dr. bret ulery


I joined the Department of Biomedical, Biological, and Chemical Engineering at the University of Missouri as an Assistant Professor in August 2014. After earning a B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering and a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Iowa in 2006, I conducted graduate research with Dr. Balaji Narasimhan at Iowa State University and received my Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering with a Graduate Minor in Immunobiology in 2010. Following completion of my doctoral studies, I spent two years as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Cato Laurencin’s research group in the Institute for Regenerative Engineering at the University of Connecticut Health Center followed by eighteen months as a Postdoctoral Scholar under the advisement of Dr. Matt Tirrell at the University of Chicago. As the Principal Investigator of the Biomodulatory Materials Engineering Laboratory (BioMEL), I lead a diverse team of researchers focusing on the synthesis of novel biomaterials to address a wide range of unmet clinical needs.  In my free time, I enjoy spending quality time with my wife who is a Veterinarian (the real Dr. Ulery in the family) walking our two beagles, Colby and Jack, around campus and all over Columbia.  I also like to travel, jog in half-marathons, and attend University of Iowa and Chicago sporting events.

Josiah Smith

I am a graduate student in BioMEL, focusing on designing delivery technology for peptide therapeutics. This research has evolved throughout my time here as we have developed DNA-labeled nanoparticles, novel peptide-polymers, and antimicrobial medical coatings. In addition to academics, I am interested in the cross-road between research and entrepreneurship and intend on pursuing that after graduation. When not in the lab, I volunteer with the Rock Campus Church and enjoy playing frisbee golf and training for triathlons.

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Xiaofei (Sophie) Wang

I am a Ph.D. candidate in Chemical Engineering joined Dr. Ulery’s group in 2015. I got my bachelor’s degree in applied chemistry from the South China University of Technology.  I am conducting an Immunomodulatory VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide) Amphiphile and Polyester Project now. Not only a chemist but a singer, a runner and a cat lover!


Major Benjamin Burch, M.d. M.s. “ben”

Ben is a resident physician in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Missouri. He holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and economics, as well as a Master of Science in molecular biology, both from the University of Alabama. He received his Doctor of Medicine from the UAB School of Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama. His research interests include improvement of spinal fusion augmentation methods, spine/hip/knee biomechanics, musculoskeletal infections, medical applications of 3D printing, and molecular techniques in orthopaedic surgery. He is a resident member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the North American Spine Society, AO Spine and AO Trauma organizations, and the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons.

In his spare time Ben enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, mountain biking, and playing with his yellow lab Augie..

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Blake Darkow

I am a first year masters student in the BioMEL Group. A native of Columbia, I grew up going to Mizzou sporting events and cheering on the Tigers. It was a no-brainer for me to attend the great academic institution in my own backyard for college. I graduated with a bachelor's degree in Bioengineering from Mizzou in 2016. After graduating, I spent two years with a startup medical device company as a product engineer. I am now a part of the BioMEL team focusing on osteoinductive hydrogels for bone regeneration. The primary focus of my work is the application of the gels in spinal fusions. In the future, I plan on pursuing a career in medicine where I can apply my engineering background to provide innovative care to my patients.

Megan Schulte

My name is Megan Schulte.  I'm a first-year Master's student in the Biological Engineering Department.  My current research is  antimicrobial peptide amphiphile coatings.  My future plans include finishing my degree and getting a job in a related field (ideally in R&D).  Some hobbies of mine include running and reading.


Brett Rygelski

I am a second year Chemical Engineering Master's Student working with Immunomodulatory Micelles. I attended Miami University for undergrad. I enjoy playing soccer and watching the St. Louis Blues.


My name is Reagan Krueger and I am a freshman chemical engineering student.  I am a part of the Immunomodulatory Materials subgroup. My research focuses on using micelles to prevent cardiovascular stiffening.  In my free time I enjoy running and spending time outdoors.



I am a junior currently studying chemistry and I have been a member of the Biomodulatory Materials Engineering Laboratory since Fall 2017.  In the past, I have worked to develop a hydrogel for the purpose of healing vertebral compression fractures in people with osteoporosis. Currently, my research involves developing novel immunomodulatory peptide polymers for the purpose of preventing vascularized composite allograft rejection.  At the moment, I plan on pursuing a PhD after I graduate from Mizzou. Outside of school, I enjoy running and listening to music.


Julie nguyen

Julie Nguyen is a 4th year chemical engineering and music double major at Mizzou. When she's not doing engineering homework, she's probably practicing her viola in the music building. Outside of school, Julie likes to paint and will hike if the weather is nice. At BioMEL, her current research is on injectable hydrogels. After Mizzou, Julie plans on pursuing a PhD in chemical engineering.

Gracen Seim

My name is Gracen Seim, and I am a junior studying Chemical Engineering here at the University of Missouri.  I began my work with BioMEL as a Discovery Fellow student in the Fall of 2017.  I am currently assisting a master’s student in micelle vaccine research, specifically working on stimulation of cytotoxic T cells.  As an engineer on campus, I’ve gone on two study abroad trips, to China and Italy.  I am also involved on campus in AIChE, Tau Beta Pi, SWE, and my social sorority.  After graduating from Mizzou in December of 2019, I plan on entering the energy or biotech industry as a chemical engineer, eventually working towards my MBA. 


Justin lannin

I am a sophomore, chemical engineering and applied economics major. My hobbies are that I like to play sports. My current research is the barium release project. My future plan is to go on to grad school.

