Dr. Ramella-Roman, PI


Jessica C. Ramella-Roman received an Electrical Engineering degree (Laurea) from the University of Pavia, Italy in 1993 and worked for five years in the semiconductor industry. She returned to academia in 1999 to pursue a Ph.D. degree in bio-optics with Dr. Steve Jacques and she received a Master's and Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from Oregon Health Science University in Portland, Oregon in 2004. She was a Post Doctoral Fellow at the Applied Physics Laboratory of the Johns Hopkins University from 2004 to 2005. She was then an Associate Professor at The Catholic University of America from 2005 to 2010 and an Associate Professor from 2010 to 2013. She is a Senior Research Scientist at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington DC, and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University.

Since 2013, she has served an Associate Professor at Florida International University, in the Biomedical Engineering Department and an Associate Professor on the Research Scientist Track in the Department of Cellular Biology and in the Department of Ophthalmology.

Her research focuses on the development of imaging modalities based on spectroscopy and polarization including multimodal applications of nonlinear microscopy.

Dr. Ilyas Saytashev, Postdoctoral Associate


Ilyas Saytashev received his Engineer’s degree in Radioelectronic systems from Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Russia in 2009. In 2016 he graduated with Ph.D. degree under the supervision of Prof. Marcos Dantus from the Department of Chemistry, Michigan State University, where he was working on ultrafast laser-matter and laser-tissue interactions including in vitro and in vivo nonlinear optical microscopy imaging of living tissues, and the effect of high-intensity near infrared light irradiation on living organisms.

Ilyas joined MPL in Fall 2016, his research interests include temporal and spatial ultrashort femtosecond pulse shaping, fast and minimally invasive multimodal nonlinear optical microscopy techniques, and biomedical applications of high-intensity laser – tissue interactions.

Joseph Chue-Sang, Graduate Student


Joseph Chue-Sang received his BS degree in Biomedical Engineering from Florida International University in 2013. He is a PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering department at Florida International University.

Joseph was awarded the SPIE Student Travel Grant to present his work at Photonics West in 2016. He is currently working on non invasive light-based methodologies to predict the risk of preterm labor.

Mariacarla Gonzalez, Graduate Student


Mariacarla Gonzalez received a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry from Florida International University (FIU), Miami in 2014. She is a NSF Bridge to Doctorate Fellow and a FEF McKnight Fellow, and is currently pursuing graduate studies in Biomedical Engineering (FIU) working under the supervision of Dr. Jessica Ramella-Roman.

Mariacarla’s research interests include analysis of non-linear images to note collagen modification in heart tissue, as well as, the use of polarimetry as a diagnostic tool to observe collagen changes in cervical tissue.

Andres Rodriguez, Graduate Student - Paths-Up Fellow


Andres Rodriguez, was born in Colombia and grew up in Miami, FL, where he earned a Degree as a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering at Florida International University. During his time as an undergraduate, he joined a research lab to study the mechanical properties of tissue scaffolds; He helped organize professional events and workshops as an E-board member of an engineering honor society (AEMB); and he team-worked on the “C-Scope: a portable, polarized, cost-effective colposcope” as a placing senior design project. This project introduced Andres into the world of optics, which has led him to join MPL full-time. Recently accepted to FIU’s graduate school as a PATHs-Up fellow, Andres aims to combat the clinical needs of under-served patients by researching and creating novel technologies.

Tananant Boonya-ananta, Graduate Student - Paths-up Fellow

Tananant (Mel) Boonya-ananta received his Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California in 2017. His Master’s work involved wind turbine gear box analysis with modeling and simulation using Finite Element Analysis and Multi-Body Dynamics. He is currently a NSF PATHS-UP Fellow and a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering working with Dr. Jessica Ramella-Roman. Mel is currently involved in the development of wearable technologies and devices using optical technology for the obese to aid in monitoring and care of chronic diseases.

Sean Miller, Graduate Student

Juan Boza, Undergraduate Student - STROBE Student

Juan is completing his Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering at FIU. He is a NSF STROBE student working with Dr. Jessica Ramella-Roman. Juan is involved in the development of new microscopes that use polarization to enhance the contrast of the extracellular matrix in a variety of tissues.

Angie Pierre, Undergraduate Student - Paths-Up and CURE student

Angie is completing her Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering at FIU. She is a NSF Paths-Up student working with Dr. Jessica Ramella-Roman. Angie is developing optical phantoms that mimik the optical properties of the skin, the phantoms are used to test new imaging and sensing modalities at the core of Paths-Up effort.


Graduate Students

Thu Anh Nguyen, Ph.D.

Currently Assistant Professor, Department of Electronic and Telecommunication Engineering, The University of Danang, Vietnam.

Pejhman Ghassemi, Ph.D.

Currently postdoctoral fellow, Food and Drug Administration, Washington DC.

Daniel Rodriguez,

Currently MD/PhD candidate at University of Miami School of Medicine

Mamdouh Aloraefy, Ph.D.

Mamdouh conducted his research thesis under Dr. Josh Pfefer at FDA, and is currently working for the Saudi Arabia government.

Marjian Nabili M.S., September 2009

Marjian is now a fellow at the FDA in Maryland

Haripriya Kandimalla M.S., October 2007

Afshin Nabili M.S., January 2008

Postoctoral Associates

Paul Lemaillet, Ph.D.

Currently Senior researcher at NIST, Washington DC.

Yuqiang (Bob) Bai Ph.D.

Currently postdoctoral fellow, University of Alabama.

Undergraduate Students

Karla Montejo, Undergraduate Student

Karla is a Senior in the Biomedical Engineering Department at FIU. Her interests are broad, she enjoys building tangible tools for medical applications and she is excited by interdisciplinary projects that require open communication and challenge her to pick up new skills

Karla is an HHMI fellow and she has interned at the Janelia Research Campus in Virginia.

Nicole Sevilla, Undergraduate Student

Nicole Sevilla is a Senior in the Biomedical Engineering Department at FIU. The translational aspect, from bench to clinic, of medical optics and the importance of global health has encouraged Nicole to take interest in designing low-cost, novel optical systems for future application in clinics worldwide.

Nicole has been an HHMI fellow for the last two years, she has conducted her research at Rice University in Dr. Richards-Kortum Laboratory