Visiting Research Students

Alexandros Belavilas Trovas

Alexandros Belavilas Trovas

University of Thessaly, Larissa
Johns Hopkins Unversity, Baltimore, Maryland
Molecular Entomology

Alexandros holds a B.Sc. in Biochemistry & Biotechnology and an M.Sc. in Molecular Diagnostics. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at University of Thessaly, under the supervision of Professor K. Mathiopoulos. He has acquired an expertise in infectious diseases and insect pests through his participation in multiple national and EU-funded research programs in Greece and Spain. His Ph.D. work focuses on the development of novel genomic tools for the management of the Asian tiger (Aedes albopictus) and the yellow fever (Aedes aegypti) mosquitoes. These two invasive species are responsible for the transmission of the major lethal arboviruses (zika, dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, etc.) that have provoked numerous epidemic outbreaks throughout the world.

As a Fulbright fellow, he will spend a 6-month period at the Dimopoulos group of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health where he will investigate the role of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in two major biological systems that are essential for the mosquito’s vectorial capacity: the reproductive and immune systems. During his visit, he will use infrastructure and organisms that lack from his current academic environment while he will broaden his training in higher biosafety level facilities. Through this fellowship, Alexandros will have the opportunity to join the world’s leading public health institute during the COVID-19 era, and to enhance his research and science communication skills by interacting with the experts of the field. Moreover, he will join a multinational environment and he will become an active component of a brilliant scientific community.

Alexandros Chrysovalantis Vamvakas

Alexandros Chrysovalantis Vamvakas

University of Thessaly, Larissa
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Medical Physics/Biomedical Imaging Analytics

Alexandros Vamvakas received his B.Sc. in Physics and M.Sc. in Medical Physics from University of Patras. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the Medical School of University of Thessaly, under the supervision of Associate Professor Ioannis Tsougos, and a Medical Radiation Physicist in training at the General University Hospital of Larissa. His interests focus on the emerging biomedical Imaging Analytics technologies, utilized for enhancing the non-invasive cancer diagnosis, risk stratification and adoption of targeted therapeutic approaches. His Ph.D. research aims at the integration of large-scale imaging information with biological endpoints into Artificial Intelligence (AI) frameworks, for imaging biomarkers discovery and development of clinical decision support systems, for various cancer pathologies. Alexandros is in receipt of a PhD scholarship from the Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation. In 2019-2020, he participated in the EU’s Erasmus+ Traineeship program and worked as a Visiting Research Student at the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences of King’s College London, U.K.

As a Fulbright Fellow, he will be visiting the Center of Biomedical Image Computing and Analytics (Director: Professor Christos Davatzikos) at Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, U.S.A. This award will offer him the opportunity to exploit a high-throughput computing infrastructure and augmented imaging database towards the standardization of clinically specific imaging signatures for brain cancer diagnosis and prognostication. Following his visit to the U.S. he intends to maintain a collaboration between the participating labs and contribute to the establishment of cutting-edge AI technologies in medical practice.

Christos Mytafidis

Christos Mytafidis

University of Ioannina
University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida
Materials Science

Christos Mytafidis is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at the University of Ioannina. He also holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering and a Master’s degree in Materials Engineering from Democritus University of Thrace and the University of Ioannina respectively. His field of research concerns the fabrication of energy-harvesting printed electronic architectures within multifunctional structural composites. More specifically, his present research interests focus on the development, design and characterization of printed thermoelectric generators onto flexible planar and/or fibrous substrates for energy-harvesting applications by developing aqueous dispersions of organic semiconducting inks. Additionally, during his experimental research on photovoltaics, he has developed dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) with platinum and/or organic-based counter electrodes, organic or natural dyes, and experimental investigations on the performance enhancement of advanced crystalline silicon solar cells (passivating contacts for c-Si solar cells). Furthermore, he has studied the performance and integration of PVs within fiber-reinforced polymer-matrix structural composites. The next goal of his research is the employment of these energy-harvesting functionalities into a hybrid photo-thermal device. His visit to the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering at the University of Miami will allow him to expand his research by conducting innovative experimental investigations and characterization of advanced energy-harvesting devices as well as designing sophisticated architectures and methods of enhancing their performances.

Emmanouil Nikoloudakis

Emmanouil Nikoloudakis

University of Crete, Heraklion
University of North Texas, Denton
Bioinorganic  Chemistry

Emmanouil Ν. Nikoloudakis is currently a PhD student in the Laboratory of Bio-Inorganic Chemistry, in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Crete. He got his Bachelor and his Master’s degrees from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Crete in 2017 and 2019, respectively. The field of research he is involved in, concerns the synthesis of chromophores for light harvesting applications inspired by nature. More specifically, his present research interests focus on the development of artificial photosynthetic models capable of photocatalytic H2 production and CO2 reduction utilizing the self-assembly of chromophores.

