Student Associates 2015-16

Pavalika Sri Adhibatla

Pravalika Sri Adhibatla is a graduate student in MSIS program at the University of Utah. She completed an Electrical Engineering degree from Hyderabad, India. Pravalika started her career working on development enterprise solutions using SAP ABAP technologies. She has always had an inclination to work as a solution consultant for organizations using technology to resolve various  business challenges. In future, Pravalika wishes to setup a non-profit organization that is focused on providing affordable education through a virtual platform.

Cole Anderson

Cole Anderson is currently a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Oncological Sciences at the University of Utah.  His thesis is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of iron homeostasis in relation to diabetes and the innate immune response.  Throughout his thesis work, Cole has been involved in educational outreach programs at the Salt Center for Science Education and has interned at the University’s Technology and Venture Commercialization Office. Before coming to Utah, Cole received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Sam Houston State University.  In his spare time, Cole enjoys outdoor pursuits that include competitive mountain bike racing and backcountry skiing.

Jordan Baker

Jordan Baker received his undergraduate degree in International Studies with minors in Business and Japanese from the University of Utah in 2009, and has returned to Utah to pursue an MBA at the David Eccles School of Business. Shortly after graduating in 2009, Jordan relocated to Japan where he gained approximately six years of managerial experience in the areas of human resources, communications, and operations. In his most recent position, he was appointed as the Business Communications Manager at New Holland HFT Japan, Inc., a retailer of agricultural machinery. He acted as a point of contact for overseas partners, coordinated logistical arrangements for shipments, led teams in introducing new products into the Japan market, and sat on a panel of managers to oversee daily business operations. Aside from work and school, Jordan enjoys spending time with his family, watching sumo, and cheering on the Utah football and basketball programs.

Dhiman Bhattacharyya

Dhiman received his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from India in 2009 and following graduation, he joined a national research lab (CSIR – Institute of Minerals & Materials Technology) as a Scientist fellow. In Spring 2011, Dhiman joined the Metallurgical Engineering department at the University of Utah for graduate school. Working towards his MS, Dhiman’s research was focused on the study of aurodicyanide adsorption and desorption from activated carbon and the fundamental surface chemistry studies of hydrophobic and hydrophilic graphitic surfaces in relation to gold adsorption. Dhiman was the recipient of the 2012 IPMI Outstanding Student Award and scholarship in recognition of his research contributions. After completing his MS, Dhiman joined the PhD program within the same department in Fall 2013. His current research interests involve the fabrication of nanoarchitectured metal oxide semiconductor based sensors for detection of disease biomarkers. These sensing devices have immense commercialization potential and Dhiman believes that the LNVD program will provide a perfect platform to hone his entrepreneurial skills. Recently, Dhiman has received the Cooper Hansen graduate fellowship to pursue his doctoral research. Dhiman is also an International Student Ambassador, chair of the department graduate SAC, vice-chair of the UoU Material Advantage student chapter, and actively involved in departmental outreach activities promoting STEM education.

Belema Bella Boyle

Belema Bella Boyle’s love for challenging questions led her to a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. In 2013, Bella began the PhD program at the University of Utah. More fascinated by the commercialization of new technology than research, she opted for a MBA/ MSE with an emphasis in strategy. She seeks out learning experiences, which led her to the Lassonde Center. She is passionate about using her analytical background to create customer-centric strategies. During her spare time, she can be found indulging in nerdy hobbies including video games, comic books, and creating elaborate costumes.

Lance Brown

Lance is a second year MBA student with hopes to land a career in marketing and to one day start his own business. Born and raised in Hyrum, Utah, he has a background in digital and social media marketing, and in his free time when he’s not with his wife and two girls, he enjoys being active with activities such as basketball, golf, and skiing, keeping up date with technology trends, and is a self-proclaimed sports nut on the side.

