Research Associates


   Tyler Shelby
   RESEARCH ASSOCIATE
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  • Research Associate
  • PROJECT: "Nanosensors for the detection of Infectious Diseases".
  • MD-PhD Degree: Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT.
  • B. S. Degree: Biology and Chemistry at Pittsburg State University,Pittsburg, Kansas.
  • Bio..
    My name is Tyler Shelby, and I am currently pursuing a bachelor degree in Chemistry, with an emphasis in Biochemistry. I was born in Kansas, but spent a large portion of my childhood just outside of Denver, Colorado. I returned to Kansas as a teenager, and chose to continue my education at Pittsburg State University, originally having a special interest in entering the medical field. As I progressed through the course work in my degree, I became enamored with the science classes I took, and began to view them with pleasure, rather than just as requirements to move on to the next level of education. I soon began to look for opportunities to involve myself in laboratory settings, in order to gain hands-on experience. I now am hoping to pursue a dual M.D./Ph.D. degree after graduating from PSU. Having only recently joined Dr. Santra’s lab, my first project will be to develop a nanoprobe aimed towards targeted imaging and treatment of prostate cancer. The probe will be specifically designed to aid in MRI imaging, allowing the probe to only be activated once it has reached its target cancer cells, providing a greater contrast between the tumor cells and those around it. This mechanism may also be applied to therapy approaches involving chemotherapeutic drugs, including Olaparib. Before joining Dr. Santra’s lab, I gained experience under the instruction of other professors at PSU, including Drs. Zegar and McAfee, working with gene cloning in E. coli for various proteins. Outside of the classroom and laboratory, I enjoy outdoor activities, such as mountain/single-track biking, hiking, camping, and gardening, as well as other activities including reading, writing, and travelling, and have participated in medical internships in Belize and Paraguay. I am also a huge fan of playing music, and have been involved with PSU’s jazz band for the prior three years, as well as various musical groups outside of school, such as Sounds of Quincy.


   Dr. Tuhina Banerjee
   RESEARCH SCIENTIST
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  • Research Scientist
  • PROJECT: "Magnetic Nanosensors for Neuorodegenerative Disorders and Infectious Diseases".
  • Chemist: Department of Chemistry, Pittsburg State University, Kansas.
  • Post Doctorate: University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida.
  • Ph. D. Degree: Biophysical chemistry and Biochemistry from Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, India.
  • Bio..
    Resume
    Dr. Banerjee was born in Varanasi, India, and grew up in a small family with Parents and an elder sister. She completed her undergraduate (BS) and Master of Science (MS) degree in Chemistry and Biochemistry from Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi, India. After qualifying all-India-based GATE and NET-CSIR exams, she got selected in the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) for pursuing doctoral degree in 2001. At IIT-B, she joined Professor Nand Kishore’s biophysical chemistry and biochemistry laboratory. Her doctoral research was focused on the “Protein–Solvent Interactions and Molten Globule Intermediates: A Biophysical Approach”. After defending her Ph. D. thesis in 2006, Dr. Banerjee immediately joined Dr. Andrew Feig’s lab at the department of chemistry, Indiana University, Bloomington and then moved to Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, as a postdoctoral research associate. She then joined Dr. Ken Teter’s lab in the University of Central Florida in 2008. She is experienced in the determination of molecular interactions including protein-protein, RNA, DNA and other biological events responsible for various infectious diseases (Cholera, Crohn’s, Anthrax and others). In July, 2013, Dr. Banerjee joined department of chemistry, at the Pittsburg State University, in a Chemist position and responsible for research, instructions and laboratories.


   Gayathri Sadanala
   LAB WEB DEVELOPER
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  • Lab Web Developer
  • M. Tech Degree: Electronics Engineering Technology at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas.
  • B. Tech Degree: Computer Science and Engineering at Acharya Nagarjuna University, Andhra Pradesh, India.


