Principal Investigator

Jeffrey R. Millman, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering

jmillman [at] wustl [dot] edu


Dr. Millman recieved his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University in 2005 and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2011. He completed his postdoctoral research fellowship at Harvard University in 2015 when he joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor.

Laboratory Manager

Sarah Gale, M.A.

Laboratory Manager

segale [at] wustl [dot] edu

Sarah was born and raised in St. Louis, MO.  She earned her B.S. in Biology from Benedictine College, Atchison, KS.  Upon graduation, Sarah returned to St. Louis and earned an M.A. in Biology from Washington University.  For 19 years, Sarah worked in the lab of Dan Ory and Jean Schaffer. Here she studied the disease mechanisms involved in cholesterol trafficking and cardiovascular disease and contributed to the publication of over 20 manuscripts.  Sarah Joined the Millman lab in 2020 as laboratory manager.  When not in lab, Sarah enjoys running, traveling, spending time with her husband and three children, and coaching soccer.


Nathaniel Hogrebe, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

nhogrebe [at] wustl [dot] edu


Nathaniel grew up in St. Louis, MO. He moved to Ohio to continue his education, earning his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Dayton with minors in Biology and Bioengineering. He then completed his PhD in Biomedical Engineering at The Ohio State University in 2016 under the guidance of Dr. Keith Gooch. His doctoral research focused on the importance of insoluble cues from the cellular microenvironment on particular cell behaviors, such as human mesenchymal stem cell differentiation. He joined the Millman Lab in the fall of 2016 with the hopes of using these skills to help improve the differentiation of stem cell-derived β-cells and assist in the tissue engineering of pancreatic islets.

Research Interests

Type 1 diabetes results from the loss of insulin-producing β-cells within the pancreas. Transplantation of mature β-cells offers a potential cure for this disease, but a reliable source of functional β-cells is vital to this approach. Nathaniel’s mentor, Dr. Jeffrey Millman, previously developed with colleagues a six stage protocol for differentiating human pluripotent stem cells into functional β-cells using a step-wise combination of soluble factors. Nathaniel’s current research focuses on further improving the maturation and function of these β-cells through a tissue engineering approach, such as incorporating cues from the native extracellular matrix that surrounds β-cells in vivo. His other research interests include encapsulation and immunoprotection strategies for transplantation of these cells.

Matthew Ishahak, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

mishahak [at] email [dot] wustl [dot] edu

Biography: Matthew was born and raised in South Florida. He competed the BS/MS program in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Miami in 2015 and then completed his PhD under the mentorship of Dr. Ashu Agarwal. His doctoral research focused on combining microfluidics and tissue engineering to develop organ-on-chip devices with the goal of developing new models of human organ function to improve methods for studying diseases. His work developing a glomerulus-on-chip was funded by a National Research Service Award Predoctoral Fellowship (F31) from the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Additionally, Matthew co-founded a Bio-Vitro, a startup aimed at commercializing the organ-on-chip technology he helped developed. In the summer of 2020, Matthew joined the Millman Lab with the goal of applying his skills toward engineering stem cell-derived ß-cells.

Research Interests

Static cell culture systems and animal models are sometimes insufficient to recreate the complex, dynamic processes of human physiology and disease progression. However, the integration of microfluidics and tissue engineering provides an avenue to develop dynamic in-vitro systems that model the function of human organs. Matthew’s current research focuses on incorporating the functional, stem cell-derived ß-cells developed by his mentor, Dr. Jeffrey Millman, into microfluidic systems to improve maturation and model the dynamic pathophysiology of diabetes. His other research interests include engineering kidney organoids, which can be combined with stem cell-derived ß-cells to potentially model diabetic kidney disease.


Leonardo Velazco-Cruz, B.S.

Doctoral Student

leonardo [at] wustl [dot] edu

Leonardo received his B.S. degree in Biology from California State University, Fresno. He joins the Millman Lab on January 2017 as a predoctoral candidate seeking to generate advancements in stem cell technology and diabetes pathogenesis. Leonardo’s leisure time include rock climbing, running, and trying new foods.

Punn Augsornworawat, M.S.

Doctoral Student

punn [at] wustl [dot] edu

Punn received his B.Eng. in Materials Engineering from McGill University. He then earned his M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University, where he studied biomaterials for immunotherapy. In 2018, he joined the Millman Lab as a doctoral student in the Biomedical Engineering PhD Program. Punn is interested in using bioinformatics to study islet development and engineer stem cells to advance treatments for diabetes. Outside, he enjoys photography, skiing, and trying new foods.

Daniel Veronese Paniagua, B.S.