Henis Çarçani

Henis Çarçani graduated from Arizona State University with a B.S. in Biochemistry. Before going back to school, Henis was managing a start-up dental laboratory. Then, he worked as the head of marketing at a home health company. Henis is currently pursuing a Masters of Business Administration and Masters of Healthcare Administration at the David Eccles School of Business.

Shelby Cate

Shelby Cate graduated from Gonzaga University with a BS in Bioengineering and is pursuing joint Masters degrees in Bioengineering (MS) and Business Administration (MBA). Most recently Shelby was at BloodWorks Northwest Research Institute in Seattle, Washington, where she developed diagnostic tests using mass spectrometry for use in clinical trials for patients with blood disorders. Upon graduation she hopes to combine her experiences in business and science to bring new biotechnologies to market.

Sivakumar Chellamuthu

Sivakumar Chellamuthu is an independent app developer, who is pursuing his first year MSIS at the David Eccles School of Business. He received a Bachelor’s in Electrical and Electronics from Anna University and started his career as a Windows application developer for Tata Consultancy Services. After developing profitable apps in part-time, he resigned his job to become a full-time app developer. Siva now has three years of experience in design, development and marketing of mobile applications. He is currently teaching himself cross platform application development and looking forward to innovate in the platform of mobile applications. Apart from work, he is a technology speaker and social worker who co-founded Spark User Group ( to help students learn technology, social cause and nurture new ideas. He also enjoys photography, traveling, camping, running and exploring new technologies.

Prema Chruthoti

Prema Chruthoti is currently training to be a teacher. She is looking forward to learning new skills to translate innovative teaching methods and ideas into classrooms around the world. She is passionate about empowering young students with self-confidence to follow their own dreams to bring social change in the society. She graduated from business studies in India, and later realized that she had a natural inclination and passion towards teaching. As a teacher, she believes she can influence the next generation to become inventors, scientists and business leaders. She also believes that conventional teaching skills and entrepreneurial skills are needed to bring much needed improvements to our educational system. In her leisure time, she likes to watch movies, spend time with her three year old daughter, and bake cakes.

Jourdan Colter

Jourdan Colter is an MS candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Her thesis is in collaboration with industry partner, Jade Therapeutics, Inc. in helping to optimize the design of a hydrogel-based ocular bandage. Jourdan received her BS in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Utah in 2014, where she emphasized in biomechanical engineering. As an undergraduate, she published her research while working in the Developmental Head Injury Biomechanics Lab. Additionally, she was selected as a participant for the Department of Bioengineering’s summer bioImmersion program, where she was immersed in the clinical environment and trained to evaluate real-world clinical needs. She continued to work another two summers with bioImmersion as a program research assistant and facilitator. Jourdan is excited to work as a Lassonde New Venture Development Associate and expand her knowledge in technology innovation.

Ryan Critchfield

Ryan Critchfield is addicted to creation. For him, nothing is more satisfying than starting with raw materials, and then applying intelligence and skill, to create something of value. This passion carried him through his IT career, where he designed hardware and software systems that helped businesses become more profitable. Now, as a first year MBA student, he gets to build every day. He is honest and capable in all that he does and his colleagues and former employers have an immense amount of trust for him. He still consults with nearly all of them now, years after leaving, because they have learned to trust in his knowledge and strategies. He is looking forward to learning in the Lassonde program by utilizing his deep technical knowledge in tandem with what he is learning as an MBA student to build innovative products and services.

Michael Eixenberger

Michael Eixenberger is a second year law student at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. Prior to entering law school, Michael graduated summa cum laude from the University of Utah with Bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering. In the summer of 2015, Michael had the opportunity to work at a large law firm where he focused on intellectual property law. Michael has participated in several business startups, and enjoys the nexus between business, law and technology.

Nathan Firouzi

Nathan Firouzi is a second year law student at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law.  His legal interests are tax law and business law.  After his first year of law school, he interned with Utah Legal Services, where he drafted appeals for disabled social security seekers. Prior to attending law school, Nathan worked in forensic accounting constructing business valuations and cash tracings.  He received a bachelor’s degree in accounting and in corporate finance from Brigham Young University – Hawaii.  Nathan’s non legal interests include the beach, motorcycles, movies, and hiking.