Graduate Students


   Zachary Shaw
   M. S. STUDENT
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  • Graduate Researcher
  • PROJECT: “New polymeric nanomaterials for cancer treatment”.
  • M. S. Degree: Polymer Chemistry at Pittsburg State University,Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • B. S. Degree: Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry at Pittsburg State University,Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • Bio..
    My name is Zachary Shaw. I just recently obtained my B.S. Degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Biochemistry at Pittsburg State University. Currently I am pursuing an M.S. Degree in Polymer Chemistry also at PSU. As I completed my undergraduate chemistry courses, my interest narrowed to the subject of biochemistry where I specifically became interested in drug research and targeted drug delivery systems. My first experience in research was at the undergraduate level working with Dr. James McAfee and Dr. Irene Zegar. We worked on a project targeting the kinase domain of the HER2 receptor in HER2+ breast cancer. I learned how to screen molecule data banks using high throughput methods to efficiently find possible ligands that bind to the desired receptor. As I begin my M.S. Degree in Polymer Chemistry, I hope to continue this research under Dr. Santra at his laboratory. Beyond the classroom, I enjoy tinkering, 3D printing, hunting, fishing, and working on my ’82 Z28 Camaro. I also enjoy going to the gym and taking long walks with my girlfriend.

   Ren Bean
   M. S. STUDENT
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  • Graduate Researcher
  • PROJECT: “Development of new polymeric drug delivery system for the early diagnosis and targeted treatment of breast cancer.”        
  • M. S. Degree: Polymer Chemistry at Pittsburg State University,Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • B. S. Degree: Polymer Chemistry at Pittsburg State University,Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • Bio..
    My name is Ren Bean, and I was born and raised in Kansas. I am currently working on my Bachelor’s Degree in Polymer Chemistry (2013-2017) at the Pittsburg State University. My interest in chemistry began while still in high school. As I began my studies at the Pittsburg State University, it became apparent to me that I had an interest and passion for this field of study. When I heard about the new polymer chemistry program, I was thoroughly excited to become one of the first to declare this as my major emphasis of study. As the completion of all my required general education courses has arrived, I have been searching for an opportunity to learn more and find a place to become involved in someone’s meaningful research. I was very eager to meet Dr. Santra and learn what he was doing in the field of Nanotechnology and Cancer Research. I have, for a long time, been drawn to cancer research, knowing that at some point in my future, I would love to do my small part in helping to find a cure for cancer. Nanotechnology allows me to quench my thirst for working with polymers while also working in the area of cancer research. My current project is to develop a new polymeric drug delivery system for the early diagnosis and targeted treatment of breast cancer. I hope to be able to do this and other meaningful research throughout the rest of my time at Pittsburg State University. This would meet my goal of obtaining graduate degrees in polymer chemistry and continuing a lifelong career in research.


   Saloni Darji
   M. S. STUDENT
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  • Graduate Researcher
  • PROJECT: “New soft nanomedicine for the targeted treatment of cancer”.
  • M. S. Degree: Polymer Chemistry at Pittsburg State University, Kansas.
  • B. S. Degree: Biochemistry at M.G. science Institute, Ahmedabad, India.
  • Bio..
    Hello!!! Hello, my name is Saloni Darji and I am from Gujarat, India. I completed my Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry from M.G. science Institute, Ahmedabad, India. I always wanted to make my career in Research and Development. So, I decided to do my Master's from the United States of America, as there are lot of research opportunities which would help me hone my research skills. It was a benediction getting into the M.S. Polymer Chemistry program at Pittsburg State University. Drug designing and mechanism of drug action in the body and learning the etiopathogenesis of a disease has always been my interest areas. After getting into Pittsburg State University, I heard about many projects being carried out in different branches of chemistry and further came to know that Dr. Santra has been undertaking some great projects related to nanotechnology and biomedical field. Working in biomedical field is what I always dreamt of so, I approached Dr. Santra and requested him to give me a chance to be a part of his laboratory and I am glad that he accepted my request and allowed me to work under his guidance. I believe that nothing can be done without hope and confidence so I hope to make the most out of this opportunity and accomplish my goals.


