic changes in blood gases which is safer and faster than current sensors. Her research is focused on how continuous glucose monitoring and the amount of hemoglobin A1c (glycated hemoglobin) relate to each other, especially in hemoglobinopathies. In her free time, she likes to read books, listen to podcasts, and go to the gym!

Dr. Sai Kiran Mani (she/her)

Sai is a post doctoral student currently working on development of biologic sensors. Her research is primarily focused on synthesis of polymer-based composites for defluoridation, computational modeling and spectroscopic analysis of adsorbents for fluoride binding and development of fixed-bed column filters for water purification.

Learn more about Sai’s research here!

Graduate Students

Shayan Borhani (he/him)

Shayan is a Chemical Engineering PhD student advised by Dr. Govind Rao with research interests in chemical and bioprocess engineering. He is currently developing a low-cost point of care (POC) manufacturing platform that can produce biosimilar insulin on a time scale of hours or days to address the rising costs of insulin whilst promoting drug accessibility. His work includes developing a novel, low-cost, and POC bioprocess for insulin by leveraging cell-free systems (CFS). In his free time, Shayan enjoys recreating meals that he has come across during his travels and addressing complex home improvement projects (involving multiple runs to Home Depot!)

Point-of-care production of therapeutic proteins of good-manufacturing-practice quality
R Adiga, M Al-Adhami, A Andar, S Borhani, S Brown… – Nature Biomedical Engineering, 2018

Improving the recombinant human erythropoietin glycosylation using microsome supplementation in CHO cell‐free system
C Gurramkonda, A Rao, S Borhani, M Pilli, S Deldari… – Biotechnology and bioengineering, 2018

Modeling transcriptional factor cross-talk to understand parabolic kinetics, bimodal gene expression and retroactivity in biosensor design
H Aris, S Borhani, D Cahn, C O’Donnell, E Tan, P Xu – Biochemical Engineering Journal, 2019

Manufacturing biological medicines on demand: Safety and efficacy of granulocyte colony‐stimulating factor in a mouse model of total body irradiation
R Adiga, A Andar, S Borhani, D Burgenson, S Deldari… – Biotechnology Progress, 2020

Hasib Hasan (he/him)

Hasib is an Electrical Engineering PhD student advised by Dr. Gary Carter with a research interest in biosensor development and prototyping. He is currently developing a multi-channel biochemistry analyzer, in the form of an optical sensor based on periplasmic binding proteins like glucose binding proteins. His work aims to monitor glucose in bioprocesses with the intention of upgrading this to a multi-channel biochemistry analyzer commercialized for both bioprocess and healthcare applications. In his free time, he likes to travel, listen to music, and garden indoors!

Md Sadique Hasan (he/him)

Sadique is an Electrical Engineering PhD student advised by Dr. Govind Rao with research interests in sensor and biosensor development, microfluidic device development, hardware and software validation, and data analysis and machine learning on sensor data. He is currently developing a system featuring microfluidics and a multichannel fluorometer to increase the rate of contamination detection. He is working on bioburden testing in clean drinking water and machine learning on the sensor data to automate bioburden classification for application in laboratory, pharmaceutical, and field settings. In his free time, he loves to play soccer, FIFA, and explore new places!

Wood Microfluidics
Abhay Andar, Md-Sadique Hasan, Venkatesh Srinivasan…
Analytical Chemistry 2019 91 (17), 11004-11012. DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.9b01232

Rapid Ultrasensitive and High-Throughput Bioburden Detection: Microfluidics and Instrumentation
Md Sadique Hasan, Monireh Marsafari, Michael Tolosa… Analytical Chemistry 2022 94 (24), 8683-8692. DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.2c00980

Microwave induced thermally assisted solvent-based bonding of biodegradable thermoplastics: an eco-friendly rapid approach for fabrication of microfluidic devices and analyte detection. Hasan, M.S., Borhani, S., Ramamurthy, S.S… Sci Rep 12, 16075 (2022).

Aaron Thole (he/him)

Aaron is a Chemical Engineering PhD student co-advised by Dr. Govind Rao and Dr. Douglas Frey with a research interest in the use of chromatography in biosensor applications. He is currently developing a low-cost, chromatography-based system for the broad-spectrum detection of viruses. In his free time, he enjoys watching horror movies and baking!

