Dr. Abigail Koppes, Principal Investigator

Group Members

Principal Investigator

Dr. Abigail Koppes

Dr. Abigail Koppes joined the department of Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University in 2014 where her group, the Advanced Biomaterials for Neuroengineering Laboratory (ABNEL), harnesses biochemical engineering methods to address challenges in nervous system disorders and dysfunction. She was the recipient of the NIH R21 Trailblazer in 2017, is a co-investigator on a 2019 AHA Innovative Project Award and is a co-investigator on a 2016 NIH Biomedical Research Partnership R01 between Northeastern, MIT, and Boston Children’s Hospital. She received the 2020 BMES Rita Shaffer Young Investigator and CMBE Young Innovator Award in 2020. She received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York in 2013. Her doctoral research with Dr. Deanna Thompson focused on using electrical stimulation to manipulate neural and supportive glial cell behavior for improved repair following peripheral nervous system injuries. In 2013, Dr. Koppes joined the Advanced Drug Delivery Research Laboratory with Dr. Rebecca Carrier as the Northeastern University NSF ADVANCE Future Faculty Fellow and held a joint appointment at Schepen’s Eye Research Institute and Harvard Medical School with Dr. Michael Young and as a visiting scientist in Dr. Douglas Lauffenburger’s Molecular Cell Bioengineering group at MIT. At Northeastern Dr. Koppes enjoys teaching Design 1 Lab (Unit Operations Transport I) for undergraduate engineers and Design of Experiments and Ethical Research for graduate students, where she is a member of the DEI and graduate committees, as well as has mentored over 40 undergraduates in the laboratory. She also currently serves on the BMES Diversity Committee.

When not in the lab, Dr. Koppes enjoys cooking, travel, outdoor sports, and spending time with her husband and two Siberian huskies.

CV Here

Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
Troy, NY

M.S. Biomedical Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
Troy, NY

B.S. Biomedical Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
Troy, NY

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ORCID iD icon   orcid.org/0000-0003-0433-9290


Graduate Students

Jessica Snyder

While we are well aware that the brain communicates to the gut to regulate digestion and homeostasis, the enteric nervous system (ENS) also sends signals back to the central nervous system (CNS), which impacts the brain. Jessica’s work focuses on designing biomaterials to support the gut-ENS niche and studying serotonin signaling from the epithelium to the ENS and CNS. Application of this work will aid in understanding the influence of gut serotonin production on motility and on mental health, including anxiety and depression.

Jessica began her PhD in bioengineering in ABNEL at Northeastern Fall of 2018. Prior to her time at Northeastern, she completed her bachelors and accelerated masters degrees in biomedical engineering at the University of Iowa in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Her master’s research was done in the Institute for Vision Research under the direction of Dr. Budd Tucker and Dr. Kristan Worthington, titled,“2D and 3D Control of Photopolymerized Polycaprolactone Scaffolds for Cell Replacement Therapy in Retinal Disease.”

M.S. Biomedical/Medical Engineering
University of Iowa ’18
Iowa City, IA

B.S. Biomedical/Medical Engineering
University of Iowa ’17
Iowa City, IA

Kyla Nichols

Up to 25% of the population experiences visceral pain at any one time, but the underlying mechanisms of this pain remain poorly understood. Kyla’s work aims to investigate the connection of neurotransmitter signaling, specifically gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), to visceral nociception (feeling of pain) within the gut. The project includes developing a neural microphysiological system to model the microbiota-gut-brain axis.

Kyla joined ABNEL in the Fall of 2019 as a Chemical Engineering PhD student. Prior to starting graduate school at Northeastern University, Kyla was working at GE Healthcare Life Sciences in the Upstream Product Management and Operations Department. Kyla completed her BS in Biomedical engineering and Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) the spring of 2017. During her undergraduate studies, she participated in an NSF funded Research Experience for Undergraduates at Syracuse University’s Biomaterials Institute. Her project studied astrocyte motility on tunable hydrogels which sparked her interest in neuroengineering.

