Lab Members


Adriana Avila-Flores,PhD.

Principal Investigator

Ph.D. – Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

M.S. – University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, SPAIN

B.Sc. – Autonomous University of Madrid, Madrid, SPAIN



I graduated from the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain with a M.S. in Organic Chemistry.  Afterwards, I worked two years for a Biotechnology company in Bilbao, Spain. In 2010, I joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Kansas State University to pursue my Ph.D. degree. My first postdoctoral experience was also at Kansas State University, in Dr. Gerald Reek’s laboratory. Then, in 2015, I joined Dr. Easley’s laboratory at Auburn University for a second postdoctoral experience before starting my tenure-track in Biological Sciences.

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Graduate Students

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Nitish Kunte, M.S.

Ph.D. Student 


Current Project: 1. Branched Amphiphilic Peptide Capsules (BAPCs) as a delivery system for mRNA vaccines in murine model.

2. BAPCs mediated oral RNA interference in Popillia japonica.

Why he joined the lab?: Masters dissertation projects introduced me to the field of nanotechnology. This elevated my passion for nanomedicine and inspired me to work on non-toxic biomaterials for gene delivery.

Favorite cell type: Stem cells 

Hobbies: Traveling, Food, Music and Movies 


Erin McGraw 

Ph.D. Student


Current Project: 1. Design and synthesis of a new peptide nanoparticle that is biochemically similar to the mammalian cell membrane.

2. Using a new combinatorial system of lasers and nanoparticles to deliver molecules through fungal cell walls.

Why she joined the lab?:  I joined this lab as an undergraduate and decided to continue with my graduate studies under Dr. Flores. I enjoy the multidisciplinary nature of my projects and getting to explore combinatorial delivery methods.

Favorite cell type: Saccharomyces cerevisiae 

Hobbies: Baking, crochet, and Dungeons&Dragons 

Sam Y.jfif

Sam Yarbrough

Masters Student


Current Project: BAPC-mRNA stimulated melanogenesis and cellular uptake mechanisms and intracellular trafficking of BAPCs-DNA complexes. 

Why he joined the lab?:  I was intrigued by Dr. Avila-Flores projects involving transfection with peptide nano-particles. Also, I wanted to learn about the benefits of nanomedicine. 

Favorite cell typeNeutrophils 

Hobbies: Drumming, Basketball, Drawing, Snowboarding, Relaxing at the Lake

Undergraduate Students


Xavier Streety

Undergraduate Researcher

Current Project: Synthesizing branched peptides with covalently attached fluorophores 

Why he joined the lab?: I joined the group because I was interested in applications of peptide chemistry and found the challenge of synthesizing and testing the properties of nanoparticles to be exciting. 

Favorite cell type: Dendritic cells

Hobbies: In my free time, I like to run, read, and watch TV series.

Lab Technicians


Matthew Westerfield

Research Assistant


Current Project: Biodistribution of BAPCs in mice models

Why he joined the lab?:  I joined the lab to learn new research skills. This lab will give me many opportunities to improve my understanding of nanoparticles and immunology.

Favorite cell type: Red blood cells

Hobbies: Biking and playing with my dog

Previous Lab Members

Jess Choi

Martin Brown

Drew Hoyt

Daniel Udochi

Sydney Bell

Sidney Bailey

Jonathan Roberts

Hannah Skipworth