About Us

The PhD Plus Professional Development Program is an initiative of the Duke University Pratt School of Engineering.

Our Goal

We aim to provide the best possible resources to help PhD students succeed during their graduate studies and make the right career choices after graduation.


Sara Faust

Administrative Director

Jennifer L West

Fitzpatrick Family University Professor of Engineering

Jennifer West’s research in biomaterials and tissue engineering involves the synthesis, development, and application of novel, biofunctional materials, and the use of biomaterials and engineering approaches to study biological problems. Current projects include the design of ECM-mimetic hydrogel materials, novel microfabrication strategies for biomimetic patterning, and nanoparticle theranostics.

PhD Plus Leadership

Daniel Adrianzen Alvarez

Networking Committee

Daniel Adrianzen graduated with a BS in Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering from Boston University in 2014. He is a PhD student in BME at Dr. Katz's lab, working on drug delivery for anti-HIV applications. He enjoys playing soccer, climbing, cooking and playing guitar.

Mao Mao

Workshop Committee

Mao received his M.Sc. in Chemistry from University of Illinois at Chicago and his B.S. in Applied Chemistry from Fudan University in Shanghai, China. He's currently a biomedical engineering Ph.D. candidate in Professor Fan Yuan's lab at Duke University. His research focuses on cancer therapy and intracellular transport mechanism of drugs. During his free time, he enjoys classical music, rock concerts and racket sports. 

Joana Sipe

Tech Communications

Joana Sipe graduated with her BS in Chemical Engineering in 2016 from Arizona State University. She is a PhD student in Dr. Wiesner’s lab studying microplastic generation rates and their fate in the environment and the effect of nano fillers in plastics. She enjoys playing violin, piano and painting during her free time.

Josin Tom

Workshop Committee

Josin Tom graduated from National Institue of Technology Calicut, India with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. At Duke, he is working with Dr. Andy Bragg on numerical simulations of particle laden turbulent flows and high-performance computing. Apart from research, Josin enjoys reading, playing and watching cricket, hanging out with his wife and catching up with current affairs and friends.

Ryan Tsoi

Networking Committee

Ryan graduated in 2014 from The University of California, Berkeley with a B.S. in chemical engineering. He is currently a PhD candidate in the biomedical engineering department at Duke University working in Professor Lingchong You’s lab to investigate the factors affecting horizontal gene transfer in bacteria.


Imari Walker

Workshop Committee

Imari Walker graduated in 2016 from The University of California, Berkeley with her B.A. in Marine Science. She is an environmental engineering doctoral student at Duke University in the Ferguson Lab studying the transport and leaching process of plastic additives in the environment.

Member Advisors

Sarah Choyke

Workshop Committee

Sarah graduated from Haverford College with a degree in Chemistry. She is a PhD candidate in the Nicholas School of the Environmental and her current research characterizes the transformation and fate of oil spill dispersants associated with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. When she is not in lab, she enjoys cooking, lifting weights, and listening to podcasts.

Michael Dzuricky

Networking Committee

Michael came to Duke from Cleveland, where he earned a BME degree from Case Western Reserve University and worked at Athersys Inc. He is interested in discovering new ELP applications through modulation of their morphology and biological activity.  Outside the lab Michael enjoys cooking, reading, playing the cello, taking intramurals much too seriously (especially soccer) and enjoying the NC weather/climate anyway possible.