Jon Pokorski, PhD

Associate Professor

Professor Pokorski began his scientific career by earning his B.S. in Biochemistry from UCLA in 2002. While at UCLA, he worked in private industry designing and testing biomedical devices that are currently in use around the world. In 2007, Dr. Pokorski received his doctoral degree in organic chemistry from Northwestern University, where he designed, synthesized, and tested diverse peptidomimetic systems for use in medical diagnostics and therapeutics. Dr. Pokorski then moved to The Scripps Research Institute, where he used both chemical and genetic engineering of viral nanoparticles to synthesize novel drug delivery systems.  During postdoctoral training, Dr. Pokorski first earned an NIH Ruth Kirschstein fellowship and later secured an NIH Pathway to Independence Award.

Dr. Pokorski joined the faculty at Case Western Reserve university in the department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering in 2012 and moved to the Nanoengineering department at UCSD in 2018. Pokorski’s laboratory works to bridge chemical synthesis, molecular biology, and materials science to make new materials for biomedical applications. The Pokorski lab is particularly interested in marrying protein and polymer science to generate new materials for drug delivery, imaging, and vaccination. Research in the Pokorski lab is funded through grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the American Chemical Society. 

Derek Church

Postdoctoral Fellow

Derek earned his B.S. in chemistry at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2010. He then moved north to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and received his doctoral degree in 2017 from the University of Washington, working on the development of novel thermo- and mechanosensitive functional materials in the lab of Professor AJ Boydston. Derek joined the Pokorski lab in March of 2018 and is currently working on the development of therapeutic protein-polymer conjugates as well as fabricating and testing slow-release composite materials for cancer immunotherapy. In his spare time, he enjoys soccer, hiking, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen.

Sayoni Ray

Postdoctoral Fellow

Sayoni is a joint postdoc with Prof. Pokorski and Prof. Steinmetz beginning in May 2019. Her current research focus is to develop slow release vaccination techniques against infectious disease and cancer using viral nanoparticles. Previously, she obtained Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Calcutta, India and Master’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, India. She has earned her PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA!), where her dissertation project includes; early tumor detection with high contrast MRI and controlled drug delivery with online monitoring using liposomal nanoparticles. Other than research work, she spends time by reading , listening to music, watching movies and travelling.

Justin Hochberg

Graduate Student

Justin joined the lab in August of 2017 as a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in biochemistry while working in the lab of Dr. Kenneth Wagener. Justin’s graduate work involves both synthetic tissue engineering and polymer encapsulation strategies for regenerative medicine. In his spare time Justin enjoys various types of music, craft beer, and whiskey.    

Trinity Zheng

Graduate Student

Trinity joined the Pokorski lab in Fall 2015 to complete her MS degree working with viruses as fillers to strengthen nanocomposite hydrogels. Trinity began her PhD studies in Fall 2017, developing slow releasing devices for in situ cancer vaccination. Trinity received her bachelor degree from Beijing University of Chemical Technology and master's degree from Case Western Reserve University. Moving from Southern China to Northern China then North America, she is the one who truly loves change and adventures.

Kris Van De Voorde

Graduate Student

A Louisiana native, Kris came to the Pokorski group in July of 2016 with a B.S. in Polymer Science from the University of Southern Mississippi. In his research, Kris utilizes multilayer coextrusion as a high-throughput method for producing biocompatible microfibers for use in tissue scaffolds. In his spare time, Kris enjoys wearing boots, hiking, Taylor Swift, and cheesy slasher flicks.

David Wirth

Graduate Student

David joined the Pokorski lab in 2018, a San Diego native with an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering, he began his career in Dr. Laurent Pilon's lab at UCLA where he developed novel re-startable solid rocket motors.  Following graduation he served 4 years in the Air Force as an engineering officer, and founded a company, Fabric8Labs based on his novel approach to electrochemical metal 3D printing.   He is currently working to develop novel techniques for bottom up manufacturing, 3D printing and nanobiotechnology.  

