Principal Investigator

Heather B. Mayes

Heather studied humanities at Harvard University before realizing that she is a chemical engineer. She received her BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She then worked for three years as a chemical engineering consultant on projects including new technology development, process safety, and meeting new EPA standards. To deepen her knowledge, she returned to school and received her PhD in chemical engineering from Northwestern University in the summer of 2015. Dr. Linda J. Broadbelt at Northwestern advised her and Dr. Gregg T. Beckham of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory co-advised her as she employed computational chemical engineering to uncover the molecular mechanisms that underlie thermal and enzymatic cellulose decomposition toward advancing technologies that will produce sustainable chemicals and fuels. She was a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellow and earned the AIChE Computational Molecular Science and Engineering Forum Graduate Student Award and ACS Chemical Computing Group Research Excellence Award. She deferred begining her position at the University of Michigan to be a postdoctoral scholar in the Voth Group at the University of Chicago, where she modeled proton transport in transmembrane proteins. At the University of Michigan, she works to elucidate protein-sugar interactions for applications in renewable energy and glycobiology.

Graduate Students

Stephen Vicchio

Stephen earned his BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) in Spring 2015, and joined the PhD program in Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan in Fall 2015. His undergraduate research experiences include: improving anode materials for Lithium-Ion batteries (during a FREEDM Systems Center REU at NC State University); performing longevity studies for Zinc-Calcium-Magnesium bulk metallic glasses degradable implants (part of a Leadership Alliance SURF at Yale University); and simulating Janus particles patterned with varying hydrophobicity at a water vapor-liquid interface (part of a LSAMP REU at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute). As a member of Team Mayes and Blue, Stephen’s research focuses on creating a glycan designer library elucidating trends on how specific glycosylation motifs impact protein function. The new, fundamental knowledge developed by Stephen’s work will better enable researchers to use glycosylation as a tool to customize protein function.

Alexander Adams

Alex earned his BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Florida. He worked at Harris Corporation on signal filtering through photonic communication links and at Honeywell on process automation for nylon. He also participated in the Scientific Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program at Oak Ridge National Lab where he worked on high performance Li-ion battery anodes produced from recycled rubber tire waste. Alex is co-advised by Dr. Sharon Glotzer.

Tucker Burgin

Tucker earned his BS and MS in Biomedical Engineering (with a concentration in Chemical Engineering) through a combined degree program at the University of Rochester. He conducted research with the Nanomembranes Research Group and the McGrath Lab, and his MS thesis work centered on building models to support the application of ultra-thin silicon membranes to highly efficient, wearable hemodialysis devices.

Emma Purcell

Emma earned her BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of California San Diego.
She completed an REU through the Colorado Centre for Biofuels and Biorefining in Matthew Posewitz’s lab at the Colorado School of Mines. While in the Posewitz lab, she worked on the metabolic engineering of cyanobacteria for biofuels applications.
After finishing her BS, she traveled to New Zealand and worked at the University of Canterbury in Renwick Dobson’s lab on the development and design of microfluidic chips for artificial lipid bilayer formation. Emma is co-advised by Dr. Sunitha Nagrath.

Youngwoo Woo

Youngwoo earned his BS in Materials Science and Engineering from Seoul National University before joining the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan. He joined the Mayes group to pursue his interest in in data science within chemical engineering, and is exploring how glycosylation affects protein physical properties.

Undergraduate Students

Samantha Schwartz

Samantha is a rising undergraduate Senior at the University of Michigan, majoring in Chemical Engineering and minoring in Computer science. She is originally from Fairfield, Connecticut and is currently performing QM simulations of monosaccharide reactions, determining how to best model the conformational changes during the reactions.


Justin Huber

Justin Huber is a rising senior at the University of Michigan. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering and a minor in Computer Science. In 2016, he participated in an undergraduate research program in Aachen, Germany exploring various optimization methods in modelling an extraction column for pre-screening solvents for use in biofuels. Currently, Justin is working to model conformational pathways in ring-opening reactions of sugars important for health and renewable energy.

Carly Prast

Carly Prast is a senior at the University of Michigan studying Chemical Engineering. She is originally from Rochester, Michigan. Currently, Carly is using COMSOL Multiphysics to simulate microfluidic focusing of exosomes for cancer diagnostics.



Previous Undergraduate Students

Rohith Pentaparthy

Rohith worked in our group in the summer of 2017, when he was a rising Senior undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, majoring in Data Science and minoring in Biochemistry. He is originally from Okemos, Michigan and worked on modeling modifications of sugar transport proteins in an effort to improve conversion efficiency.