Ben Fogg

Ben Fogg graduated from the University of Utah with a BS in Exercise Physiology, and a minor in Chemistry. Ben researched Protein Engineering with the HHMI Capecchi Laboratory, Raman Spectroscopy with the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and has done multiple clinical studies with the Emergency Department. Ben has a special interest in Global Health and served as a member of the Utah Hospital Task Force on a medical mission to Haiti following the earthquake in 2010.Ben’s extensive operating room experience and his exposure to patient care has created a passion for medicine. In 2013, Ben commenced medical school and is currently supplementing his medical education with a Master’s Degree in Bioengineering; the BioInnovate tract provides comprehensive education in biomedical device design and development.He is the student director of the 2015-16 Bench-to-Bedside medical device competition.As a student associate with the Lassonde New Venture Development, he’s excited to apply his medical and professional experience to innovate and commercialize new products. Away from school, Ben enjoys the outdoors; skiing, biking, hiking, fishing, and especially loves spending time with his family.

Mackenzie Hales

Mackenzie is a first year MBA student originally hailing from Texas. She attended Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA and majored in Politics & Environmental Studies. Her diverse background includes work across many professional sectors: international development in Guatemala, environmental regulatory compliance in Minnesota, and environmental and water resources consulting in Washington D.C. Since interpreting for surgical teams in Guatemala and seeing how simple medical technologies can vastly improve peoples’ lives and surgical outcomes, she has become interested in the medical device field and is excited to leverage her professional and academic experience to help commercialize new technologies. In her spare time, she enjoys all things outdoors, and is excited to take advantage of all the outdoor recreation opportunities Utah has to offer.

Luke Harewood

Luke Harewood is a third year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student at the University of Utah’s College of Health. He received a Bachelor of Education in Kinesiology Applied Exercise Science at the University of Arkansas in 2012 before entering the DPT program in 2013. During his time at the University of Utah Luke has worked at the University Rehab and Wellness clinic, aiding in physical therapy reassessments of individuals with neurological disorders, specifically Parkinson’s disease. He regularly volunteers at the Midvale Pro Bono clinic for Physical Therapy and the U-Fit program designed for children and youth with special needs at the University campus.

Scott Hoopes

Scott Hoopes graduated from Dixie State University with a BS in Business Administration with an Emphasis in Visual Technologies. Scott is currently a first year MBA student at the University of Utah and is looking to emphasize in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Scott’s career aspirations are to work for a large tech company or startup. Scott has been apart of multiple startups ranging from a business with a social mission that provided school uniforms to over 200 children in Kenya and Cambodia to mobile apps that were sold nationally. Scott’s background is in idea generation, web development, online marketing strategies, solving business and marketing problems with technology. Scott is originally from St. George, UT. He enjoys traveling, sports, being outdoors and spending time with his family.

Lauren Howells

Lauren Howells is a JD/MBA candidate at the University of Utah. After completing her first year at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, Lauren split her time interning with Utah Legal Services, providing legal guidance to victims of domestic violence, and Jones Waldo, focusing on family law, corporate law. She was a judicial intern on the Third District Court, and Research Assistant to Law Professor Michael Teter drafting a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court. She was the first recipient of the Legislative Analyst Fellowship from the College of Law where she received substantial experience researching and drafting proposed legislation. Currently, she is the Karen Shepherd Fellow for Alliance for a Better Utah. In addition to her academic endeavors, Lauren serves on the Student Bar Association, Women’s Law Caucus and is Articles Editor for the Utah Law Review.

Stuart Jardine

Stuart Jardine is an undergraduate Senior at the University of Utah studying Entrepreneurship & Strategy. Stuart has been very involved on campus participating in many different clubs and student organizations. He also is working as a research assistant to Mark Parker, an associate dean at the business school. Over the summer he completed an internship with the Sorenson Center for Discovery and Innovation, where he worked on a consulting project for a local company providing market research and a strategic plan for a new innovative product. Earlier this year he also started his first company with a sustainable focus, Aurora Sunglasses, a company that sells wooden sunglasses that float. When not at school or work, he enjoys getting outdoors and is passionate about skiing and climbing.