   Bayan Dous
   M. S. STUDENT
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  • Graduate Researcher
  • PROJECT: “Activatable nanoprobes for cancer imaging”.         
  • M. S. Degree: Chemistry at Pittsburg State University,Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • B. S. Degree: Chemistry at Taibah University, KSA.
  • Bio..
    My name is Bayan Dous, a Saudi young girl. In an attempt to discover a small part of the huge chemical world, I performed scientific experiments during my undergraduate study in Chemistry from Taibah University in the KSA. In this research, I was working on the cation-exchange capacity of date seeds, which were used as a natural ion-exchanger. Then, I joined Chemistry department in Pittsburg State University for pursuing my MS degree. I'm happy to be a part of Dr. Santra's nanotheranostic laboratory, where I will have multiple research opportunities related to health, which would help developing my research skills and enhance my capacity to become a scientist.


   Momin Ansare
   M. S. STUDENT
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  • Graduate Researcher
  • PROJECT: "Polymeric nanomaterials for cancer treatment."
  • M. S. Degree: Chemistry at Pittsburg State University, Kansas.
  • B. S. Degree: Chemistry at University of Missouri Kansas City, Kansas City, Kansas.
  • Bio..
    Hello, my name is Momin Ansare. I am from Kansas City, Missouri. I completed my Bachelors of Science in Chemistry at the University of Missouri Kansas City and I completed my Associate of Science in Chemistry at Metropolitan Community College Kansas City. I plan to dedicate my life and career to researching material/chemical science applications to health and medical technology in order to hopefully do my share in reducing the amount of suffering for humankind in the future.


   Tanuja Tummala
   M. S. STUDENT
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  • Graduate Researcher
  • PROJECT: “Novel polymeric materials for biomedical applications”.
  • M. S. Degree: Polymer Chemistry at Pittsburg State University, Pitsburg, KANSAS
  • B. S. Degree: Pharmacy in India.
  • Bio..
    Hello, this is Tanuja Tummala, completed my Bachelors degree in Pharmacy and joined as a trainee in VETINDIA Pharmaceuticals Ltd in departments of Quality control and Manufacturing. Then I had a plan of doing Masters and came to know about Pittsburg State University. I’ve applied for MS Polymer chemistry program and got admitted. After coming here, I came to know about Dr. Santra and his research works and requested him to give me a chance to prove myself. Currently I’m working as a Graduate Research Assistant. I’ll be working on novel polymeric materials for biomedical applications. Apart from academics, I’m interested in cooking, listening music, gardening.


   Elaf Alattas
   M. S. STUDENT
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  • Graduate Researcher
  • PROJECT: “Enzyme-catalyzed, one-step synthesis of hyper-star polymers for biomedical applications”.
  • M. S. Degree: Chemistry at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KANSAS.
  • B. S. Degree: Chemistry at Najran University, Saudi Arabia.
  • Bio..
    Hello!! My name is Elaf Alattas. I was born in Jazan, located on the red sea, in Saudi Arabia. I am very interested in chemistry. I got B.S. Degree in chemistry from Najran University in 2010, before coming to Pittsburg State University for MS degree. Previously, I have done a research paper entitled: " The Effects of Polyester, Nylon, and Acrylic on Clothing" in 2013. Additionally, being a student in the chemistry department, now I have a wonderful opportunity to work in Dr. Santra's laboratory. Currently, I am working on "Enzyme-catalyzed, one-step synthesis of hyper-star polymers for biomedical applications". Thank You.


   Wadha Alqahtani
   M. S. STUDENT
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  • Graduate Researcher
  • PROJECT: "One-step synthesis of biodegradable polymers".
  • M. S. Degree: Chemistry at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KANSAS.
  • B. S. Degree: Chemistry at King Khalid University, Saudi Arabia.
  • Bio..
    Hello!! I'm Wadha Alqahtani from Saudi Arabia. I got my bachelor degree from King Khalid University, in general chemistry. I am exciting to learn more and in pursuing my research in polymers synthesis. This is an important field and has many implications in the medical fields including cancer treatment. My aim is to discover new biodegradable polymers to be used as drug delivery system for cancer therapy. I'm lucky to get a chance to work in Dr. Santra's lab and with his field of expertise.