All the systems that he has investigated so far performed photocatalytic H2 evolution in solution. Moving one step forward, the next goal of his work would be the employment of these systems in a real-world device, namely a water splitting cell. In the laboratory in Greece, they lack the appropriate equipment for fabricating such devices. However, the professor and his research group in the University of North Texas in the United States, have extensive experience in the construction, modification and photoelectrochemical measurements of such systems. The title of the project he wants to pursue in the U.S. is Supramolecular photoanodes for photocatalytic water oxidation to produce hydrogen” and concerns the development of novel hybrid systems based on self-assembled photoanodes that will be used in photocatalytic water splitting devices towards H2 production. This visit through the Fulbright scholarship will provide him the opportunity to broaden his scientific expertise by being trained in the development and modification of photoanodes, as well as the photoelectrochemical measurements of water spliting devices.

The new knowledge, techniques and skills that he will acquire are significant not only for the enrichment and improvement of his PhD results but will also be transmitted to all the group members of his laboratory upon his return in Greece. The successful completion of his PhD is the next target that he wants to accomplish, followed by some years of post-doc research abroad. His long-term goal is an independent academic career in bio-inorganic chemistry and the Fulbright grand will provide an important stepping stone to his curriculum vitae. He hopes that one day he will be an acclaimed researcher leading his own research group (containing plenty post-doc, doctorate, master and undergraduate researchers), which will focus on the investigation of innovative ideas towards the development of highly efficient bio-inspired light harvesting systems.

Maria Kafyra

Maria Kafyra

Harokopio University of Athens
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
Nutrigenetics

Maria Kafyra is a dietitian/nutritionist and a current Ph.D. candidate in Professor Dedoussis’ team at the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics of Harokopio University of Athens, Greece. Having graduated from the same department, she moved on to acquire her Master’s Degree in the field of Human Nutrition from the Department of Oncology and Metabolism and the School of Health and Related Research of the University of Sheffield, England, United Kingdom. Her research focuses on the field on nutrigenetics and the interactions between genetic makeup and lifestyle factors. More specifically, as a Ph.D. candidate, Maria participates in various projects aiming at investigating the relations between specific genetic variants and phenotypes related to lifestyle and environmental characteristics. Maria has participated and presented projects in many a national and international events and conferences, including the 2018 Utrecht Summer School and the 2019 Congress of the International Society of Nutrigenetics and Nutrigenomics, held at Cambridge University. Furthermore, Maria speaks five languages, including English, French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

During her time as a Fulbright Visiting Research Student, Maria will have the honorable opportunity to visit the National Institute on Aging, in Baltimore, Maryland. Her research will focus on the creation of Genetic and Polygenic Risk Scores (GRS and PRSs) for phenotypes such as Body Mass Index, glyceamic and lipid biomarkers, as well as measures of quality of life, in various populations, including Greek and American adult cohorts. This fruitful cooperation and wonderful experience will contribute to the completion of her Ph.D. studies and will allow her to expand her knowledge and research activities, through continuous education, work and training with accomplished professionals from the United States.

Maria Virginia Tsikopoulou

Maria Virginia Tsikopoulou

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
New York University
American Literature

Maria Virginia Tsikopoulou is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of American Literature and Culture at School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh), Greece. Her Ph.D. project delves into 21st century American literary and artistic production approached through the prism of urban environments and spatiality. She holds a B.A. (2015) in English Language and Literature (AUTh) and in 2018 she completed her M.A. studies in English and American Studies (AUTh) during which she was awarded a scholarship of academic excellence by the School of English, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Her research interests revolve around contemporary American fiction, postmodern literature and artistic practices while drawing special attention to the notions of urban space(s), mapping and spatiality.

As a Fulbright Visiting Research Student, she will be visiting the English Department at New York University (NYU), a prominent institution in the fields of literary and urban studies; at the same time, she aims at conducting literary research at Brooklyn Art Library. As a result, this research trip will provide her with the unique opportunity of further investigating urban space(s) through a literary and socio-cultural lens as well as exploring one-of-a-kind material. Upon her return, she aspires to share certain research outcomes emanating from her U.S. visit with the rest of the research community in Greece.

Nikolaos Chatzitzisis

Nikolaos Chatzitzisis

University of Crete, Herakleion
Princeton University, New Jersey
Applied Mathematics

Hi there! My name is Nikolaos Chatzitzisis and I come from Velvento, a small town in the northern part of Greece. I am a Ph.D. candidate in Applied Mathematics at the University of Crete and my academic interests lie in the field of mathematical physics. During my Fulbright Program participation, I would like to focus on two things: scientifically, I wish to introduce myself to the area of general relativity and black holes, and personally, I would be extremely pleased to meet new people and participate in social activities.

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