B.S. Biomedical Engineering
Worcester Polytechnic Institute ’17
Worcester, MA

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Bryan Schellberg

Over the past 30 years, organ-on-a-chip devices have emerged as a robust alternative to address the technological gaps associated with current in vitro and in vivo options used to investigate biological questions. Organ-chip models integrate three-dimensional tissue architectures in vitro to recapitulate organ-specific functions, such as liver metabolism and intestinal barrier function. Although organ-chips are rapidly gaining interest, more work is needed to encourage broad adoption across research and industry. Bryan’s work focuses on the technical development of organ-chip devices for real-time monitoring and modulation of cell culture conditions with the goal of improving organ-chip functionality.

Bryan joined ABNEL in the Fall of 2021 as a Chemical Engineering PhD student. Before joining the lab, he graduated with a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Rochester in 2021. At his undergraduate institution, Bryan’s research focused on polymer science and new materials discovery. While at Rochester, Bryan participated in a summer NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates, which shifted his interest to biomedical research.

B.S. Chemical Engineering
University of Rochester ’21
Rochester, NY

Brent Buchinger

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, characterized by progressive losses in motor control and cognitive functioning. While recent work has hinted at a gut origin, research elucidating the mechanisms for this pathological pathway is lacking. Brent’s work aims to develop a novel microphysiological system mimicking the gut-brain axis with the goal of improving platforms for studying and understanding Parkinson’s disease.

Brent joined ABNEL in the summer of 2022 as a Chemical Engineering PhD student. Prior to his graduate studies at Northeastern University, Brent worked as an analytical chemist at Eurofins Food Integrity & Innovation. He obtained his BS in Chemical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in December of 2019. At his undergraduate institution, Brent’s research focused on catalysis. However, his passions switched to biomedical engineering after researching chondrogenic differentiation at Case Western Reserve University in the summer of 2018.

B.S. Chemical Engineering
University of Wisconsin–Madison ’19
Madison, WI

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Kat Nilov

Interested in the overlap of space science and the gut-brain-axis, Kat will be taking the NASA SHINE class in 2023 to learn about radiation risk and impact on human health. This interest will lead to the development of stem-cell derived humanized models and eventually the investigation of exogenous forces impact on human nerve, gut, and microbiota response. She hopes to develop a deeper understanding of health challenges exhibited by those in space and on earth.

Kat began their PhD in chemical engineering with ABNEL in 2023, co-advised with Professor Luke Landherr. Prior to Northeastern, Kat completed their bachelors in chemical engineering with a minor in chemistry. She did research in the field of complex coacervates with the Sarah Perry Lab at UMass Amherst. Kat was also involved in projects developing microfluidic chips to synthesize and purify mRNA sponsored by the Craig Martin Lab at UMass. They are committed to making science safe and accessible, implementing pedagogical values in all their work.

B.S. Chemical Engineering
University of Massachusetts Amherst ’22
Amherst, MA



Beth DiBiase, Chemical Engineering, BS 2021
Ryan Svendsen Chemical Engineering, BS 2021
Ben Carter Bioengineering, BS 2021
Joyce Song Bioengineering, BS 2021
Caroline Ghio Chemical Engineering, BS 2021
Sean Flannery, Chemical Engineering, BS 2022
Bridget Eckel, Bioengineering, BS 2022
Rithika Raj Kumar Pradeep, Bioengineering, BS 2023


Alumni – Post-Docs

Chris Bertucci: 2019 Regeneron Pharmaceuticals


Alumni – Graduate Students

Adam Bindas, Chemical Engineering, PhD 2022

Currently at: Xellar Biosystems (Scientist)

Project: Microphysiological Systems to Investigate Parkinson’s Disease and Elucidate Gut-Brain Axis Biology

Erika WheelerBioengineering, MS 2022

Currently at: University of California, Davis (PhD Student)