Lauren Baratta

My name is Lauren Baratta, and I am a sophomore chemical engineering student. I am pretty involved on campus, being the Philanthropy chair of Alpha Omega Epsilon (a professional and social engineering sorority), the Professional Outreach chair for Mizzou Engineering Student Council, and a member St. Pat's Board this year. In my free time, I really enjoy lifting weights, cooking, and photography. In the lab, I have previously worked on polymerizing glutamic acid, focusing on protection and deprotection of functional groups. I am soon going to begin work on the synthesis of a polymer containing resveratrol that is meant to have anti-obesity effects. I am still deciding on whether or not I want to go to graduate school, or if I will work in industry (I am hoping to have an internship or co-op soon to help me decide).


evan schoenherr

My name is Evan Schoenherr and I am a junior pursuing a B.S. in chemical engineering with minors in German language and mathematics. My current research focuses on the design and synthesis of new and novel polypeptide polymers made from various amino acid N-carboxyanhydrides. Outside of the lab I enjoy playing basketball, hiking, and visiting new places. In the future, I hope to work as a chemical engineer in the medical/pharmaceutical field and I would love to pursue an opportunity to work internationally.

mollie harrison

My name is Mollie Harrison and I am a sophomore chemical engineering student pursuing a minor in environmental science. My research in BioMEL focuses on using simple signalling molecules to induce angiogenesis in stem cells. Outside of the lab, I enjoy hiking, running, and reading. Music also plays a big part in my life, as I play french horn, ukulele, and sing, and am a DJ at the local radio station. I am considering pursuing graduate school after I complete my degree, and am especially interested in medical and environmental related engineering.


Aiden ellis

My name is Aiden Ellis and I am currently a senior dual-degree candidate studying Chemical Engineering and Romance Languages with an emphasis in Spanish. I started research with BioMEL in January of 2018 when I found out that the group had a medical research focus. At first, I worked on 3-D printing collagen structures that are designed to induce nerve regeneration, but I now work on poly-amino acid nanoparticles and micelles. Outside of school, I volunteer at the VA, I love doing outdoor activities such as hunting and skiing, and I play the guitar.  I just applied to work as a community health volunteer in Ecuador for 27 months with the Peace Corps and I will finish my undergraduate education here at Mizzou in December of 2018. After the Peace Corps, I hope to attend medical school.

Bryce lindaman

I'm a junior in chemical engineering currently in the Immunomodulatory Materials subgroup. A large part of my work is related to synthesis of peptide amphiphiles based on Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide (VIP) and their anti-inflammatory effects. I play the cello and enjoy video games and working out at Mizzou's rec center. Before graduating I hope to work a co-op to better understand the industrial aspects of the discipline.


Andrew greenwald

My name is Andrew Greenwald and I am a senior in Chemical Engineering student from Saint Louis. I am currently working with cell cultures to determine the biocompatibility of relevant organic molecules in the lab. Each year I enjoy traveling to Colorado to ski during winter break. In my free time I play recreational sports with my friends and read as much as I can. I will hopefully be graduating in May 2019 and be joining industry as a full fledged Chemical Engineer.


Kylie Dahlgreen

My name is Kylie Dahlgren and I am a senior student in the Biological Engineering department with an emphasis in the biomedical field. I plan on pursuing a Master of Science in Bio Engineering following my graduation in Spring 2019. In the past four years, I have also had the opportunity to compete as a Division I Student Athlete as a member of the Mizzou Swim & Dive team. I enjoy staying active in and out of the pool, traveling to new places as well as spending time with my friends and family. 

Caitlin Leeper

My name is Caitlin Leeper and I am a senior pursuing a B.S. in chemical engineering with a minor in mathematics.  I joined the BioMEL group in the fall of 2016, and my current research is in micelle vaccine characterization and applications.  On campus I am involved in SWE, Tau Beta Pi, and St. Pat’s Board.  Some of my hobbies include running, cooking, and being an avid Green Bay Packers fan.  After graduation this December, I plan on entering industry as a chemical process or design engineer.


Conner Flatt

My name is Conner Flatt and I am a Freshman Chemical Engineering Major. I am interested in possibly going onto med school and learning to practice Internal Medicine or Pediatrics in the future. Some of my hobbies include woodworking, watching movies and sports.


Joe Anderson

My name is Joe Anderson.  I am a freshman majoring in chemical engineering with an emphasis on materials and minoring in mathematics.  I’m hoping to work in industry after I graduate, perhaps as a process engineer, but currently I am unsure about exactly where I want to go.  During my free time I often play my guitar, and I also enjoy doing outdoor activities like biking or hiking.

Ellie Snoke

I am a freshmen majoring in chemical engineering and minoring in Spanish. My research is on the injectable osteoinductive hydrogels that will be used to treat spinal compression fractures. Outside of the lab, I am involved in several other campus organizations including Alpha Omega Epsilon (the engineering sorority), the concrete canoe team, and Mizzou Engineering Student Council. In my free time, I enjoy doing yoga and hiking. 

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Austin Kimes

I am a senior in Biological Engineering working in the hydrogel subgroup. My current research projects focus on developing Substance P gels, studying surgical uses of complex hydrogels, and creating novel delivery methods of vancomycin. After I receive my B.S. in Engineering, I plan to attend Veterinary School and go on to a lab animal residency with a PhD. I play the violin and piano, and love to go hiking/traveling with my two dogs in my free time.


Joshua Shelton

My name is Joshua Shelton and I am a senior in the Biological Engineering program with an emphasis in biomedical engineering. I am currently developing and optimizing methods for creating anti-microbial coatings, using peptide amphiphiles, on items that are used to assist and to manage patients, both in and out of the hospital. My work primarily consists of coating silicone and PVC, which are common materials that are used to make catheters (both urinary and intravenous) and endotracheal tubes that are used to ventilate critical care patients. After graduating, I will be pursuing an education and career in medicine to become a pediatric clinician or a pediatric surgeon (while doing part-time research). In the free time that I have, I enjoy playing guitar, exercising and soon, I will be enjoying my new hobby of motorcycle…-ing?

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