Our Team

Dr. Brittany Hartwell, PI

Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Member, Center for Immunology

University of Minnesota

Postdoc, Irvine Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2017-2021

PhD, Biomolecular Engineering, University of Kansas, 2016

BS, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University, 2011


Dr. Brittany Hartwell is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. Her lab’s research in immunoengineering combines perspectives from biomolecular engineering, drug delivery, and immunology to develop molecular platforms that can target specific cells and tissues of the immune system to direct the response, with a particular focus on ‘tuning' immunity through the mucosa. This work has broad applications ranging from the development of antigen-specific immunotherapies that induce immune tolerance against autoimmune diseases to development of targeted vaccines that activate immune protection against infectious diseases and cancer. 

Before starting at the University of Minnesota in Fall 2021, Dr. Hartwell was a postdoc with Darrell Irvine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she worked on developing targeted mucosal vaccines against HIV and SARS-CoV-2 in mice and nonhuman primates. As a postdoc, she was affiliated with the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard. Dr. Hartwell obtained her PhD in biomolecular engineering with Cory Berkland at the University of Kansas as a Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellow. Her doctoral research focused on developing an antigen-specific immunotherapy to treat multiple sclerosis while determining cellular and molecular mechanisms of tolerance. Prior to KU, Dr. Hartwell received her B.S. in chemical and biological engineering from Iowa State University. At Iowa State, she was also involved in NCAA D1 athletics as a four-year letterwinner in cross country and track, and music as a violist in the Iowa State symphony orchestra and numerous chamber groups. Outside of work, Dr. Hartwell enjoys distance running, hiking, biking, and (almost) anything outdoors -- which these days typically entails exploring local playgrounds, parks, trails, and lakes with her husband and two kids.


We're hiring! 

Email bhartwel@umn.edu with your CV, three references, and a summary of your research interests if you're interested in joining our team.

Graduate Students

Daman Yadav

PhD student

Education: B.S. in Biomedical Engineering, NIT Rourkela, 2021 

Hometown: Delhi, India

Research interests: Mucosal adjuvants, intranasal vaccine delivery, cancer immunotherapy

Project topic: Developing an intranasal vaccine platform with enhanced FcRn-mediated transmucosal uptake for broad immune protection.

Other interests: Outside the lab, I enjoy playing soccer and hanging out with friends.

Madison Seefeld

PhD student

Education: B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2022

Hometown: Omaha, NE

Research interests: Intranasal vaccine development, infectious diseases, cancer immunotherapy

Project topic: Developing albumin-hitchhiking intranasal vaccines for enhanced uptake and protection against infectious diseases like influenza.

Other Interests: Outside of the lab I enjoy spending time with friends and family, keeping up with Husker sports, reading a good thriller and occasionally cooking/baking.

Brandon Hu

PhD student

Education: B.S.E. Biomedical Engineering, University of Iowa, 2022

Hometown: Iowa City, Iowa

Research interests: Mucosal homing, targeted delivery, microbiota, and imaging.

Project topic: Exploring how the context of mucosal vaccine delivery impacts immune response by varying route of administration, costimulatory cues, and microbial backdrop.

Other interests: Outside of the lab I enjoy cooking, keeping houseplants, playing video games, and going to museums, zoos, and aquariums.

Erin Templeton

PhD student

Education: B.S. Bioengineering, Washington State University (Go Cougs!) 2022

Hometown: Castle Rock, CO

Research interests: Protein engineering, autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, gut microbiome

Project topic: Developing a stability range of mucosal-targeted immunotherapies to study the optimal delivery kinetics to induce tolerance against autoimmunity.

Other interests: Outside of the lab I enjoy hiking, camping, cooking, listening to music, watching Coug games, and hanging out with friends.

Justin Lehtinen

Masters student

Education: B.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Kansas, 2022

Hometown: Overland Park, KS

Research interests: I am currently interested in the development of immunomodulatory tools, such as amphiphilic vaccine carriers, to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of vaccination against pathogens and as a potential treatment for autoimmune disease. Within this scope, I would like to explore and optimize the use of an amphiphilic antigen carrier by modifying its molecular properties coupled with the method of adjuvant delivery. Furthermore, I am interested in investigating the mechanism behind the transport of the amphiphilic-antigen complex from epithelial cells to germinal centers so that we can identify and target the key steps in the process for a more robust vaccine response.   

