Sandra Rugonyi

Sandra Rugonyi, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator
Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Oregon Health & Science University
Read more about Dr. Rugonyi

Venkat Keshav Chivukula, Ph.D.

Venkat Keshav ("Keshav") Chivukula, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher

My exciting journey began halfway around the world in Mumbai, where I completed my bachelor's in mechanical engineering. I came to the University of Arizona to pursue my master's in mechanical engineering, which I completed in 2010. Throughout my master's education I was increasingly drawn towards applying the mechanical engineering concepts to biological applications, and this culminated in my pursuing a Ph.D. degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Iowa, where I researched novel methodologies to model blood cells at the micro-scale. Dr. Rugonyi’s research piqued my interest, forming a major contribution to my decision to join her lab – the other contributions were the prospects of a winter without freezing (which I experienced in Iowa) and a summer without boiling (which I experienced in Arizona)! My research in the Rugonyi Lab focuses on subject-specific Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling of blood flow in the developing heart and investigating the effect of altered hemodynamics on cardiogenesis in order to learn more about the cause of congenital heart defects. Outside of the lab, I love going on hikes, long drives, cooking (and eating good food!), painting, reading, and having philosophical discussions.


Stephen Haller
Research Assistant II

I graduated from Oregon State University in 2014 with a Bachelor's of Science in Bioengineering. My research focuses on modeling aspects of the cardiovascular system using finite element analysis (FEA) and computational fluid dynamics (CFD). Specifically, my projects include using patient specific data to model abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) to help predict rupture risks and and Blalock-Taussig (BT) Shunts to better understand flow dynamics. Apart from research I enjoy spending time outdoors hiking, backpacking, skiing and scuba diving. I also enjoy other hobbies such as woodworking and going to the cinema.

Madeline Midgett

Madeline ("Maddie") Midgett
Graduate Student

After receiving my undergraduate degree in bioengineering from Oregon State University in 2011, my curiosity propelled me to continue to learn and begin graduate study in the Biomedical Engineering program at OHSU. My research focuses on characterizing the interactions between blood flow and cardiac tissues in early heart development and the mechanisms by which biomechanical forces modulate cardiac growth and remodeling. Specifically, I am using a chick embryo outflow tract banding model to increase blood flow velocities, wall shear stress, and blood pressure and investigate the resulting cardiac malformation. Outside of the lab, I try to take advantage of all the outdoor activities Oregon has to offer, including biking, kayaking, snowboarding, and surfing. I’m also always on the hunt for that luscious latte and perfect pilsner.

Stepanie Stovall

Stephanie Stovall
Research Assistant II

I graduated from Linfield College with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and Communication Arts in 2014. During my time at Linfield, I conducted physical chemistry and nanotechnology research focused on optimization experiments for the qualitative and structural analysis of aqueous polypeptides using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy. Beginning as an intern in the summer of 2013 and transitioning to a full-time research assistant, my current focus in the Rugonyi Lab is on the molecular mechanisms by which hemodynamic perturbations influence the pathogenesis of congenital heart disease using the chicken embryo model. Outside of scientific research I enjoy attending farmers’ markets and doing virtually anything outdoors.


 Katherine ("Katie") Courchaine
Research Assistant II

When I left my California hometown for Lewis & Clark college, the only thing I knew for sure about the future was the possibilities were endless. In the space of my first year, I fell in love with Portland and with the Mathematical Sciences department at school. In May of 2014 I graduated with a bachelor's degree in Mathematics, and, pursuing and ever-growing interest in the application of math to medical research, departed for Wisconsin where I attended the Summer Institute for Training in Biostatistics. Now, following a brief adventure on the East Coast and the obligatory post-graduate meandering road trip home, I and thrilled to be back in the PNW and working as the newest Research Assistant in the Rugonyi Lab. When I am not at my desk, pondering how best to follow abdominal aortic aneurysm growth or working on embryonic/fetal heart models, chances are you will find me at the bouldering gym.  

Calder Dorn

Calder Dorn

In my “earlier years” I attended Sunset High School in Beaverton where outside of obtaining my high school diploma I slaved away to acquire the International Baccalaureate Diploma. While in high school I taught swimming at Farber Swim School, and swam on the Sunset Swim Team. Currently I’m enrolled as a sophomore in the Honors College at Oregon State University where I plan on obtaining a bioengineering major in hopes of going on to work within the medical field either as a doctor or a biomedical engineer. I acquired my internship position at OHSU in the Rugonyi Lab through the Johnson Internship Program at my school. In the lab I’m currently collaborating with Samantha Wallace, another Johnson intern, on exploring the potential and possibility for further research in the hemodynamics of pre-HH18 chicken embryos. Outside of the lab, I enjoy a variety of outdoor activities including swimming, backpacking, hiking, and playing pick-up games for basically any sport. While I consider my main hobby to be school, I also enjoy playing ukulele and piano in my spare time.

Madison (“Maddie”) Hayes-Lattin

Madison (“Maddie”) Hayes-Lattin

I’m currently a senior at Cleveland High School. I’m working to receive my International Baccalaureate diploma at Cleveland, but hope to study biomedical engineering in college. Working in Dr. Rugonyi’s lab is the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about my interest of biomedical engineering and how it is applied before I begin my college education. I’ve already learned a lot about the cardiovascular system and the technology used to analyze the system, and am excited to learn more! Outside of school and Dr. Rugonyi’s lab, I like to play soccer, ski on Mt. Hood, explore Oregon’s beautiful outdoors, and play the guitar.

Samantha (

Samantha (“Sam”) Wallace

I am an extrovert and an outgoing person. I like doing anything outdoors, playing with my dog, riding my bike, playing sports etc. I am originally from Vernonia, Oregon which has a population of 2,000 and I graduated from Vernonia High School in 2013. In the 2014-2015 school year I will be a sophomore majoring in bioengineering at Oregon State University. I enjoy being involved at school. I am going to be a residential assistant for the 2014-2015 school year at OSU. I am in Chemical, Biological, and Environmental Engineering (CBEE) Student club and Engineers without Borders at OSU. I am an intern in Sandra Rugonyi's lab and I am working on a project with Calder Dorn. We have been tracking the embryonic and cardiac development of chicken embryos in stages pre-HH 18, including the blood velocities of the outflow tract (OFT). The main focus of our work is tracking hemodynamics. My daily tasks consist mostly of wet lab activities: setting eggs in the incubator, opening them at certain times corresponding to the correct HH stages, and then using Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) to image the embryos' OFT of their hearts. Once this OCT data of the OFT is collected it is analyzed with MATLAB. The goal is to obtain and analyze data for stages pre-HH 18 and compare it to data obtained at Baylor University from mice at similar, early developmental stages.

Alumni (Previous Lab Members)

Aiping Liu, Ph.D. (2011), now post-doctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.
Sevan Goenezen, post-doctoral researcher (2011-2013), now Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.
Jaime Zelaya, currently working on the MD portion of his MD/Ph.D.
Monique Rennie, post-doctoral researcher
Xin Yin, post-doctoral researcher (2009-2012).
Zhenhe Ma, post-doctoral researcher
Liang Shi, post-doctoral researcher
Aaron Troyer, post-doctoral researcher
Trina Siebert, post-doctoral researcher
Ly Phan, post-doctroal researcher

Carly Shaut, post-doctoral researcher