Our Team

Glenn Gaudette, PhD

Professor, Biomedical Engineering


Glenn R. Gaudette, PhD, is the William Smith Dean’s Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Executive Director of the Value Creation Initiative at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from SUNY – Stony Brook. He has over 75 publications, co-edited a book on Cardiovascular Regeneration, has 4 issued patents and founded a company based on the technology developed in his laboratory. His research, which is supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, aims to develop a treatment for the millions of Americans suffering from myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular diseases. He has pioneered the use of plants as scaffold for heart regeneration. His work has been featured throughout the world including the BBC, The Washington Post and Fox National News. His work was named one of the top medical breakthroughs of the year by Boston Magazine and was the 7th Most Popular Stories of 2017 in National Geographic. The work was invited to be on display at the Centre Pompidou (Paris) as part of an exhibit entitled “The Factory of Life”, which opened to a sold out crowd in February, 2019. Recently, a children’s book (From Plant to Human: The Extraordinary Spinach-Leaf Heart by Oscar Silver) was published about this inspiring work. Dr. Gaudette also teaches biomedical engineering design and innovation, biomechanics and physiology. He promotes the development of the entrepreneurial mindset in his students through support provided by the Kern Family Foundation. He was named the 2015 Faculty Member of the Year by the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network and was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the National Academy of Inventors. Dr. Gaudette also participates in multiple faculty governance committees at WPI and enjoys working with WPI students in the classroom, on projects and on research projects.

Emily Robbins

PhD Student

Emily is originally from North Bennington, Vermont. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Rochester in 2011. From there, she studied at Tufts University and received a Master of Engineering degree in Bioengineering in 2013. Emily then worked as a research engineer in the Department of Orthopaedics Research at Rhode Island Hospital. Under the supervision of Braden Fleming, PhD, she studied the biomechanics of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and lower extremity kinematics. In late 2014, Emily moved to Michigan where she worked as a craniomaxillofacial clinical engineer at Materialise. As a clinical engineer, she collaborated with DePuy Synthes and craniomaxillofacial surgeons to plan, design and manufacture patient-specific 3D printed surgical guides and models for surgery. In her free time, Emily loves to cycle on her road bike and is an avid alpine skier, and has previously worked as a part-time ski instructor and ski racing coach. Emily joined the WPI Myocardial Regeneration Lab in January 2017. Since joining the lab, her research focuses on utilizing decellularized plant scaffolds and stem cell derived cardiomyocytes to create a vascularized cardiac tissue engineered patch for patients who suffer from cardiovascular disease.

Jordan Jones

PhD Student

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Jordan Jones grew up in Memphis, TN. He graduated as Valedictorian from Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering. His interest in biomedical engineering began in high school through an internship at Memphis Bioworks. While there, he was able to study cartilage regeneration using human stem cells.  Jordan then began pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). He received several merit scholarships including the Marshall/Chavez/Means award. Jordan was a research assistant in Dr. Glenn Gaudette’s laboratory from 2014 to 2016. He worked on numerous research projects focused on cardiac regeneration, decellularization, and designed bioreactor systems. For his senior thesis, Jordan designed a system that utilized decellularized plant vasculature as a model for medical diagnostics and drug testing.

After graduating from WPI, Jordan worked in the medical device industry from 2016 to 2018. He then returned to WPI to pursue a PhD in Biomedical Engineering. In 2018 Jordan’s research was displayed at The Centre Pompidou in Paris, France, in the exhibit “La Fabrique Du Vivant”. Shortly after returning to WPI, Jordan became a New Harvest research fellow. He is currently working on developing lab-grown meat. Jordan uses decellularized plant tissues to form a vascularized scaffold suitable for 3D bioengineered tissues, including structured meats such as steak.

Richard Thyden

PhD Student

RickRick is a PhD student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute studying in vitro meat production, scalable bioreactor systems, and tissue mechanics. Rick is originally from Sutton Massachusetts and has lived in Worcester since 2012. He graduated from WPI with his bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering  in 2016. During his studies from 2014 to 2016, Rick was employed at VitaThreads LLC, a startup medical device company that designed a novel absorbable suture from a fibrin-based scaffold for wound closure. Here he conducted translational research to optimize the product’s mechanical properties, and increase production efficiency. For his senior design project, Rick designed a system that facilitated decellularization and recellularization of plant tissue as a vascularized in vitro model for drug screening. Following graduation, he worked at a contract manufacturing company for compounding custom polymers using twin screw extrusion units. Outside of the lab he is a piano and drum instructor, road cyclist, and a passionate fan for space exploration.

William DeMaria

Will DeMaria photoWill graduated from the University of Rochester in 2019 with a degree in Biomedical Engineering, where he performed undergraduate research in Danielle Benoit’s Biomaterials Lab. His main focus was to tailor the mechanical properties of hydrogels for two applications: the creation of a retinal epithelium model and the treatment of critical bone defects. During his undergraduate career, Will also worked as an Associate Biomedical Engineer at Medtronic, mainly focusing on Medtronic’s surgical stapling platforms. In the summer of 2019, Will moved back to his hometown of Worcester, MA and joined the Myocardial Regeneration Lab at WPI. His primary project has been decellularizing tubular plants to create tissue engineered vascular grafts.

Janet Zafiris

KEEN Program Grant Operations Administrator

HeadShotJanet Zafiris joined the Gaudette Lab in June of 2015.  From the start, Janet has been fully immersed in administering a grant awarded by the Kern Family Foundation promoting the integration of Entrepreneurial Mindset Learning into the curriculum across the WPI campus.  Previous to coming to WPI, Janet worked as the Executive Assistant to the Director of the New England Primate Research Center/Harvard Medical School and as Administrative Assistant in Radiology Research and the Immunology/Virology Program at UMass Medical School.  On her own time, Janet is owner of NBB Productions, an music event production company.  She is passionate about live music and bringing people together and has launched the Sunshine New England Music & Arts Festival series.