Undergraduate Students


   Cassidy Barnard
   B. S. STUDENT
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  • Researcher
  • PROJECT: “Magnetic nanomedicines for MR Imaging and treatment of Cancer. Bio below”.
  • B. S. Degree: Biology major with an emphasis in pre-med, Chemistry and physical sciences at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • Bio..
    My name is Cassidy Barnard, and I am currently pursuing a bachelor degree in biology with a pre-medical emphasis and chemistry and physical science minors. I grew up in small town Kansas and ventured to Pittsburg State University to pursue my dream of becoming a physician. This dream has been reinforced by several years of shadowing and patient care along with a previous medical service trip to Belize. I am very excited to work with Dr. Santra to develop and strengthen my research and writing skills in hopes of furthering the field of medicine. Outside of the classroom and lab, I love to hike, read, and travel.


   Wesley Brantley
   B. S. STUDENT
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  • Researcher
  • PROJECT: “Biochemical applications of new polymeric materials”.
  • B. S. Degree: Biology at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • Bio..
    Greetings! My name is Wesley Brantley and I am currently earning a pre-medical biology degree with a minor in chemistry at Pitt State University. I was born in Indiana but raised in Kansas. After earning my Bachelor's degree, I plan on attending medical school and earning an M.D. degree. I have always loved the hospital and clinical setting but my passion for medicine became apparent after the death of my father due to a heart ailment. Conducting research with Dr. Santra will strengthen my laboratory skills and I plan on using these skills to one day help others and prevent the unfortunate circumstances that led to the death of my father.

   Quentin Austin
   B. S. STUDENT
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  • Researcher
  • PROJECT: “New click-ene chemistry for biochemical applications”.
  • B. S. Degree: Polymer Chemistry at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • Bio..
    Hello there, I’m Quentin Austin. I am from the small town of Cherryvale, KS where I graduated from Cherryvale High School as Class Valedictorian. Ever since I was young, I have had a deep passion for science and an endless curiosity of what surrounded me. I am currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Polymer Chemistry. I had been interested in Dr. Santra’s Polymer Chemistry Program since my high school Chemistry teacher told me about it. Several of my professors at Independence Community College really pushed me to follow my interests. This motivated me to immerse myself in my studies and take classes that challenge me. My ultimate goal is to obtain a Ph.D. in Chemistry and to be involved with research in order to make a difference in the world around me. When I’m not buried in my studies, you can often find me outdoors absorbed in nature, collecting fossils, or you might catch my band Edge Over Edge performing in the local area.

   Christina Fletcher
   B. S. STUDENT
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  • Researcher
  • PROJECT: “New MR activatable nanoprobes for multiparametric imaging and treatment of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)”.
  • B. S. Degree: Biology at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • Bio..
    Hi! My name is Christina Fletcher, I am currently working towards a bachelors in biology with a minor in Physical Science and Chemistry and hope to become a Physician’s assistant. I was born in Portsmouth, VA but have lived most of my life in Northeast Kansas. I love movies, cooking, reading, and spending time with my family and friends. My interest in the medical field began when my brother was diagnosed with autism. I was able to witness a lot of different aspects of the medical field and to an extent was able to provide at home care for him. As I began my biology classes at Pittsburg State University my interests grew in studying different diseases and the methods used to treat them so I was thrilled when Dr. Santra told me about the Nanotheranostic laboratory. This is an amazing opportunity that will help me achieve my goals and I hope to contribute to the goal of curing cancer. My current research focused on new MR activatable nanoprobes for multiparametric imaging and treatment of triple-negative breast cancer.

   Charlotte Clonts
   B. S. STUDENT
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  • Researcher
  • PROJECT: “Nanotechnology in detecting infectious diseases.”
  • B. S. Degree: Biology major with emphasis in Pre Med Studies at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • Bio..
    My name is Charlotte Clonts, I am from Tulsa, OK. Aside from my studies, I enjoy writing, journaling, reading, antiquing, and sand volleyball. I entered Pitt State in 2014 originally in pursuit of a B.S. in Biology with emphasis in Physical Therapy — since then I have been introduced to to the world of medicine and research. Thus, I am currently working towards completion of my B.S. in Biology with emphasis in Pre Med Studies, with an ultimate goal of completing Medical School and becoming a Surgeon. During the three year period I have been at Pitt State I have gotten my EMT certification, completed my minors in psychology and physical sciences, I have done research in psychology, and have done medical volunteer work across the tristate area and in Belize. I am very excited to have the opportunity to work with Dr. Santra in research and to start exhibiting my passions through these projects. I have always loved learning about infectious diseases and their host cells; now being able to do research with nanotechnology in detecting infectious diseases will only increase my love for the science and feed my newfound desire to practice innovative medicine in correlation with research.