Jefferey Knipper

Jeff Knipper graduated from John Carroll University in 2007 with a B.A in Philosophy and a concentration in economics. Upon graduation he was offered a marketing position with Anheuser Busch in Boston, MA. Jeff worked in various marketing and sales roles until he found his passion in distribution operations. He was relocated to the New York wholesaler as a warehouse supervisor in 2010. He was later asked to manage the facilities recycling operation. In 2012 Jeff was tasked with consulting and assisting in the company’s newest wholesaler acquisition in Oklahoma City, OK. He was later offered a full time position there and managed a 2 million case satellite warehouse in Perry, OK.

Benjamin Lopez

Ben Lopez graduated from the University of Utah with a BS in Chemistry. After graduation he worked and is still in the pharmaceutical industry where he does research and reverse-engineer patent pharmaceutical products for generic development.Benis a native Guatemalan and moved to the US when he was 15 years old. He knows 3 different languages including Spanish, English and Samoan.Benloves to learn about businesses, how they work and how to improve them. He started a landscaping business to pay his way through his undergraduate degree, now he is currently enrolled in the University of Utah doing a professional MBA. He is married and loves to spend time with his wife.

Ilsy Melendez

Ilsy Melendez is a native of Guatemala and raised in Los Angeles. Currently, Ilsy is third-year JD candidate at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. She received BA degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from Claremont McKenna College in 2011. Most recently, Ilsy was awarded second best brief in the Traynor Moot Court Competition, co-authored a brief for submission to the Ninth Circuit, and interned for Judge Evelyn Furse in the Tenth Circuit Court. In her spare time, Ilsy enjoys golfing, traveling with friends and family, and watching foreign films. She is excited to participate in the Lassonde Institute and learn from her fel

Samer Sarfaraz Merchant

Samer Merchant graduate with his B.E in electrical engineering from University of Mumbai, India in 2008 and a M.E. in electrical engineering from the University of Utah in 2010. He is currently a PhD student in the bio-engineering program at the University of Utah. His research is in the field of medical imaging and is focused on developing mathematical models of cardiac microstructure to study cardiac pathologies and aid in medical diagnostics. Since 2010, Samer has also been working as a facility manager in the Small Animal Imaging Facility at the University of Utah. His work involves using CAT as well as MRI scanners to image small animals as well as fossils. Samer eventually wants to be able to make inexpensive medical devices feasible for third world countries including his native country, India.low student associates and looks forward to exploring the technology start-up arena and contributing to the commercialization of new innovations.

Brian Morgan

Brian Morgan graduated with a degree in Business Management from Utah Valley University in 2012. While in school he worked in wireless communication sales followed by roles in retention and customer support roles for a local start-up SaaS company. Brian is currently in his third year of a joint JD/ MBA degree. He fosters an entrepreneurial spirit and is excited to use his background experience and education in this capacity.

Martha Munezhi

Martha Munezhi is a fifth year Ph.D. candidate in Sociology who is currently researching the relationship between immigrant health outcomes and occupation in the U.S. Before coming to the University of Utah, she obtained a Bachelor’s in Economics and a Master’s in Population Studies from the University of Zimbabwe. Martha works as a graduate teaching assistant in the department of Sociology. She is also a PRB Policy Communication Fellow and a Fulbright Fellow. Prior to her doctoral studies, Martha worked in various positions in nongovernmental and research organizations focusing on HIV prevention and cancer awareness in women where she developed a deep passion for population and health issues. She is excited to explore the interaction of population and health issues with entrepreneurship in the New Venture Development program.