Project: Characterization of sex-based differences in irritable bowel syndrome and irritable bowel disease

Kirstie Belanger, Chemical Engineering, MS 2021

Currently at: Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (Scientist)

Project: Modeling cardiac innervation on chip

David Diaz Vera, Chemical Engineering, PhD 2020

Currently at: Sanofi (Scientist)

Project: A study of primary sensory neurons and Schwann cells sensitivity to visible light irradiation in vitro, and feasibility of a light inducible system in Schwann cells for neurite outgrowth enhancement in vitro

Tess Torregrosa, Chemical Engineering, PhD 2020

Currently at: Sanofi (Scientist, Gene Therapy)

Project: Mechanisms to Investigate the Nervous System: Genetic Engineering with Adeno-Associated Viruses

Caroline Mills, Chemical Engineering, MS 2020

Currently at: Ocular Therapeutix, Inc. (R&D Engineer II)

Project: Using magnetic and topographical cues to influence the growth of neuron extensions

Sanjin Hosic: Chemical Engineering, PhD 2019

Currently at: Bluebird Bio (Scientist)

Project: Harnessing Patient-Derived Organoids and Microfluidics to Investigate Cholinergic Regulation of the Epithelial Barrier

Marissa Puzan: Chemical Engineering, PhD 2019

Currently at: Pfizer (Senior Scientist)

Project: Development of an Innervated, Tissue Engineered Model of the GI Tract

Dan Ventre: Bioengineering, PhD 2019

Currently at: Seven Bridges Genomics (Technical Writer)

Project: Investigating the Mechanisms of Ultrasonic and Electrical Neuromodulation

Megha Kamath, Pharmaceutical Sciences, MS 2015

Currently at: National Institute of Health (Biology Research Assistant)

Project: Small intestinal models for drug delivery and tissue engineering

Joshua Scaralia, Chemical Engineering, MS 2016

Currently at: Azzur Group (Technical Services Engineer)

Project: Decellularized retina ECM hydrogels for increased cellular migration and integration


Alumni – Undergraduate Students

Minhal Ahmed: Chemical Engineering, BS 2019

Now: Mitchell Fellow @ University of Cork (Cryan Lab)

Rachel ShapiroChemical Engineering, BS 2017

Now: PhD Student @ Johns Hopkins University

Emily Ashbolt, Medical Physics, BS 2017

Mina Iskarous, Chemical Engineering, BS 2018

Alon Duval, Chemical Engineering, BS 2019

Audrey Lee, Chemical Engineering, BS 2020

Yang Lin, Chemical Engineering, BS 2018

Mary Lou Nadeau, Chemical Engineering, BS 2021

David Urick, Chemical Engineering, BS 2018

Meron Wonderad, Chemical Engineering, BS 2020

William Cisneros: Chemical Engineering, BS 2018

Nicholas Phelan, Chemical Engineering, BS 2019

Brooke Wojeski Chemical Engineering, BS 2019

Will Lake Chemical Engineering, BS 2020

Avery Cluff Bioengineering, BS 2020

Jack Gelinas Chemical Engineering, BS 2022

Taylor Lynch Bioengineering, BS 2021

Nicole Marco Chemical Engineering, BS 2021


Katelyn Neuman’s Article Accepted for Publication

Katelyn Neuman’s Article Accepted for Publication

Katelyn Neuman, current graduate student of Dr. Ryan Koppes, had her article titled "En route to next-generation nerve repair: static passive magnetostimulation modulates neurite outgrowth" accepted for publication in the Journal of Neural Engineering. Her article...

Dr. Adam Bindas’ Paper is Published

Dr. Adam Bindas’ Paper is Published

Previous graduate student, Dr. Adam Bindas, successfully published his article "Aggregation of alpha-synuclein in enteric neurons does not impact function in vitro" in Scientific Reports. Co-authored by current graduate student, Kyla Nichols, the article investigates...