Current Members

Jason Borgus

Sixth-year Graduate Student in Chemistry
Jason graduated with high honors and a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Guilford College in 2014.  While at Guilford, his research was mainly focused on gene therapy applications utilizing viral vectors and small novel particles for the treatment of genetic disorders, disease, and cancer.  His work in the Venton lab is currently focused studying how transient adenosine release in the rodent brain is affected by the gender of the subject.  Outside of the lab, he is involved with the LEAD (Learning through Experimentation and Demonstration) outreach program and enjoys gaming, spending time with family and friends, and listening to audiobooks.

Qun Cao

Fifth-year Graduate Student in Chemistry
Qun Cao graduated from University of Science and Technology of China in Chemical Physics in 2016. While there, he studied controlled-synthesis of nanomaterials and the applications of them. He joined the Venton lab in September 2016. He currently works on the development of carbon electrode materials. In his spare time, he likes music, history and literature. He is a also a member of Chinese music ensemble in UVa.

Yuanyu Chang

Fourth-year Graduate Student in Chemistry
Yuanyu Chang graduated from Sichuan University in 2017 with a B.Sc. in Chemistry. He joined in Venton lab in September 2017. Currently, he works on the development of modified carbon microelectrodes and neurotransmitter measurement in brain slice. In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and other sports.

Dana DiScenza

Lab Manager

Dana graduated with a PhD in Chemistry in 2018 and a Master’s in Business Administration in 2017 from the University of Rhode Island. Her research at the University of Rhode Island was focused on the detection of toxicants in various biological samples and environmental matrices using fluorescence-based sensors. After graduate school, Dana worked as a project manager for the Chemical & Engineering News BrandLab in Washington, DC. In July 2019, Dana relocated to Charlottesville, VA with her husband, and is currently the Laboratory Manager for the Venton Lab. Outside of chemistry, Dana loves to read, cook, and explore the Charlottesville area. She also owns a science birthday party company called The Party Elements!

Eduard Dumitrescu

Postdoctoral Researcher

Eduard graduated with a Ph.D. from Clarkson University in May 2019 under the supervision of Dr. Silvana Andreescu. His work there was focused on the use of zebrafish embryos as a biological model (1) for toxicological assessment of nanomaterials and chemical additives employed in industrial and consumer applications, and (2) for in vivo electrochemical monitoring of biomarkers related to oxidative stress and neurotransmission. Following, Eduard joined Dr. Venton’s lab where he currently works on sensors development and electrochemical detection of neurotransmitters in fruit flies. Outside of the lab, he enjoys cooking and exploring different cuisines, watching movies and TV series, and playing fantasy football.

Kelly Dunham

Third-year Graduate Student in Chemistry

Kelly Dunham graduated from Tennessee Tech University in 2018 with degrees in Molecular & Cellular Biology and Biochemistry.  As an undergraduate researcher, she studied the distribution and eradication of an invasive algal species in Tennessee rivers and molecular genetics topics related to methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus in commercial pork products and the symbiotic and antagonistic microbiome interactions of Tennessee bats susceptible to White Nose Syndrome.  In the Venton lab, Kelly is currently working on serotonin detection and measurement in drosophila and hopes to apply her work to pharmacology.  When she has time, she loves to read, knit, cook, and spend time with her big family.

Malli Ganesana

Research Scientist
Malli received his PhD from Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY in 2012. While at Clarkson, his research focus was developing electrochemical biosensors for environmental and clinical applications. Later he did his postdoc at Dartmouth Medical School, Lebanon, NH. While at Dartmouth his research focus was monitoring neurotransmitters in real-time using enzymatic biosensors during the evolution of stroke in vivo. His current research in Venton lab focuses on understanding the spontaneous, transient adenosine release in multiple brain regions of rodent brain during the evolution of ischemia-reperfusion injury. Outside of chemistry, Malli enjoys playing cricket, badminton, hiking and any outdoor activities. 

Julia Lucktong

Undergraduate Researcher

Julia is an undergraduate student from Roanoke, VA. She is working towards a degree in chemistry with a minor in religious studies. Currently, Julia is working on methods for activating carbon fiber microelectrodes. Outside of academic life, she loves hiking, painting, and trying new restaurants.

Zijun Shao

Third-year Graduate Student in Chemistry

Zijun Shao graduated from Sichuan University, China in 2017. After that she spent one year working with Dr. Stuart Licht aiming at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with chemical cells. In Venton group, she is now working on carbon nanomaterials. She enjoys reading and traveling in her spare time.

Mimi Shin

Postdoctoral Researcher
Mimi Shin received her PhD from the University of Kansas in 2016, working with Prof. Michael Johnson. While at KU, her research was focused on the detection of electrically evoked dopamine release in Zebrafish brain. Her research project in the Venton lab is on measuring dopamine release in adult Drosophila, fruit flies. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, and camping. 

Courtney Vetter

Undergraduate Researcher

Courtney is an undergraduate student working towards a biochemistry degree. She is currently working on measuring the neurotransmitters octopamine and tyrosine in fruit flies using nanodiamond coated electrodes. She enjoys writing poetry and painting in her free time.