Project topic: Imaging vaccine uptake across the mucosa.

Other interests: When I’m not studying or working in the lab, I love to do long-distance cycling and enjoy the occasional chance to explore and practice my skills as a photographer. I love to be outdoors whether it be at a park, on a hike, or camping with friends.

Noah Sinclair

PhD student 

(coadvised with Paolo Provenzano)

Education: B.S.E. Biomedical Engineering, University of Iowa (Go Hawks!), 2023

Hometown: Ames, IA

Research interests: Cancer immunotherapies (immune checkpoint inhibitors, cancer vaccines), immune activation in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), PDAC biology

Project topic: Investigating the role of immunotherapies in tertiary lymphoid structure formation and B cell activation for treating pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.  

Other interests: I am a big fan of board/card games (current favorite: Skull King), playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends, and fantasy football. I also enjoy reading, hiking, and baking. 

Undergraduate Students

Kathryn Jans


Education: Senior studying Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Genetics

Hometown: St. Bonifacius, MN 

Research interests: Immunology, cell and tissue engineering

Other interests: Playing volleyball and going hiking!

Kyra Van Batavia


Education: Bachelors of Biomedical Engineering, Expected May 2024

Hometown: Chelsea, Michigan

Research interests: Increasing specificity in immunotherapy and identifying specific targets for new drug designs. Personalization of immunotherapies and modulation and control of the immune system.

Other interests: Hiking and spending time in nature, dogs, embroidery, and playing tennis.

Adam Boeckermann


Education: 4th year undergraduate pursuing a major in Biomedical Engineering and minor in Chemistry 

Hometown: Elk River, MN

Research interests: Exploring strategies to combine protein engineering technologies from the Hackel lab with novel mucosal delivery platforms in the Hartwell lab to develop targeted mucosal vaccines.

Other interests: I love to run, hike, bike... pretty much anything outside!

Téa Wagner


Education: Junior studying Human Physiology

Hometown: Eagan, MN

Research interests: Immunology and the development and design of mucosal vaccines that induce a specific and effective immune response. 

Other interests: I enjoy taking care of my 20+ plants, teaching archery, and spending time with friends. 

Nicole Schottler


Education: Sophomore studying biomedical engineering on a pre-medicine track

Hometown: De Soto, Kansas

Research interests: Exploring ways to better target the mucosal immune system to increase efficacy of vaccines.  

Other interests: I enjoy training for and competing in triathlons, watching sports (especially football when the Chiefs are playing), and traveling. 

Ava Schaeffel


Education: Second year studying Biomedical Engineering, expected B.S. May 2025

Hometown: Minnetonka, Minnesota

Research interests: Immunology and vaccine development, drug delivery, cell engineering.

Other interests: I enjoy spending time outdoors, going to farmers markets, teaching Irish dance, and occasionally reading for fun.

Cole Haraf


Education: Junior studying Chemical Engineering and pursuing a minor in Chemistry and Business Administration.

Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky

Research Interests: Diving deeper into the ideas of Drug Delivery and finding better methods to increase therapeutic efficacy by using Drug Delivery, Immunology, and Cell and Tissue Engineering.

Other Interests: I love playing spike ball and video games with friends. You'll always find me watching something hockey or Michigan-related. I also love spending time with my four dogs Bear, Merida, Simba, and Daisy. 


Deepthi Chowbene

M.S. Biomedical Engineering, 2023

Education: B.S. in Electronics and Communication 

Hometown: Bengaluru, India

Research interests: Mucosal vaccines, adjuvants, immunotherapies for infectious diseases and cancer

Project topic: Formulating copolymer micelles for endosomal delivery of TLR agonist adjuvants

Post Hartwell Lab: Research technician in the lab of Dr. Kathleen Mahoney at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, focusing on cancer immunology.