Vida Rahmatnejad (she/her)

Vida is a Chemical Engineering PhD student advised by Dr. Govind Rao with a research interest in noninvasive process monitoring for cell therapy applications. She received her Bachelors degree in biomedical engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic) in Iran, and previously conducted research at Clemson University in fabricating 3D tissues via hydrogels and microfibers. She is currently developing a method for noninvasive measurement of dissolved oxygen, dissolved carbon dioxide, and pH in order to produce a system capable of monitoring cell culture parameters in a manner that reduces risk of cross-contamination for applications in optimizing cell therapy. In her free time, she loves to read books, watch movies, bake, and spend time with her husband. She also enjoys swimming, playing volleyball, and sightseeing!

Revati Kadolkar (she/her)

Revati is a Chemical Engineering PhD student co-advised by Dr. Govind Rao and Dr. Douglas Frey with research interests in downstream processing of biologics, application of scientific machine learning for the modeling of chromatography, design and fabrication of microfluidic chromatography columns, and development of chromatography sensors for in-line monitoring. Her current project focuses on the application of mechanistic modeling for continuous purification of biologics obtained from cell-free systems. In her free time, she loves to paint, travel, play basketball and cook traditional Indian dishes!

Vikash Kumar (he/him)

Vikash is a Chemical Engineering PhD student advised by Dr. Govind Rao with a research interest in developing a membrane platform bioreactor for cell-based and cell-free recombinant protein synthesis. He is currently developing a bioreactor that replaces the traditional steel and glass walls with engineered membranes that can selectively allow gaseous substrates like oxygen and carbon dioxide to flow through. His work involves designing and exploring variants of biocompatible silicone membranes to achieve a bioreactor system with reduced oxygen and carbon dioxide tension. In his free time, Vikash likes to read (especially Murakami and Kazuo Ishiguro), watch soccer and cricket, and spend time exploring new scenic spots in the Baltimore County area!

Chad Sundberg (he/him)

Chad is an Environmental Engineering PhD student advised by Dr. Govind Rao with research interests in: bioenergy, sustainability, environmental contaminant sensing and remediation, cell-free systems, synthetic biology, molecular biology, and metabolic engineering. In his free time, he likes to go rock climbing, skiing, trail running, and biking!

Zach Sheffield (he/him)

Zach is a Chemical Engineering PhD student advised by Dr. Govind Rao with research interests revolving around developing point-of-care and wearable biosensors for neuropsychiatric biomarkers. He is currently working on inkjet-printing organic electrochemical transistor arrays for the multiplex detection of cortisol and neuropeptide-y in sweat. In his free time, he likes to play video games and watching the latest movie/show on streaming services. However, when he has the time, his favorite activities include listening to his record-player, drawing, and painting!

“Kelly” Yunqian Wei (she/her)

Kelly is a Chemical Engineering PhD student advised by Dr. Govind Rao. She is interested in implementing sensing capabilities to culture flasks (especially Grex) to improve process understanding and develop soft sensors to enable process decision-making without sampling. Her work aims to contribute to the overall automation trend as well as the effort of meeting current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) requirement and reducing operational risk. Applications include treatments like adoptive T cell therapy (ACT), in which Chemistry, Manufacturing and Conotrol (CMC) plays a critical role in patient access. Adding monitoring capabilities to convenient and high throughput flasks can improve not only robustness and scalability, but ultimately patient safety and efficacy. In her free time, she likes reading and listening to music!

Undergraduate Students

Christopher Slaughter (he/him)

Chris is a senior at UMBC majoring in Computer Engineering, mentored by Hasib Hasan and Dr. Govind Rao. His research interests include bioelectronics, biomedical devices, sensors, and systems, as well as point-of-care technologies. He is working on the automatic glucose monitoring project at CAST, which utilizes glucose binding proteins (GBP) to integrate an aseptic sampling technique to automatically and continuously monitor glucose in a bioprocess. In his free time, he enjoys taekwondo, traveling, and attending hackathons!

Elias Gilotte (he/him)

Elias is a freshman at UMBC majoring in Chemical Engineering, mentored by Chad Sundberg and Dr. Govind Rao, with a research interest in biotechnology. In his free time, he likes to hike and take care of his pet reptiles!