PhD Candidates


Megan Pendleton – Megan is a PhD graduate student in Mechanical Engineering (co-advised by Drs. Tony Keaveny and Grace O’Connell). Megan’s research is focused on understanding the effect of radiation on the mechanics and quality of bone tissue for both space flight and radiotherapy applications. She is supported by a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship.

Bo Yang – Bo is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate. Bo joined the Berkeley Biomechanics Laboratory in 2015, and his current research focuses on simulating mechanical behavior of the intervertebral disc using finite element modeling. This is a great research topic for him, because he likes math and human body mechanics. Bo also got interested in using magnetic resonance imaging to investigate properties of soft tissue, since it is efficient and noninvasive. Currently, he is supported by a Signatures Innovation Fellowship.

PhD Graduate Students

Semih Bezci – Semih Bezci (aka Jason) is a 3rd year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering Department and has been working in Berkeley Biomechanics Lab since 2013. He received his BS at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on joint level biomechanics of intact and injured discs, and swelling properties of the intervertebral disc. He was awarded William C. Webster Graduate Fellowship in 2016 and Henry Lurie Family Fund in 2017. Semih is originally from Istanbul, Turkey and has been living in the US for 7 years. In his free time, he likes to spend time with his friends, take pictures, hike and watch scary movies. There’s nothing more than a pug or a frenchie that makes Semih happier.

Shannon Emerzian – Shannon is a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering, co-advised by Drs. Tony Keaveny and Grace O’Connell. Shannon’s research is focused on understanding the effect of ionizing radiation on vertebral biomechanics, and is funded by the Berkeley Chancellor’s Fellowship (2015-2017) and the Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (2017-2020).

Werbner Bio Pic_sm

Ben Werbner – Ben received his BA Applied Mathematics (focus in Computational Biology) from UC Berkeley in 2014 and joined the O’Connell Lab in 2015. He is now a second-year PhD student focused on understanding the failure mechanics of fiber-reinforced soft tissues, including the effects of tissue degeneration and accumulated damage. Ben was funded by the Keith L. Markolf – Robert F. Steidel Jr. Graduate Fellowship, and hopes that his research will help prevent avoidable spinal injuries and better inform tissue repair strategies. In his free time, Ben enjoys rock climbing and automotive mechanics.

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Minhao Zhou – Minhao is a second year PhD student in Berkeley Biomechanics Laboratory and has been working in the lab since August 2015. Minhao’s current research focuses on the computational tissue-level failure mechanics of the annulus fibrosus in the intervertebral disc. Minhao has been teaching for almost a year and finds teaching time consuming but extremely rewarding. Minhao originally comes from Suzhou, China. He got both his B.S. and M.S. in 2016 and 2017 in mechanical engineering from Berkeley and has been here for almost 6 years. Pugs are Minhao’s spiritual animal.


Gabriel Lopez – Gabriel graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a BS in Mechanical Engineering with a research focus in biomedical applications. His current research is focused on using hydrogels as biomaterials for tissue engineering. Gabriel is a recipient of the Berkeley College of Engineering Fellowship Fellowship (2016-2017) and the NSF Graduate Fellow Award (2017-2020).

Emily Lindberg – Emily graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering and with a research focus in articular cartilage repair. She is an MS/ PhD student with an interest in tissue mechanics.

Master’s Students

Undergraduate Students

Christina Laura Borroni-Bird Christina is a fourth year undergraduate mechanical engineering student from Detroit, Michigan. She will be working with Minhao Zhou and is excited to help further research into the field of tissue mechanics after taking a couple undergraduate courses on the subject. She will use skills learned during finite element analysis co-op at Tesla in 2017 and hopes to learn much more.


Wan Fung Chui – Wan Fung is a junior in Computer Science and has been working in the lab since May 2015. Wan Fung works with Megan Pendleton on understand the effect of space flight and radiation on spine biomechanics. gmail_new


Yeabsra Habtegebriel – Yeabsra is a senior in Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley in 2016. She is working with Bo Yang to understand soft tissue mechanics using finite element modeling in FEBio.


Yu Ma – Yu is a freshman in Applied Math at UC Berkeley. She is working with Yeabsra Habtegebriel and Bo Yang on finite element modeling of the intervertebral disc. gmail_new


Albert Wang – Albert is a sophomore majoring in Bioengineering, and has recently joined the lab. He works under Megan and Shannon researching how bone material properties are affected by ionizing radiation. Outside of research, he is a member of the marching band, and enjoys playing baseball or watching movies.

Undergraduate Independent Study – PCA Device

Patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) devices are used to deliver pain relief to patients in the hospital. The goal of this independent project is to modify the device to evaluate alternatives to chemical pain relief. The current team includes juniors and seniors from the Departments of Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (Jiayang Cao, Tatiana Jansen, Joyce Huang, and Rohan Konnur).

Version 2Tatiana Jansen – Tatiana is a junior in Bioengineering at UC Berkeley. She is focusing on medical devices and has a background in biotechnology.gmail_new

rohankonnur_smRohan Konnur – Rohan is a sophomore majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and has been working on this project since Fall 2016.

Lab Alumni

Arun Bahl – Position after Lab: Engineering Consultant at Accenture in San Francisco, CA.
Anne Zeng – Position after Lab:

Naomi Kibrya – Position after Lab: Engineer at Stryker in Dallas, TX.

Semih Bezci – Position after Lab: Graduate school; Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley.
Joseph Felipe – Position after Lab: Mechanical Engineer at Velo3D in Campbell, CA.
João Paulo Innocente de Souza-Position after Lab: Engineering student in Brazil
Gerald Santos – Position after Lab: Mechanical Engineer at Gilead Sciences, San Dimas, CA.

Grant Alpert-Waldman – Position after Lab: Mechanical Engineering in CA.
Andrew Burg – Position after Lab: Practicing engineer in Switzerland.
Zhengtang Yang – Position after Lab: Mechanical Engineering in CA.
David Zarrin – Position after Lab: Gap year for internships in CA.