Yarema Nagadzhyna

Yarema Nagadzhyna is a second year MBA student in the David Eccles School of Business. He received a dual degree in Biology and Clinical Laboratory Science from the Loyola University Chicago in 2012. Currently, he is working as a Clinical Product Surveillance Specialist at BioFire Diagnostics. As a Student Associate within the Lassonde New Venture Development Center, he is looking forward to gaining hands-on experience in product commercialization, especially the business strategy and marketing aspects. Originally from Ukraine, Yarema enjoys traveling and interacting with people from different cultures. When not working or in school, he loves to play soccer, hike, and ski.

Arielle Newman

Arielle Badger Newman is a third year PhD student in political science emphasizing in comparative political economy. Arielle has a BS in International Relations from Brigham Young University and a MS in International Affairs and Global Enterprise from the University of Utah. Arielle has a strong interest in how the private entrepreneur affects the institutional stability of his/her community and researches entrepreneurship in the informal economy. Arielle also has an interest in economic development and public health. When taking a break from her classwork, Arielle enjoys ballroom dance with her husband and reading “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” repeatedly with her infant son.

Divya Pawar

Divya graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering in Dec 2012. She is currently a 3rd year PhD student in Bioengineering in the Harold K. Dunn Orthopaedic Research Lab under the guidance of Dr. Kent Bachus. Divya’s research is focused on the development and optimization of therapies for reducing skin related complications in the case of new implant systems for the direct skeletal attachment of prosthetic limbs. Her ultimate desire is to pursue wildlife conservation and inspire people to value nature through education and action. In her spare time, Divya enjoys hiking, travelling and being outdoors.

Naman Rajpal

Naman Rajpal wants to live in a world where immersiveculture brings clarity to ideas and provides strategic insight to building an entrepreneurial mind. Currently, he is focusing his study in the field of Big Data and Analytics as an aspiring Information Systems graduate at the David Eccles School of Business. He is thrilled to work in the Lassonde New Venture Development Center and hopes to gain insight into all that goes on around commercializing an idea – right from the eureka moment to a successful launch of the company.

Xan Ricketts

Xan Ricketts graduated from the UofU in 2014 with an Accounting B.S. During his degree, he played on the Men’s Basketball Team under Coach Krystkowiak. Heading straight into his MBA program at the UofU, he has been involved in many extracurricular activities, with the Entrepreneur Club being one of his favorites. This past summer Xan worked at Macy’s, Inc. as a Store Management Intern. His interests include entrepreneurship, retail, fashion, and finance. He thoroughly enjoys reading online articles and blogging. His blog can be found at Connect with him at

Tab Robbins

Tab Robbins is an MBA candidate and MS in Bioengineering. Medical device product development and commercialization have defined his educational and professional experience. Recently, at Bard Access Systems Inc. he supported product development, promotion, and positioning of their flagship PICC product line. Additionally, he has aggressively pursued 10 new and innovative medical device solutions in both scholastic and employment settings. Through these projects he has launched 2 products, became inventor on 5 patents, and co-founded a Med-Tech startup. He is anticipating a productive year of developing university technologies with Lassonde New Venture Development associates.

Marisa Smith

Marisa Smith is from the Washington, D.C. area and graduated from Brigham Young University in 2008 with a degree in Sound Recording Technology. Upon graduation, she spent several years traveling around the country as a sound mixer/boom operator working on several television and film productions, including the Academy Award nominated film 127 Hours. Marisa is currently a 2nd year MBA and recently completed her internship in Manhattan. She is passionate about learning and thrilled to be a part of the Lassonde Center for a second time. In her spare time, she enjoys photography, playing the piano, camping, and spending time with her husband.

Steven Swan

Steven Swan attended Brigham Young University where he graduated in Mechanical Engineering. For his senior project, Steven helped develop calibration methods for General Electric’s deep-sea proximity probes. During school, Steven also worked as a full-time student engineer on product development teams at US Synthetic, a Shingo Prize manufacturing company, specializing in synthetic diamond cutters used around the world by oil and gas drilling companies. He was a law clerk for a prominent IP firm this past summer and is currently a second year law student at the University of Utah pursuing Patent Law. Steven is a registered patent agent.

