Principal Investigator, Assistant Professor

   Siyuan Rao Ph.D

Dr. Siyuan Rao obtained her Ph.D in Materials Physics and Chemistry with Prof. Yan Xiang at Beihang University in 2015. Her graduate research focused on the development of bio-hybrid photoelectric devices and electronics. Dr. Rao began her postdoctoral research in neuroengineering and bioelectronics in Prof. Polina Anikeeva’s laboratory at MIT in 2016. During her postdoc career, Dr. Rao, with her colleagues, invented the chemomagnetic technique. She has been a Simons Postdoctoral Fellow from 2016 to 2018 with the co-supervision of Profs. Polina Anikeeva and Guoping Feng at MIT. She is a recipient of NIH Pathway to Independence Award (K99/R00).

Dr. Siyuan Rao started the Assistant Professor position and opened Neurobiological Interfaces Laboratory (NBI Lab) at UMass Amherst in December of 2020. In the Department of Biomedical Engineering, she teaches BMED-597/697N Neuroengineering course in spring semesters.  

In her free time, Dr. Rao likes jogging or biking along Norwottuck Rail Trail, and exploring the hiking sites in Amherst area.


Research Assistant Professor

   Qianbin Wang, Ph.D

Dr. Qianbin Wang is currently a lecturer in Biomedical Engineering Department and working as close research partner in NBI lab. Dr. Wang has been a postdoctoral research fellow working on neuro-mechanical interfaces in Harvard Medical School in Prof. Zhigang He’s lab from 2017-2020. Dr. Wang completed his B.E. in Biomedical Engineering at Sichuan University in 2010. In his Ph.D at Beihang University from 2010 to 2015, his research was focused on material-liquid interfaces in biological organisms and bio-inspired materials. After his graduation, he became a postdoctoral fellow in biomechanics at New York University under the supervision of Prof. Weiqiang Chen in 2016-2017.

Dr.Wang is interested in developing engineering techniques to reveal the mechanisms of mechanical stimulus-involved neural degeneration and regeneration in spinal cord injury and Glaucoma models.   

Graduate student

   Sizhe Huang

Sizhe received his B.E. in Materials Processing and Control Engineering at Northeastern University (China) in 2016, and M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering at West Virginia University in 2018. Before joining the NBI lab, he has various experiences in materials development. His research focused on the development of immunoassays for early cancer screening. His research interest includes developing optical probes and integrated devices for neural activity recording. In his spare time, he likes playing tennis, hiking, cycling, and listening to symphony music.


Graduate student

   Eunji Hong

Eunji Hong received her B.S. in Nano-Bioengineering at Incheon National University (South Korea) in 2016, and also received M.S. in the same college in 2018. Before joining the NBI lab, she has focused on stimuli-responsive drug delivery systems. Eunji is particularly interested in non-viral gene delivery carriers development for neurobiological diseases and the mechanism of gene delivery in nervous systems. She likes watching Netflix, hiking, and hanging out with friends in her spare time.


Graduate student

   Weixuan Chen

Weixuan received her B.S. in Biotechnology from South China University of Technology in 2020 and worked as a research assistant in City University of Hong Kong. She had various experiences in synthetic biology and neuroscience. She loves furry animals and likes reading novels, listening to music and swimming in her spare time.


Graduate student

   Jia Xu

Dr. Jia Xu is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of New Materials, Guangdong Academy of Sciences. Dr. Xu received his Ph.D in Materials Science and Engineering with Prof. Yuanzheng Yang at Guangdong University of Technology in 2018. Dr. Xu has been a postdoctoral fellow working on soft magnetic materials processing technology at GDUT in Prof. Qiusheng Yan`s lab from 2018-2020. Dr. Xu is focused on the development, preparation, and application of new iron-based amorphous and nanocrystalline soft magnetic alloy materials with high-performance. In his spare time, he likes reading, hiking, playing basketball, and listening to music..


Undergraduate student

   Jacob Tajchman

Jacob is an undergrad honors student with a custom major in the fields of Biomedical Engineering, Neuroscience, and Computer Science and Engineering. His research interests include minimally invasive detection and modulation of neural signals. He enjoys video games with his friends, the outdoors, and martial arts.


Undergraduate student

   Sophia Tsekov

Sophia is an undergraduate studying biomedical engineering and a member of the Commonwealth Honors College. Her research interests fall primarily within the fields of biomaterials, synthetic biology, and neurobiology, although she’s constantly discovering new interests, too. An avid reader and language learner, she also likes to combine her artistic creativity with her love of STEM in AI art projects and different forms of computational/bio design.


