Santra Research Group

Research Group

Swadeshmukul Santra, Ph. D

Research: My research group is focused on the development of novel material composition and related industrially-viable technologies for biomedical and agricultural applications. Specific research interests include bioimaging and sensing, cancer imaging and therapy, stem cell tracking, drug delivery, and study of antimicrobial compounds.

About myself: I am born and brought up in West Bengal, India. I completed my PhD in chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur and soon after I joined the University of Florida to conduct postdoctoral research. Prior to joining the UCF in Fall 2005, I was employed at the UF Department of Neurological Surgery and Particle Engineering Research Center. I enjoy cooking signature Bengali dishes for my family and friends and also love traveling.

Ph.D. Students

Jorge Pereira

Research: My research focuses on multi-nutrient nanoformulations for agriculture. By combining different nutrients at the right ratios, we can surpass the benefits of their individual application. Additionally, I also research on novel nano-delivery systems for biomedical applications.

About myself: Born and raised in Honduras. In my free time, I like to practice and learn about metagaming. I also enjoy coffee, pizza, and discussing ideas.

Edwin Davidson

Research: My research is focused on the development of novel nanotherapeutics for wound healing, and nano-fertilizer for efficient nutrient uptake and growth.

About myself: I was born and raised in Panama City, Panama. I completed my B.S. in Industrial Chemistry (2015) from University of Panama and M.Ed. in Higher Education (2018) from Technological University of Panama. I completed my MS in Nanotechnology in 2020 at UCF prior to joining the Chemistry PhD program. Some of my hobbies include hiking, watching movies, traveling, and playing board games

Allison Lloyd

Research: My current research focuses on nano-agriculture and the incorporation of nanotechnology in the agricultural industry as a potential solution to the numerous problems that plague the industry. I characterize various novel Nano-zinc based products to determine their viability as an alternative to current commercial standards. These products are multi-purpose, serving as bactericides and/or fertilizers.

About myself: I’m a first-generation Hungarian-American who was born and raised in Orlando, Florida. In my free time I enjoy growing succulents, visiting theme parks, and going to the beach. 

Masters Students

Sebastian Leon

Research:  Investigating micro and nanoscale systems for the delivery of cytoprotective compounds into various tissue types. 

About myself: I was born in Bogota, Colombia but grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida. I love fitness, science, medicine, and education. 

Ashton Holderness

Research: Evaluating the efficacy of utilizing magnesium hydroxide-coated particles as a magnesium supplement for migraines.

About myself: I grew up in New Jersey for most of my adolescent life and moved to Florida in 2016, where I began my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Florida. One of my favorite hobbies to do in my free time is working on computers.

Research Assistants

Giuliana Gan Giannelli

Research: Development and optimization of curcumin-loaded polymeric nanoparticles as bioactive agents for enhanced peripheral nerve regeneration. The nanoparticles would overcome the drawbacks of curcumin (hydrophobicity and high physicochemical instability), thereby increasing its half-life, availability in cells, and overall therapeutic potential.

About myself: I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and moved to the United States in 2015 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Upon graduating, I worked at the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Mayo Clinic, Rochester MN. I then moved to Florida and began my master’s degree in biotechnology at the University of Central Florida. Apart from my educational and professional pursuits, I enjoy exploring state parks, lakes, and natural springs.

Moshira Ibrahim, Ph. D.

Research: My current research focuses on the collection of soil, plant leaves, and tissue to evaluate the effects of nano-formulation and adjuvant combination for crop protection and nutrient supplementation.

About myself: I am originally from Egypt and worked as a researcher at the Egyptian Petroleum Research Institute. My favorite hobby is traveling because I love discovering new cities and new places around the world. I love spending time in nature and enjoy those wonderful moments with my family.

Undergraduate Students

Nicole Clark

Research: I am currently working on a group project with Ayushi Jain and Giuli Gianelli. We are studying the inhibition of algae growth on outdoor concrete using strontium nitrate and zinc oxide nanoparticles and seeing how this compares to existing algaecidal measures.

