Juan Pablo Giraldo

Principal Investigator


University of California, Riverside

Associate Professor

Department of Botany and Plant Sciences


Faculty Member Affiliations

Material Science and Engineering program | Cell Molecular and Developmental Biology | Institute for Integrative Genome Biology | Center for Plant Biology | Microbiology

Co-Investigator, NSF Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology

Ph.D. Plant Biology - Holbrook Lab, Harvard University

NSF Postdoctoral Fellow in Nanobiotechnology - Strano Research Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Postdoctoral Researchers 

Su-Ji Jeon

Postdoctoral researcher


Su-Ji earned her Ph.D. in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Hanyang University, Republic of Korea. Her research focuses on the synthesis of carbon-based nanomaterials and organic/inorganic hybrids for optical sensor for the detection of biomarkers and the investigation of their physical and chemical properties using various spectroscopic methods. For her doctoral work, she investigated functional nanomaterials for optical sensing and photocatalysis applications. Su-Ji's research currently focuses on studying and modeling the mechanisms of nanoparticle uptake in leaves and their use as sensors of plant signaling molecules.

Hye-In Kim

Postdoctoral researcher

Hye-In earned her Ph.D. in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Hanyang University, Republic of Korea. Her research focused on the Interface modulation of optical nanomaterials for the detection of disease biomarkers. She had deeply investigated the effects of surface modification, which can control the affinity between the nanomaterials and the target biomarkers. After she got her Ph. D. in 2020, she worked for the Korea Institute of materials science (KIMS) and developed a nanomaterial functionalized 3D scaffold to detect and inhibit an infectious bacterial proliferation in the field of artificial transplantation until joining this lab in Sep 2021. Hye-In's research currently focuses on studying and modeling the mechanisms of nanoparticle uptake in leaves or Algaes and their use as sensors of plant signaling molecules.

Sandeep Sharma

Postdoctoral researcher

Sandeep has been a member of the Dr. Juan Pablo Giraldo lab since February 2022. His current research interest lies in the fabrication of carbon based nanocarriers to control plant pathogens. Before joining Dr. Giraldo lab, he worked as a postdoc for a year with research focused on “Fabrication of halloysite nanotubes based nanocarrier for plant disease management” in Prof. Ester Segal lab at Technion-IIT, Israel. He received his Ph.D. degree (2015-2020) from Institute of Nano Science and Technology, Mohali-India, under the supervision of Dr. Vijayakumar Shanmugham. His Ph.D. research focused on the “Fabrication of Graphene-oxide based nanocarriers for agrochemicals delivery and to augment plant functions through nanobionics approach”. In 2014, he worked as a junior research fellow on a project “PCR based diagnosis of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis in patient samples” in Prof. Promod Mehta lab at M.D. University- India. He received his M.Sc. degree in Biotechnology in 2012 from M.D. University and B.Sc. in Biotechnology from

Kurukshetra University- India in 2010.

Md Reyazul Islam

Postdoctoral researcher 

Md Reyazul Islam joined the Dr. Giraldo lab at the University of California, Riverside, as a postdoctoral scholar in late February of 2022. He obtained his Ph.D. from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), Pohang, South Korea in August 2019. During his Ph.D. studies, he developed a cost-effective and efficient affinity purification method and produced various pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals proteins using plant-based expression systems. After completing his Ph.D., he worked as a postdoc researcher for about a year and a half in his Ph.D. lab. In 2021, he received a Penn Biomedical Postdoctoral fellowship for postdoctoral study at the School of Dental Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA, where he worked on oral delivery of plant-made biopharmaceuticals using a Chloroplast production system. He is interested in translational research and drug development to create cost-effective biopharmaceuticals and vaccines to improve global access to modern medicines. His current research focuses on the development of mRNA vaccines in plant chloroplasts. In his spare time, he enjoys photography, hiking, and traveling. 


Postdoctoral researcher

Bhaskar earned his Doctoral degree from the School of Life and Environment Sciences, Deakin University, Australia. During his doctoral studies, he worked on hydroxyapatite-based nanocarriers for agrochemicals/nutrients delivery to cereal grain crops. He also studied ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) and root-specific genes in plant physiological development and stress environment. He was a collaborator in the research projects focused on the structural and molecular characterization of proteins involved in disease pathogenesis (Malaria, Tuberculosis etc.). Bhaskar is currently engaged in the synthesis of biocompatible nanomaterials for nitrogen nutrient delivery to crops.