Doctoral Student

dveronese-paniagua [at] wustl [dot] edu

Danny received his B.A from Cornell University in May 2017 where he studied biology with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology. He then worked as a research technician in Dr. Blair Madison’s lab where he focused on the role of microRNA’s, and their targets, on the development and tumorigenesis of colorectal cancer. Danny joined the Millman Lab in March 2020 and is a student in the Developmental, Regenerative, and Stem Cell Biology Program at WashU. He is interested in finding molecular and genetic targets to improve stem cell therapies for Type 1 Diabetes. When not in lab, Danny likes to practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Latin dance, hang out with friends, and try new food places in the St. Louis area!

Marlie Maestas, B.S.

Doctoral Student

m.maestas [at] wustl [dot] edu

Marlie received her B.S. in Biology from New Mexico State University. In 2021, she joined the millman lab as a doctoral student in developmental, regenerative, stem cell biology. Marlie is interested in leveraging stem cell technology to improve treatment for diabetes. When not in lab, Marlie enjoys traveling, reading, and hiking.

Erica Marquez, B.S.


merica [at] wustl [dot] edu

Erica is a research technician working in the Millman laboratory. She graduated with a degree in Biology from Western Illinois University, where she studied the effects of environmental changes on spatial learning in mice. She is involved in her neighbor community orchard and various other local groups. She spends most of her time gardening and caring for her pets. Erica began working in the Millman Lab in May of 2020.

Michelle Kim, B.A.


kim.michelle [at] wustl [dot] edu

Michelle is a technician working in the Millman laboratory. She recently graduated with a degree in Neuroscience at Washington University in St. Louis. She is involved in multiple organizations, including ACF (Asian Christian Fellowship). Outside of lab, she enjoys exercising, reading, and baking. She began working in the Millman Lab as an undergraduate in September 2017.

Diana Hernandez, B.S.


hdiana [at] wustl [dot] edu

Diana was born in Colima, Mexico and raised in Miami, Florida. She completed her B.S in Biology and Biochemistry at Spring Hill College in 2020 and is currently working on completing her M.S in Microbiology & Cell Science with a concentration in Medical Microbiology and Biochemistry. Outside of the lab, Diana enjoys hiking, running at Forest Park, baking, reading and spending time with friends. She joined the Millman Lab as a technician in January 2021 and is interested in going to medical school in the near future.

Cameron Banks, B.S.


cbanks22 [at] wustl [dot] edu

Cameron was born and raised in Saint Louis, MO. He received his BS in Biology from Truman State University in 2020. During his undergrad, he did research quantifying deterioration in specific muscles in Duchene Muscular Dystrophy affected tissues using a canine model. In his free time he likes to read.

Julia Miller

Undergraduate Researcher

juliam [at] wustl [dot] edu

Julia is an undergraduate student majoring in Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. She is a member of the Varsity Women’s Soccer team and is involved with the organization Engineers Without Borders (designing an irrigation system to be implemented in a community in Uganda). Outside of the lab, she enjoys reading, hiking, and playing board games. Julia joined the Millman lab in January 2020.

Recent Alumni

Kristina Maxwell, PhD.

Kristina graduated with a PhD. in Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis and is currently working at Insulet Corporation as a Scientific and Medical writer. She is interested in the development of stem cell technology to treat and model diabetes using SC-β cells. When not in the lab, Kristina enjoys participating in intramural sports with her classmates, running in Forest Park, and summer musicals at the Muny.

Former Members

Shreya Battu. Currently a Neuroscience major student at Washington University in St. Louis.

Madeleine Goedegebuure. Graduated with B.S. in 2020. Went on to a Ph.D. program at Northwestern University.

Arvind Srivatsava. Graduated with M.S. in 2019. Went on to a Ph.D. program at University of Rochester.

Anurima Sharma. Graduated with B.S. in 2018. Went on to enter a M.S. program at Cornell Tech.

Mason Simmons. Completed research period in 2018. Went on to continue B.S. program at Washington University.

Jiwon Song. Completed post-bacc research in 2017. Went on to a Ph.D. program at UT Southwestern.

Stefanie Shahan. Graduated with M.S. in 2017. Went on to work at Celgene

Emmy Mai. Completed summer NIH NIDDK fellowship in 2017. Went on to continue M.D. program at St. Louis University.

Lisa Gutgesell. Completed summer Amgen Scholarship in 2017. Went on to complete B.S. from Missouri S&T and enter Ph.D. program at University of Illinois at Chicago

Eli Silvert. Completed summer Amgen fellowship in 2018. Went on to continue B.S. program at Brown University.