About myself: I am currently working on a group project with Ayushi Jain and Giuli Gianelli. We are studying the inhibition of algae growth on outdoor concrete using strontium nitrate and zinc oxide nanoparticles and seeing how this compares to existing algaecidal measures.

Anastasiia Pestereva

Research: Our goal is to coat rock phosphate fertilizer in chitosan to increase plant uptake. We are testing different concentrations of chitosan and seeing if we can make nanosized fertilizer.

About myself: I grew up in Perm, Russia until we moved to Bradenton, Fl in 2013. I enjoy CrossFit and weightlifting and one of my favorite hobbies is drawing.

Felicity Rizzi

Research: Currently working on a project to develop a cheaper and more sustainable fertilizer utilizing phosphorus.

About myself: I’m from West Palm Beach, Florida, and I’m the youngest of five kids. Growing up I’ve always loved reading and spending a day at the beach. I spend my free time generally at home either curled up and bingeing my favorite shows, or painting with my friends.

High School Students

Meghana Konda

Research: Study of magnesium-based migraine therapeutics.

About myself: I was born in New York, but grew up in Orlando, FL. My hobbies include watching movies, horse-riding, and archery.


Previous Postdoctoral Researchers:
  • Subir Kumar Sabui (Research Scientist (team leader) at Sapala Organics Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad, India)
  • Shelly John Mechery (Scientist, Raytheon Intelligence and Space, CA, USA)
  • Soumitra Kar (Assistant Professor of Physics, School of Applied Science, Haldia Institute of Technology, Haldia, (W.B), India).
  • Subhash Banerjee (Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Guru Ghasidas University, Bilaspur (C.G.), India)
  • Padmavathy Tallury (Research Professional, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
  • Subhajit Biswas (Senior Postdoctoral Fellow, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland)
  • Rajendra Narayan Mitra (Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Opthalmology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC)
  • Smruti Das
  • Parthiban Rajasekaran (Sanofi, Boston, USA)
  • Rajneesh Prajapati
  • Maria Campos (Professor, Eastern Florida State College, Florida, USA)
  • Hajeewaka Mendis (Assistant Professor, Truman State University, Missouri, USA)
Students graduated with thesis:
  • Stephen Smith (PhD in Chemistry; Accepted a faculty position (teaching-track) at the Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL)
  • Mikaeel Young (PhD in Molecular Biology and Microbiology; Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry)
  • Ali Ozcan (PhD in Chemistry; Vice Director of Scientific and Technological Studies Application and Research Center, Vocational School of Technical Sciences, Karamanoglu Mehmetbey University, Karaman, Turkey)
  • Tyler Maxwell (PhD in Chemistry; Accepted a position at the DoD lab in Panama City, FL)
  • Ziyang Huang (PhD in Chemistry; Senior Research Scientist at Wynca Group, China)
  • Ryan Heetai (MS Nanotechnology; leading Biotech company, North Carolina)
  • Samjhana Bhandari (MS Biotechnology, Research assistance at the School Medicine in Wayne State University)
  • Danya Belnour (MS Biotechnology)
  • Srijita Basumallick (PhD in Chemistry; Assistant Professor, Asutosh College, Kolkata, India)
  • Jennifer Archer (PhD in Molecular Biology and Microbiology)
  • Astha Malhotra (PhD in Chemistry; Co-advisor)
  • Chetak Patel (MS in Chemistry; scientist, Johnson and Johnson)
  • Pavithra Maniprasad (MS in Biotechnology; employed at eClinicalWorks as healthcare business intelligence)
  • Roseline Menezes (MS in Biotechnology; joined PhD program at New Jersey Institute of Technology)
  • Mikaeel Young (PhD in BSBS; Postdoc at Baylor University, Texas, USA)
  • Jeremy Tharkur (MS in Molecular Biology and Microbiology; St. Georges University Medical School, Grenada)
  • Andrew Teblum (MS in Interdisciplinary Research; Teacher, Coral Spring High School, Coral Springs, FL)
  • Joshua Bazata (MS in Biotechnology; LECOM medical School, Bradenton, Sarasota, FL)
  • Megan Berroth (MS in Biotechnology, Biologics Development Services, Tampa, FL)
  • Keith Payton (MS in Dentistry; Co-Advisor (external); Department of Orthodontics, Case Western Reserve University)
  • Stephanie Carbone Bolyard (MS in Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering; Co-Advisor)
Student Graduated non-thesis MS/Volunteer:
  • Jorge Martinez (MS, PSM Nanoscience and Nanotechnology)
  • Harikishan Kannan (MS, Department of Materials Science and Engineering)
  • Kamry Samuel (MS Nanotechnology)
  • Nirav Modha (MS Nanotechnology)
  • Andris Pitysingh (MS Department of Chemistry)
  • Ernesto Navarro (MS Nanotechnology)
  • Anastasiia Gryshyna (MS Nanotechnology)
  • Nirav Modha (MS Nanotechnology)
  • Ernesto Navarro (MS Nanotechnology)
  • Henry Monprevil (MS Nanotechnology)
  • Nicole Hancock (MS Nanotechnology)
  • Samantha Abbott (MS Nanotechnology)
  • Allison Llyod (MS Nanotechnology)

