Our Team


Rae Robertson-Anderson

Rae M Robertson-Anderson received her BS in Physics from Georgetown University in 2003, where she was awarded a Luce Foundation Clare Boothe Luce Scholarship and elected into Phi Beta Kappa. She received her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California, San Diego in 2007, funded by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Anderson was then awarded an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein postdoctoral fellowship for her molecular biology postdoctoral research at The Scripps Research Institute before joining the faculty at USD in 2009.

Robertson-Anderson has received over $4M in grants since 2010 to support her research, including prestigious awards such as a W.M. Keck Foundation Research Grant (2018), an NSF CAREER Award (2013), an Air Force Young Investigator Program Award (2012), and Research Corporation Cottrell Scholars Award (2010). She has published 53 peer-reviewed papers in top-ranking journals including PRL, Science Advances, Nature Communications, and PNAS. Robertson-Anderson has given 34 invited talks at institutions and conferences around the world, has organized and hosted 4 soft matter research symposiums, and currently serves on advisory boards for Research Corporation, the Beckman Foundation, and the Murdock Charitable Trust.

Robertson-Anderson is equally passionate about promoting and advancing undergraduate research and education. Serving as Councilor for the National Council on Undergraduate Research since 2015, Robertson-Anderson joined USD with the express intention of engaging undergraduates in cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and shaping the undergraduate physics curriculum at a national level. 31 of Robertson-Anderson’s 53 publications include undergraduate co-authors, and the 62 research students (44 undergraduates, 4 community college students, 15 high school students, 3 MS, 1 Ph.D.) and 7 postdocs she has mentored since 2010 have given 52 presentations at national conferences. Her research students have also received prestigious awards including Goldwater Scholarships, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, and an APS LeRoy Apker Award. To further train the next generation of interdisciplinary scientists, Robertson-Anderson has established a research-intensive undergraduate Biophysics Major program at USD that has served as a model for liberal arts institutions across the country.

Dr. Anderson's CV may be accessed here


Mehrzad Sasanpour

Mehrzad obtained her Ph.D. in physics from the Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran. Her primary research in her Ph.D. was on the dielectrophoresis (DEP) force measurement on the red blood cell (RBCs) using optical tweezers (OT). She is currently investigating the mechanics and dynamics of biopolymer composites using optical tweezers, confocal microscopy, and differential dynamic microscopy. She loves her family. She loves listening to podcasts and spending time with kids.

Mehdi Shafiei Aporvari

Mehdi obtained his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Isfahan, Iran. His doctoral research focused on theoretical and computational analysis of plasmonic optical traps. He was a postdoctoral researcher in Soft Mater Lab at Bilkent University, Turkey, where he worked experimentally on self-assembled micro-chains in active baths. He currently investigates biomimetic cytoskeleton using advanced microscopy techniques to reveal intracellular DNA dynamics and distributions.

Karthik Reddy Peddireddy

Karthik obtained his Ph.D. from Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Göttingen, Germany. He investigated interfacial instabilities in liquid crystal-water systems during his Ph.D. As a postdoctoral researcher in our group, his work focuses on mapping molecular-level dynamics to mesoscale mechanics in composite DNA-based biomaterials. His favorite person on the planet is his niece. He loves volleyball, cycling, experiencing new cultures and traditions. More details about his research background are available here.
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Maya Hendija

Maya is a third-year physics major. She will be assisting in the lab this year with various projects and will move on to starting research. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors and active. She enjoys skiing, hiking, windsurfing, traveling, and working out.

Christopher Currie

Christopher is pursuing a dual degree: Mathematics, BA, and Physics BS with minors in Chemistry and Biology. This year Chris will be working on tuning dynamic contractions of actin-microtubule networks with kinesin. In his free time, Chris enjoys playing spikeball, surfing, and board games.

Juexin Marfai

Juexin is a third-year biophysics major and mathematics minor and she is also a veteran with 7 years of military experience in the U.S. Navy. This summer she will be working on encapsulations by creating cell-like vesicles that encapsulate DNA and crowding proteins to mimic cells and to understand how molecules to transport and organize under cell confinement and crowding. Outside of the lab, she enjoys hiking, working out, and spending time with her dogs.

Alyxandra Vyn

Alyxandra is a Physics major with a minor in Mathematics. She will complete her B.S at the University of San Diego. This year she will be working in the Robertson-Anderson lab focusing on the circadian clock of active cytoskeleton networks. In her free time, Alyxandra loves to read and watch documentaries but can also be frequently found at the beach.

Kara Coursey

Kara is a Physics and Mathematics double major. This summer she is conducting research on macro-and micro- rheological properties of entangled DNA solutions in the Robertson- Anderson lab. When not at the lab Kara enjoys shopping, music, and spending time with her niece.

Natalie Crist

Natalie Crist is a fourth-year biophysics major minoring in chemistry and Spanish. Her research focuses on using a variety of enzymes to alter the topology of DNA molecules. She also uses particle-tracking microrheology to measure how the viscoelastic properties of the materials change over time during the enzymatic activity. During her free time, Natalie enjoys going to the beach, hiking, and skiing.

Gregor Leech

Gregor Leech is a third-year biophysics major and psychology minor. He has been conducting research on self-driven protein networks in the Robertson-Anderson lab since the spring of 2020. This summer he will be studying Kai proteins in cytoskeletal composites as part of a project to design autonomously oscillating bio-materials. Outside of the lab, Gregor enjoys surfing, sailing, and music.

Philip Neill

Philip is a third-year biophysics major minoring in math and PPE (philosophy, politics, economics). His research focuses on tuning the rheological properties of DNA-enzyme solutions. Enzymes can be used to alter the topologies of DNA molecules, giving rise to changes in the viscosity of highly entangled DNA networks. Outside of the lab, Philip enjoys surfing, snowboarding and is a member of the waterski club at USD.


Ryan McGorty

University of San Diego

Assistant Professor

Janet Sheung

Claremont McKenna College

Assistant Professor

Gregory Holland

San Diego State University

Associate Professor

Megan Valentine

University of California Santa Barbara


Gregory B. McKenna

Texas Tech University

Professor and Chair

Dimitri Deheyn

Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Associate Professor

Michael Rust

University of Chicago

Associate Professor

Jennifer Ross

Syracuse University

Professor and Department Chair Physics

Moumita Das

Rochester Institute of Technology

Associate Professor

Charles Schroeder

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Davide Michieletto

University of Edinburgh

Research Fellow

Past Members

Gloria Lee


Physics Faculty

Pawan Khanal

UC Berkeley

Doctoral Candidate

Jonathan Garamella


Research Scientist

Megan Lee

UC San Diego Health

Staff Research Associate

Manas Khan

IIT Kanpur

Assistant Professor

Bekele Gurmessa

Buknell University

Assistant Professor of Physics & Astronomy

Kathryn Regan

Boston University

Doctoral Candidate

Shea Ricketts

UNC at Chapel Hill School of Medicine

Doctoral Candidate

Madison Francis


Lab Technician

Sylas Anderson

National Jewish Health

Clinical Laboratory Scientist