Undergraduate student

   Jingyi (Alex) Xu

Alex is an undergraduate student studying biomedical engineering at UMass Amherst. She’s interested in neuroelectronics and neurobiology. She currently lives in the IGU house near campus. She likes biking and watching movies during her free time.


Undergraduate student

   Christopher Glynn

Christopher Glynn is an undergraduate student in his Junior year of a Biomedical Engineering and Applied Mathematics dual degree program. He is particularly interested in degenerative neural disorders and the application of polymer chemistry, data science, and biomedical engineering principles to research in this area. He is currently abroad in Germany, researching biocatalytic polymer induced self-assembly (bioPISA) fabrication of polymer nanostructures at the Technische Universität Darmstadt. Presently, he is also working remotely at the Rao lab to analyze non-invasive electroretinography recordings of neural degeneration in glaucomatous mice. He is eagerly looking forward to the application and further development of these skills when he returns to Amherst this Summer.


Undergraduate student

   Arzell Jelani Steans

Arzell Jelani Steans is an undergraduate student studying biomedical engineering. Neuroscience and brain health are very important to him because if our brains are healthier, then our lives are better! Jelani has a strong interest in studying neurological and psychiatric disorders and how we can improve the lives of those living with them through neuroengineering! In his spare time, he likes to play guitar as well as piano while also tending to his vegetable and fruit garden!


Undergraduate student

   Varun Gopal

Varun is an honors undergraduate student studying biomedical engineering with a minor in mathematics on the Pre-Med track. His current research interests are neuroscience and gene therapy, specifically at the intersection of biomedical engineering and medicine. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his friends, watching TV and working out.


Undergraduate student

   Ifeoluwa Adeniyi

Ifeoluwa Adeniyi is an honors’ rising senior studying Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Math. She currently interested in the restoration of motor functions in patients suffering from paralysis due to spinal cord injury. She is also interested in biomarking of mental disorders to aid in better understanding of mental disorders and help clinicians better diagnose patients. In her free time, she loves to read novels and listen to music and dance.


Undergraduate student

   Rachel Collins

Rachel is an undergraduate honors student studying biomedical engineering at Umass Amherst. Her current research interests include biomaterials, gene therapy, and tissue engineering. In her spare time, she enjoys going to the beach, painting, and spending time with friends..


REU Undergraduate student

   Noah Flores

Noah Flores is an undergraduate student approaching the fourth year of college in the fall with a major in computer Engineering. His research interest is using his knowledge of data analysis with python to determine whether there is a real correlation between increase in neural activity and increase in social activity with another mouse. In his spare time, he likes to build Legos, go hiking, and work out at the recreation center.


High-schol student

   Trevor Xing-Xie

Trevor is a high school student entering his senior year at Lexington High School. Although first captivated by computer science through the Lexington Youth STEM Team (a group he co-founded that leverages computer science to serve local nonprofit organizations), Trevor could not ignore his interest in biochemistry, nurtured by school coursework. In an effort to maintain sight on both passions, he explored the world of bioinformatics and BME through podcasts, scientific journals, and an internship. As he joined efforts to promote students with disabilities at his school and became more mindful about sociological behaviors throughout his high school years, he could not help but be intrigued by the factors that affect human behaviors and brain function. Thus, the biomedical application of neuroscience revealed itself as the perfect intersection of his interests. Trevor’s research interests include developing computational models and visualizations of neural activity. In his free time, Trevor loves playing soccer and volleyball, designing logos, editing photos, and producing short films.


NBI Lab Alumni


Christine Yao
BME Class of 2021, UG researcher
Kayla Felix
BME Class of 2022, UG researcher
Collin Maley
BME Class of 2022, UG researcher
Jacob Naroian
BME Class of 2022, UG researcher
Sarah Shams
BME Class of 2022, UG researcher

                                                                            Table of the NBI Lab Elements

                                                                            NBI Lab Gallery

   NBI Lab Celebrating Class of 2022's Graduation 

   NBI Lab 2021 Thanksgiving/Christmas trip at Boston 

   NBI UG researcher, Junior Fellow, Kayla Felix, presenting in BME student seminar 

   Lab members participating in 2021 IoNT Poster Symposium 

   Mid-Autumn Gifts, home-made moon cakes, from Sizhe Huang  

   NBI Lab 2021 summer retreat at Quabbin reservoir 

   An artwork gift from Christine  


Welcome to join our team and find collaborative opportunities

240 Thatcher Rd
Amherst, MA 01003