UCF Undergraduate students mentored: Chu Kyaw, Arya Patel, Alex King, Zachary Fosler, Ashton Lee, Kelly Kenniff, Alise Oti Ramirez, Alejandra Ricaurte Diaz, Andrew Teblum, Christine Malgoza, Carlos Solano, Jennelle Suarez, Jessica Tyus, Karishma Cantarero, Antonia Bass, Keith Payton, Logan Byrne, Jay Patel, Richard Alvarez, Sabrina Ghim, Sara Rifai, Tamre Parsons, Nick Fusco, Priya Patel, Sheevani Bhalsod, Preeti Kumrah (BS in BSBS), Simone Laing (Chemistry); John Bittman (Nano PSM/MS student; Presidential Management Fellow, NIH/NCI), Michael Mitchell (UG, Chemistry), Zon Thwin (UG, Interdisciplinary Studies), Ava Milani (UG, Psychology), Priscila Louis (UG, Chemistry-Forensic), Ketsira Pierre (Chemistry)

REU students mentored: Marco Rojas-Cessa - Columbia University, Aleksay Strekalov - Alfred University, Megan Gothard - Kenyon College, and Amanda Gomez - Harvard University.

Students admitted to medical/dental school: Ernesto Navarro (St. George’s University, Grenada, West Indies), Ashton Lee (University of Central Florida, medical), Keith Payton (Case Western Reserve University, dental), Sabrina Ghim (University of Central Florida, medical), Sara Rifai (University of Florida; dental), Simone Liang (Meharry Medical College); Karishma Cantarero (PA, Orlando Health), Michael Mitchell (Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine), Jeremy Tharkur (St. George’s University, Grenada, West Indies)

High School students mentored:
  • Gabrielle Rickstrew (Lake Brantley High School; currently at Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Niharika Maity (Hagerty High School; Currently at University of Florida)
  • Rikhav Shah (Lake Highland Preparatory School; Currently at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Mentor of ASPIRE Research Program)
  • Kendyl Drayer (Lake Brantley High School)
  • Kripa Ahuja (Trinity Preparatory School; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, pre-med student)
  • Jonathan Sepulveda (Hagerty High School, Oviedo, FL)
  • Sarina Khemchandani (Windermere Preparatory School, Orlando; joined Brown University, PLME BS/MD program)
  • Sanjana Konda (Lake Highland Preparatory School, Orlando; accepted in Brown University, PLME BS/MD program)
  • Abhiram Kunamneni (Volunteered through Fall 2021- online; admitted to University of Michigan)
Other student research assistants mentored: Javier Rivera-Huertas (UCF BSBS – Lab Technician), Olajompo Moloye (Johnson and Johnson; Ney Jersey), Supriyo Ray (Graduated with PhD from UCF), Preethi Mylavarapu, Cynthia Klein, Cynthia Yates, Anindarupa Chunder (GLOBALFOUNDRIES, San Francisco, CA), Jayanta Das (Graduated with PhD from University of Texas, Arlington), and Henry Monprevil (NSTC).

Swadeshmukul Santra, Ph.D., University of Central Florida  •  Email:  •  Phone: 407-697-2848  •  Fax: 407-882-2819