Elizabathe Davis

Graduate Student

Elizabathe graduated with her BS-MS dual degree from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata, India in 2018 and joined the Pokorski lab in 2019. Elizabathe is currently working on the next-generation of protein/polymer conjugates. In her free time she loves cooking new recipes, enjoying music and exploring new places. She is currently trying to explore more about yoga and meditation

Jebin Moses

Graduate Student

Jebin joined the Pokorski Lab in Fall 2019 with a B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from Anna University (AC Tech Campus), India. He will be working on polymers for drug delivery with a special focus in the field of oncology. He is a die hard soccer fan of Chelsea and the sport as a whole. In his downtime, he enjoys binge watching a good TV show or making spontaneous plans.

Armando Puente

Graduate Student

Armando is a M.S. student in Bioengineering who joined the Pokorski lab in January 2020. He is working jointly with the Steinmetz lab to develop vaccines for HPV.  He earned his B.S. in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology at UCLA in 2017. Following his studies, he worked in Dr. Robert Modlin's lab at UCLA, studying the effects of Cutibacterium acnes bacteriophages on cutaneous immune responses. Outside of lab, he likes to go to concerts and consume copious amounts of boba.

Lauren Takiguchi

Undergraduate Student

Lauren joined the Pokorski lab in Fall 2018 and is currently a first year NanoEngineering major in Revelle College at the University of California San Diego. Right now, she is working with Dr. Church to optimize ROMP polymerization to develop protein-polymer conjugates for improved drug delivery. In her free time, she enjoys hunting for new boba places, playing soccer, going to the beach, and rocking out to Blink-182. 

Pooja Shah

Undergraduate Student

I joined Pokorski Lab in Spring'19 as a second year Chemical Engineering major in Muir College at UCSD. I am working with Justin to create antibacterial polymers that can be used in a regenerative medicine. In my free time, I like to go to the beach, read or catch-up on favorite TV shows and cook.

Claire Ricketts

Undergraduate Student

Claire joined the lab in Fall 2019 and is currently a fourth year NanoEngineering undergraduate student at the University of California San Diego. She spent her first two years of undergraduate study at De Anza college in the San Fransisco Bay Area before transferring down to Southern California. As of late, she is working with Derek Church developing polymers to aid cell cryopreservation. In her free time she enjoys salsa dancing, climbing, hiking, and attending jazz and classical music performances.


Graduate and Postdocs
Undergraduate and Exchange

Si Eun Kim, PhD 2016: Now at MIT

Parker Lee, PhD 2017: Now at Beyond Meat

Jacky Wallat, PhD 2017: Now at BASF

Melanie Hutnick, PhD 2017: Now at Estée Lauder

Dr. Richard Agnes: Now at CWRU (Med School)

Dr. Vidya Viswanathan: Now at UNIFI

Sergey Isarov, MS 2015: Now at Anokion

Kristen Wek, MS 2017: Now at Northwestern

Jenna Towslee, MS 2017: Now at Avery-Dennison

Jiawei Li, MS 2018: Now at Johnson Matthey

Dr. Shuai Shao, Now at Hospital of Zhengzhou U.

Gustavo Schinazi, PhD 2021: Now at IKO

Jack Edelbrock, BS 2014: Now at Northwestern

Kerry Martenis, BS 2014: Now at E. Michigan

Stacy Yeh, BS 2014: Now at Commonwealth Med.

Katie Rose, BS 2016:  Now at UPenn

Madeline Gelb, BS 2016: Now at UCLA

Annabelle Davey, BS 2016: Now at UVM Med.

Emily Harker, BS 2016: Now at UMich Med.

Alex Prossnitz, BS 2016: Now at U of Washington

Abigail Advincula, BS 2016: Now at Georgia Tech

Heather Froggatt, BS 2016: Now at Duke

David Cerrejon: Exchange from U of Tubingen

Ed Farrell-Marcellino, BS 2020

Jon Pokorski    |    858.246.3183    |