Graduate Students

Gregory Newkirk

Ph.D Student

NDSEG Fellow


Gregory worked on immunotoxin production inside algal chloroplasts with the Mayfield lab while earning his B.S. from the University of California, San Diego. He studied the roles that algae has in our ecosystem, and as a source of unique proteins and lipids. His current research focuses on fusing microbiology with nanotechnology; augmenting microbes with nanoparticles and creating new ways to harness the power of microbial communities.

Christopher Castillo

Ph.D Student

NSF Center of Sustainable Nanotechnology


Christopher received his B.S. in Biochemistry from California State University, Los Angeles where he researched lipid transfer proteins putatively involved in Arabidopsis programmed senescence mechanism. His Ph.D. research is focused on fundamental understanding of plant biomolecule interactions with nanoparticles such as the formation of nanoparticle coronas in Arabidopsis plants.

Leticia Meza

Ph.D. Student

Leticia Meza earned her BA from Chicago State University before starting her Ph.D. in the Botany and Plant sciences program at UC Riverside. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate who works with our lab, and her studies target leveraging plant-microbe interactions to optimize agricultural strategies. Her research is a collaborative effort that tests the ability of functionalized carbon dots coated with sugar molecules to deliver fungicides directly to fungal structures efficiently, thus enabling the precision application of pesticides. 

Supreetha Sivaraj

M.S. Student

Supreetha received her B.S. in Technology-Biotechnology from St. Joseph's college of Enineering in India. Current research progress in observing and studying the effect of Polyacrylic Nanoceria (PNC) on Chlamydomonas reinhardtii 124 wild type species, towards the application of improving biofuel production

Marina Anderson-Youngblood

Ph.D. Student

Marina is a Plant Biology PhD student studying nanofertilizers and nanoparticle-mediated gene delivery in plants. She attained her BS in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of La Verne and graduate from their Honors Program. She entered industry for the next five years working at a lateral flow assay company Lumos Diagnostics, a plant biotechnology company Cibus then landing at Scripps Research Institute in the labs of Jamie Williamson and Danielle Grotjahn. There, she used cryo-electron microscopy to study bacterial ribosomes. Marina is a San Diego native and loves to rock climb, garden and spend time with her family and cats. 

Undergraduate Students


Summer Undergraduate Research Student

Marena is an undergraduate at University of Puerto Rico, Cayey pursuing her B.S. in Biology and plans to pursue a Ph.D in the biomedical field. She is currently a summer MacREU student supported by the NFS Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology. Marena is interested in studying microbial organisms such as algae, but she also a passion for studying plants. This summer she is working on investigating how pectin coated Fe 3 O 4 nanoparticles form protein coronas with RuBisCO, a very important enzyme on Earth that is responsible for fixing atmospheric carbon dioxide into food for the plant and for us. In her free time, Marena loves to go to the beach, spend time with her dogs, and volunteer to help those with physical disabilities.



Honhong Wu - Professor, Huazhong Agricultural University - 1000 Young Talents of China

Jinming Li - Professor, South China Normal University

Peiguang Hu - Senior Scientist, Westwood Biosciences


Ph.D. students

Jing An - Postdoctoral Researcher, South China Agricultural University

Israel Santana - Postdoctoral Researcher, Genentech


Undegraduate students

Colleen Ahern - Ph.D. student at UC Santa Barbara

Victoria Morris - Master's student at Brandeis University

Maquela Faulkner - Graduate student at Keck Graduate Institute

Mackenzie Fahlgren - Engineer at First Light Energy

Cristina Moreno-Borja - Graduate student at UC Riverside

Joshua Dansie  - Lab Operator at Bio Reliance

Nicholas Tito - Graduate student at William Carey School of Medicine

Gail Garcia -  Senior R&D Laboratory Support Technologist at Sandia National Laboratories

Pedro de Allende - 

Alejandro Rivera-Madera - Member of the Rodríguez-Martínez Lab at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus

Claire Alford

Eugene Young Kwon - Graduate student at UCLA