   Ryan Higginbotham
   B. S. STUDENT
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  • Chemist
  • PROJECT: “Development of new nanotechnologies for treatment of cancers.”        
  • B. S. Degree: Chemistry at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • Bio..
    My name is Ryan Higginbotham, and I was born in West Plains, MO. I moved to Pittsburg when I was seven. I joined Pittsburg State University in the fall of 2015, aimed B.S. degree in Biology with a Pre-Med emphasis. When came to know that Dr. Santra is doing research on cancers and infectious diseases, I was on board and decided to join the lab. In my free time, I enjoy playing violin, ultimate frisbee, and hiking. I’m currently working on the delivery of sophorolipids for targeted cancer therapy using nanoplatforms.


   Sasha Pashchenko
   B. S. STUDENT
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  • Researcher
  • PROJECT: "Cytotoxicity of sophorolipids using magnetic nanotheranostics".
  • B. S. Degree:Biology major with an emphasis in pre-med, Chemistry at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • Bio..
    Hello! My name is Sasha Pashchenko, and I was born in Ukraine. When I was seven years old my family moved to Erie, KS, and I eventually decided to pursue a Pre-Medical Biology and Chemistry dual-degree at PSU. I’ve enjoyed studying at PSU a lot, and I’m super excited to continue developing nanotechnology with Dr. Santra. After my BS degree, I plan on pursuing an M.D. degree. Outside of research and studies, I also enjoy drawing, painting, reading, traveling, and the outdoors. Some of my past traveling has included medical volunteer work in Honduras and HIV volunteer work in Kenya. Both research and volunteering abroad has further pushed me to pursue a medical career.

   Alicia Lowrey
   B. S. STUDENT
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  • Researcher
  • PROJECT: “Magnetic nanomedicines for cancer treatment”.
  • B. S. Degree: Chemistry, Biology at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • Bio..
    Hi! My name is Alicia Lowrey, I am a Biology and Chemistry double major with a minor in Psychology. I was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico but soon moved to Arkansas and was raised in Bentonville, Arkansas. I enjoy playing softball at Pitt State as well as being a part of the Natural Ties group on campus that works with adults in the community who have disabilities. I became interested in the medical world when my uncle got diagnosed with brain cancer and shortly after my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer as well. I have spent a lot of time in hospitals and around doctors who helped with their diagnoses and treatment and I fell in love with helping people. Dr. Santra’s nanotheranostic lab is such a great way to further my education and be a part of my ultimate goal of helping people. I am very excited to be a part of it.

   Lok B Shrestha
   B. S. STUDENT
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  • Researcher
  • PROJECT: "Biodegradable polymers for biomedical applications".
  • B. S. Degree:Chemistry major with an emphasis in Biochemistry at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • Bio..
    Namaste! My name is Lok B Shrestha, and I am an international student from Nepal. I am a transfer student here at Pittsburg State Universiry (PSU) from Neosho County CC. Currently, I am working on my Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, with an emphasis in Biochemistry (and Mathematics minor). I have always been intrigued and fascinated by nature and interested in science, Biology and Chemistry in particular. I want to thank Dr. Santra for providing me with the opportunity to work with him and other fellow researchers/scientists. This certainly is a great learning opportunity for me and is essential for my intended career (research scientist). I enjoy watching sports, being outdoor, and (nature) photography in my spare time.

   Vedant Jain
   B. S. STUDENT
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  • Researcher
  • PROJECT: "Development of new materials for biomedical applications".
  • B. S. Degree: Biology and emphasis on molecular and cellular biology at Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, KANSAS
  • Bio..
    .Hello!! I am Vedant Jain. I am from India. I am currently pursuing my bachelor’s at PSU with majors in biology and emphasis on cellular and molecular biology. I was always interested in lab work since my schooling years and knew that research was my passion. I am grateful to Dr. Santra for letting me take part in his research projects and nurturing skills that I never thought I would gain. I wish to pursue a career in molecular genetics and someday do good for humanity.