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Meet Our Graduate Students

photo of BME graduate studen, Emelina Vienneau Joshua Passantino

Ph.D. Candidate, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

"I’m a Vanderbilt engineer because the community and opportunities here are unlike anywhere else. Vanderbilt is the perfect mixing pot for academic social, and professional success. Anchor down!”

I am a chemical and biomolecular engineering PhD student who is passionate about helping to engineer a greener world. I received bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering, biosystems engineering, and Spanish at Auburn University where I was first involved in research utilizing plant biomaterials.

I work in Kane Jenning’s Lab at Vanderbilt as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow. I harness the power of plants by extracting photosynthetic proteins and using them to inexpensively and renewably convert solar energy into electricity and other useful materials. Using plant material for solar energy harvesting can open opportunities for anyone in the world near photosynthetic plants and algae to generate their own energy.

Life at Vandy

Since starting at Vanderbilt, I have been involved in many extracurricular activities and competitions in addition to my research. I am serving as the 2020-2021 president of the Graduate Student Council, serving and advocating for all students under the purview of the Graduate School. Last year I was involved as the vice-president. I also have been heavily involved in the Vanderbilt Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, helping start a new project in Guatemala. I now serve as a graduate advisor for the group. Additionally, I am an active member and previous captain of the Vanderbilt University Fencing Club.

Last year I was selected as a finalist for the 2019 Nashville Emerging Leader Awards hosted by Young Professionals Nashville and was part of the winning team for the 2019 TechVenture Challenge held by the Wond’ry.

For fun

My friend and I found a local music group, Forest Fire Gospel Choir, and we try and make it to all of their local music shows to the point where they recognize us when we attend their shows. Also, I like to play tennis and go on runs around Centennial Park when the weather is nice.

Emelina Vienneau during poster sessionSelected Publications 

1.      Passantino, J. M., Wolfe, K. D., Simon, K. T., Cliffel, D. E., Jennings, G. K. (2020), Photosystem I Enhances the Efficiency of a Natural, Gel-Based Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell, ACS Appl. Bio Mater.

2.     Wolfe K. D., Dervishogullari D., Stachurski C. D., Passantino J. M., Jennings G. K., Cliffel D. E. (2019), Photosystem I Multilayers within Porous Indium Tin Oxide Cathodes Enhance Mediated Electron Transfer, ChemElectroChem.

3.     Wolfe K. D., Dervishogullari D., Passantino J. M., Stachurski C. D., Jennings G. K., Cliffel D. E. (2019), Improving the Stability of Photosystem I-Based Bioelectrodes for Solar Energy Conversion, Current Opinion in Electrochemistry.

Learn more about our Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. programs.