Samual Thomas

Samuel Thomas is a 4th year medical student at the University of Utah School of Medicine. After his third year of medical school, he had the chance to obtain a Masters degree in Bio-Engineering and found the experience invaluable in honing his ability to understand the process of medical device innovation. This year involved starting two different companies and securing multiple provisional patents. Finding unique solutions to problems and working closely with an interdisciplinary team has been a particular joy of his. Over this last year, he had the great opportunity to participate in the Lassonde New Venture Development Center and is returning to the program for another year as a Student Director in the program. He is motivated by a deep desire to have a greater impact through meaningful research and innovation. Aside from school and research, Sam enjoys playing water polo, skiing and get outdoors whenever he can.

Josh Thompson

Josh Thompson completed his undergrad at BYU Provo in French Studies. During his last year of school he worked for Qualtrics consulting Fortune 500 and other companies in French and English to improve their market research practices. After graduating, he was recruited by Marriott International to become one of the first members of their new Leadership Development Program, and moved to St. Louis, Missouri. While with Marriott, Josh managed a team of 120 individuals as a Room Operations Manager. He also innovated and directed all customer insights efforts for his hotel. Josh is now pursuing his MBA emphasizing in marketing at the University of Utah with the hope of working in Brand Management at a Consumer Products company when he finishes. When he’s not working or in school, Josh enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons, reading, running, and rock climbing.

Tony Umpierre

Tony Umpierre is a fourth-year PhD student in the Neuroscience Program at the University of Utah. Tony has been actively involved in symposia and event planning and serves as student representative to the Neuroscience Program directorate. His dissertation research investigates the role of brain support cells in the epilepsy development process. Tony grew up in Cumberland, Maryland and moved to Salt Lake City to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Westminster College. His interest in business innovation stems from a desire to develop and commercialize genetic therapies to combat disease. Outside of research, Tony enjoys photography, movies, hiking, road biking, and Utes football.

Carlos Vargas

Carlos Vargas graduated as Valedictorian of his high school in San Diego, CA in 2008. He studied Economics at Stanford University and graduated in 2012. After graduating from Stanford, he worked for 3 years developing quantitative investment models for an equity investment firm. He is currently in his first year as an MBA candidate at the David Eccles School of Business. He wants to use his work history and entrepreneurial spirit to develop business ideas that help people manage their money and become more financially stable.

Bharath Velagapudi

Bharath Velagapudi graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering in May 2012. Currently, he is a fourth year PhD student in the Department of Bioengineering under the mentorship of Dr. Patrick Tresco. Bharath’s research is focused on elucidating details about the foreign body response surrounding central nervous system implants and improving their integration. In his spare time, Bharath enjoys hiking, biking, ultimate frisbee and anything outdoors.

Bryan Wagner

Bryan Wagner spent the last two years building an online practice teaching program at one of the world’s largest language-learning centers. His team recruited and trained over 2500 volunteers in 50 countries. Prior to that project, he coordinated the remote training and support of 350 international offices, was Customer Service Manager at an auto repair facility, research intern with a European Parliament think tank in Brussels, and a missionary in Chile. He received his BA in International Relations from Brigham Young University in 2012 and is currently an MBA candidate focusing on Finance and General Management. He and his wife, Kara, are new parents and spend as much time as possible in the outdoors.

Jason Winkel

Jason Winkel graduated from Brigham Young University – Idaho in 2006 with a BS in Business Management specializing in Marketing. After graduating he joined ad agency Graham Advertising as a media buyer. There he developed, planned, and executed media campaigns, increased added-value placement by 50%, and forged low-cost partnerships for clients with local businesses. In 2009, Jason joined Blakely + Company as a Media Director where he revamped buying, billing, IT, and email systems and earned new business by optimizing potential client media budgets 15%. In the six years Jason served as Media Director and Account Manager, the agency tripled annual revenues to over $6 million and grew from four employees to fifteen.