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. Many of our workshops teach personalized tools based on your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. If you don't know your MBTI, click here.


Sara Faust

Administrative Director

Jennifer L West

Fitzpatrick Family University Distinguished Professor of Engineering

Biomaterials, nanotechnology and tissue engineering that involves the synthesis, development, and application of novel biofunctional materials, and the use of biomaterials and engineering approaches to study biological problems.

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 B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering from Boston University in 2014. He is a Ph.D. 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.

Rachel Katz

Webmaster, Communications Committee

Rachel graduated with her B.S. in Biological Engineering and a minor in Philosophy from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2017. She is a BME Ph.D. student in Dr. Jennifer West’s lab studying biomaterials for vascularized tumor/macrophage models. When she’s not arms-deep in a tissue culture hood, she enjoys hip-hop dance, live music, hiking, and baking.

Anna Lewis

Communications Committee

Anna graduated from The College of William and Mary, in 2015, with a B.S. in biology and a marine science minor from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. She is an environmental engineering Ph.D. student, in Dr. Lee Ferguson's lab, investigating the fate of microplastic fibers and the leaching of associated chemical additives and dyes. She enjoys time with friends and family, the beach, and teaching fitness classes at Duke.


Yining Liu

Networking Committee

Yining received her M.Sc. in Bioengineering from UCLA and her B.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Peking University in China. She is currently a Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. student in Prof. Tatiana Segura's lab at Duke University. Her research focuses on applying synthetic biomaterials for chronic wound healing. Aside from lab work, she loves cooking, writing and sports.

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. 

M. Reza Momenifar

Networking Committee

M. Reza Momenifar received his M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering, with specialization in fluid mechanics and heat transfer, from University of Tehran, Iran.  He is a Ph.D. student in CEE working with Dr. Andrew Bragg on fluid turbulence and its effect upon particle transport, dispersion, mixing and collision in physical and biological systems. He enjoys reading about humanities, cooking and playing table tennis, basketball, and volleyball.

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 Ph.D. 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.


Jake Ulrich

Communications Committee

Jake graduated with a B.S. in ACS Environmental Chemistry and a minor in Environmental Science and Policy from Union College in 2017. He is a CEE Ph.D student in Dr. Lee Ferguson’s lab where he studies the water quality health in the developing world and assesses developing world drinking water treatment technologies as they pertain to organic contaminants. Outside of the lab, he enjoys running, working out, reading and following various sports teams (especially the Duke Blue Devils!).

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.