Principal Investigator


Cecilia Leal, Ph. D., Associate Professor

Racheff Faculty Scholar
Materials Science and Engineering
Carle Illinois College of Medicine
Materials Research Laboratory
Beckman Institute
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Phone: 217-300-1955 | Fax: 217-333-2736
Office: 204 MSEB

Administrative Support

Karyn Traum

Coordinator of Research Programs



Graduate Students

Lining Zheng, E-mail:

Evaluating endosomal release of lipid-nucleic acid constructs


B.S. Cornell University


Nurila Kambar, E-mail:

Studying hybrid materials at the colloidal scale 


B.S. Alfred University


Lily Li, E-mail:

Studying the structural evolution of lipid droplets in liver cancer 


B.S. Arizona State University


Kyungwon Ko, E-mail:

Investigating lipid droplet dynamics in obesity 


M.S. Seoul National University

Image coming soon!

Max Baliga, E-mail:

Investigating the effects of various lipids on lipid nanoparticle gene delivery 


B.S. Northwestern University

Image coming soon!

Bengü Süeda Şengül, E-mail:

Studying polymer-lipid hybrid membranes in various aspects 


B.S. Sabancı University

Undergraduate Students

Michelle Ru Alice Gao
Michelle Ru Alice Gao

Leallies (Leal Group Alumni)

Yookyung Go –
Postdoc at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Jacob Rueben –
Scientist at ReCode Therapeutics
Zhengzhong (Kevin) Tan –
Scientist at Pace Life Science
Marilyn Porras Gomez –
Sr. Research Specialist at Dow Chemical
Sarith Bandara – Engineer at Epic Systems Emily Chen – Research Scientist at Eli Lilly and Company Dylan Steer – Product Development Scientist at Oterra Mijung Kim – ECE Graduate Student at UIUC
Sherry Leung – Research Fellow at CityU, Hong Kong Hojun Kim – Postdoc at KIST, South Korea Minjee Kang – Postdoc at MSE, Cornell

Undergrad Leallies

Priya Bharath Pranav Ghatraju Harpreet Auby Hannah Meiselman
Priya Bharath Prana Ghatraju Harpreet Auby Hannah Meiselman
Ibukun Ajifolokun Julia Dreher-Threlkeld Nathaniel Anderson
Tom Molley Ibukun Ajifolokun –
PhD student at MSE, Stanford University
Julia Dreher-Threlkeld –
PhD student at MSE, Northwestern University
Nathaniel Anderson
Zoe Mihevc
Zoe Mihevc