Lab Members

Principle Investigator – Zhilei Chen (

2008 – 2014, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University
2014 – 2016, Assistant Professor, Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology, Texas A&M University Health Science Center
2016 – present, Associate Professor, Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology, Texas A&M University Health Science Center

2000 B.S, Physics, East China Normal University
2006 Ph.D, Biophysics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2008 Postdoc, Virology, Rockefeller University

Honors and Awards
2002, 2003 Student Conference Travel Grant, UIUC
2004 Outstanding Student Oral Presentation in the CMB/Biophysics Symposium, UIUC
2006 Eugene Rabinowich Graduate Fellowship, UIUC
2012 US Air Force Young Investigator Award
2012 National Science Foundation CAREER Award
2013 Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station Select Young Faculty Award
2017 NIH New Innovator Award

Zhilei Chen received her B.S. in Physics from the East China Normal University and completed her PhD in Biophysics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign working with Huimin Zhao on the directed evolution of proteins as gene switches and precision DNA scissors for gene therapy. These works fostered her passion for biotherapeutics engineering and inspired her to join the laboratory of Charles Rice at the Rockefeller University for her postdoctoral studies where she developed high-throughput assays to identify small molecule antivirals against hepatitis C virus, an underrecognized public health threat with a worldwide occurrence rate that is nearly five times that for HIV. Research in the Chen Medicinal Protein Lab integrates tools from protein engineering, e.g. phage display, yeast display, high-throughput screening, with those applied in virology, bacteriology and immunology with the goal of developing a new generation of protein-based therapeutics. Her current research program centers on the engineering of antibody surrogate proteins, especially those that are compatible with high yield production by microbial recombinant expression hosts, for the treatment and/or prevention of viral (Zika, influenza, hepatitis) and bacterial (Clostridium difficile and pathogenic E. coli) infections.


Research Scientist – Karuppiah Chockalingam (2018 – )

2000 B.S. Chemical Engineering, Melbourne Univesity
2006 Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2008 Postdoc. Chemical Engineering, Columbia University
Email: chockalingam AT


Assistant Research Scientist – Yu Zeng (2018 – )

2011-2018 Postdoc and  Assistant Research Scientist, Chemistry, Texas A&M University
Email: yzeng at


Postdoc – Rudo Simeon (2016 – )

2007 B.S. Chemical Engineering, Howard University
2013 Ph.D. Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University
Email: tgrudo AT



Postdoc – Vikas Chonira (2019 – )

2018 Ph.D. University of Waikato, New Zealand
2019 Postdoc. Northwestern University

Email: chonira AT


Research Scientist – Domyoung Kim (2020 – )

2010 Ph.D. Tohoku University, Japan
Email: kimd17 AT


Postdoc – Qasim Alsouhail (2020 – )

2016 Ph.D. Kansas State University
Email: qasim AT


Undergraduate researcher – Blake Mitchell (2018 – )

Undergraduate researcher – Shawn Alex (2019- )

Undergraduate research – Alyssa Low (2019- )


 Lab Alumni

Former Postdocs and Research Scientists

  1. Lillian Yi Li, 2009-2010
  2. Atul Kumar, 2010
  3. Karuppiah Chockalingam, 2008-2011
  4. Dagmara Korona, 2012-2013
  5. Dongli Guan, 2012-2014 (Currently scientist at Sigma-Aldrich)
  6. Ana Chamoun, 2014-2016 (Currently postdoc fellow, Texas A&M University Veterinary Medicine)
  7. Peter Heinzelman, 2017-2019
  8. Zeyu Peng, 2017-2019 (Currently scientist at Biosion, Inc. China)

Former Graduate Student

  1. Rudo Simeon, 2009-2013, Ph.D. East Bay Municipal Utility District, California
  2. Cory Klemashevich, 2009-2012, MS
  3. Miguel Ramirez, 2008-2013, Ph.D. University of Otago, New Zealand
  4. Ana Chamoun, 2009-2014, Ph.D. (Currently postdoc fellow, Texas A&M University Veterinary Medicine)
  5. Lizy Yu, 2016-2017
  6. Nagarjun Kasaraneni, 2012-2017, Ph.D. (Current scientist at Lonza-Viral Therapy)

Former Visiting Scholar

  1. Xuesong Liang, 2012-2013. M.D. Department of Infectious Disease, Shanghai Changhai Hospital.

Former Undergraduate Students

  1. Taylor Sugg, 2009
  2. Juan Sebastian Jerez, 2010
  3. Najla Valdes, 2008-2012
  4. Osama Qureshi, 2010
  5. Jeanene Tomecek, 2012
  6. Ivan Barrera, 2012
  7. Vivian Salamanca, 2011
  8. Daniel Jacobsen, 2010
  9. Thomas McMillian, 2012-2013
  10. Partho Giri, 2012
  11. John Roger, 2012-2013, currently University of Houston Medical School.
  12. Corbin Williams, 2013
  13. Elaine Chen, 2017, currently Vanderbilt University.
  14. Ashley Wrinkle, 2019 REU