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Fernando Ontiveros, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator

Trained as an immunologist, Dr. Ontiveros is interested in a multi-disciplinary approach to research that blends his expertise with concepts and tools from the fields of bioengineering, cell biology, microbiology and remote sensing. He joined the faculty at St. John Fisher University in 2012 after postdoctoral fellowships at the U of Massachusetts and the U of Rochester. In 2018 he received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor and in 2019 he and his wife founded PETL Fluidics, a NSF-SBIR funded company that develops STEM education kits. During the summers of 2018, 2019 and 2022 he conducted research at the U of Notre Dame as a visiting and adjunct professor in the College of Engineering. He is president of the Agathon Institute, a non-profit dedicated to liberal arts education and outreach. In 2021 Dr. Ontiveros received the St. John Fisher University Trustees' Award for Distinguished Scholarly Achievement.

Curriculum vitae        Google Scholar        LinkedIn        SJF page

"The central point of a college education is to seek truth and to learn the skills and acquire the virtues necessary to be a lifelong truth-seeker. Open-mindedness, critical thinking, and debate are essential to discovering the truth.... Since no one wants to be or be thought of as a bigot or a crank, the easy, lazy way to proceed is simply by falling into line with campus orthodoxies. Don’t do that. Think for yourself.”

Professor Robert George, Princeton.


Jacob Alberti

Student, 2023-24

Jacob transferred to Fisher in the Spring of 2023 & immediately joined our research group to work on microfluidics. After mastering those techniques he also joined our almost 10 year old Nat Geo project, preparing unknown bacterials specimens for sequencing. He will be graduating in the Spring of 2024 and pursuing a career in bioengineering.


Dominic Tabechian

Student, 2023-24

Dominic joined the lab as a Summer Research Fellow to work on two projects: a) Use of nano membranes in microfluidics devices to detect specific infectious agents (an NSF-funded project) and b) Development of dynamic culture microfluidic devices. He is planning to continue to work on these project during the fall semester. Dom is a member of the soccer team at Fisher and he will be applying to medical school at the end of his career at Fisher. 


Elisabeth Dona

Student, 2021-22

Elisabeth joined the laboratory in her junior year as a biology major. After a short stint with bioprinting, she will be working with PETLs in the Spring and Fall of 2022. A STEM and Honors student, she is interested in pursuing a career in the medical field after college. 


Audrey Collins

Student, 2021

A Biochemistry major, Audrey is a Science Scholar at Fisher and during the Spring of 2021 she has been gearing up for taking over our diagnostics project with U of R. Besides reading up on nano membranes and pre-step filtration methods, Audrey has begun to build chips; She attended a NSF-REU Program in Alabama the summer of 2021 and is now a doctoral student in biochemistry at the University of Delaware.


Michael Bauman

Student, 2021

Michael is a sophomore Biology major that joined the team to work on using microfluidics to build point-of-care sensors. He has begun his project by designing and building PETLs that incorporate paper and has also dabbled with cell culture.  He is currently interested in pursuing a PhD in the biomedical sciences upon graduation. 


Vidhi Joshi

Student, 2021

Vidhi joined the lab in February of 2021 as a Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (NY-CSTEP) student.  She has become an expert PETL microfluidics builder, working across projects carried out in the lab, including our collaboration with U of R building biosensor chips and a project in collaboration with the Chemistry department at Fisher, in which we attempt to build sensing chips using isothermal PCR.  Vidhi plans to enroll in a doctoral program for Pharmacy in NYS this Fall. 


Raunak Al-Rubayie

Student, 2020-23

Raunak is a rising sophomore in the Biology Department and a member of the Honors Program. She is interested in the biomedical sciences, and particularly in the field of tissue engineering and transplantation. Together with Jackie Chouinard she was a awarded a Summer Program scholarship in 2020. She will be working from home writing a manuscript and building maps, using the data collected in the last 7 years for our National Geographic-sponsored project on the remote sensing of bacterial populations. 


Jackie Chouinard

Student, 2020-22

Jackie is a rising junior biology major planning on attending graduate school. She joined the lab in January of 2020 to develop novel PETL microfluidics for cell culture experiments. In a few weeks she became an expert PETL manufacturer, and will be designing and building microfluidic devices as a Summer Scholar. A member of the Tri Beta Biology Honors Society she is also a member of Fisher's tennis team.

Jackie is now pursuing a MS in Parasitology at the U of Albany.


Erik Akselrod

Student, 2019-20

Erik is a junior biology major and a member of the Science Scholars program.  After a short stint with PETLs he is now working on micro- milling of microfluidic devices.  In the recent past he took the opportunity of joining Fisher chemistry professor A. Ignatchenko at Oak Ridge National Lab for a summer research internship. He is now pursuing a MS in medical sciences.


Alex Martinez

Student, 2019

Alex joined the lab in 2019 when he became a Summer Research Fellow funded by SJFC and the University Radiation Medicine foundation.  With this support he traveled to the U of Notre Dame to join Dr. Ontiveros and his collaborators in the Zartman Laboratory.  He worked in two distinct projects involving PETL microfluidics: 1. Use of microfluidics for size-based separation of microparticles, and 2. Design and fabrication of PETL microfluidics to for electrophoresis. He continues to work in the laboratory until his graduation in December of 2019, working on 3D printed adaptors for smart phone imaging and two manuscripts. He is currently completing a doctoral program in podiatry in Iowa. 


Fabio Sacco

Student, 2019

Together with Alex, Fabio joined the lab as a Summer Research Fellow and also traveled to the U of Notre Dame in 2019. His project consisted in the design and fabrication of a "double compressor" device, in which D. melanogaster embryos are contained in micro channels with flexible walls. Pneumatic actuation exerts controlled pressure on the specimens while molecular events (e.g. calcium release) are imaged using confocal microscopy. Fabio graduated in December of 2019 with a degree in Biology and together with Alex he is now enrolled in a doctoral program in podiatry in the midwest.


Nicholas Warters

Student, 2019-21

Nick is a junior in the Biology program and is interested in attending Medical School after Fisher. He is part of the Bacteria Remote Sensing Project, working in collaboration with Dr. Herman in our department. His main task is to determine species identities in our library of more that 1000 bacterial isolates. He spent the Spring of 2020 studying abroad in Costa Rica. Nick also did an enormous amount of work processing the data and finding relationships between species and locations. He is the main drive behind getting ready a manuscript for submission. Nick is now a medical student in North Carolina.


Michael Chase

Student, 2018

Mike graduated in 2019. His project consisted in 3D printing hydrogel scaffolds for the formation of human cartilage in vitro.  He used a bioprinting platform composed of a commercial (and affordable) 3D printer and a syringe pump to produce hydrogel structures housing human chondrocytes.  

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Anthony Emanuel

Student, 2017-18

Coming into St. John Fisher College I was a Biology Major on the Pre-Medical path. My research journey began at St. John Fisher College with Dr. Fernando Ontiveros who coached me on how to be an independent and efficient scientist in the lab. Through grants, I also had the opportunity to do research at the University of Rochester in the Biomedical Engineering Department and travel to different conferences to present my work. Throughout my scientific experience at St. John Fisher, it is in Research and Development that I believe I can make the greatest contribution to society by utilizing my curiosity and creativity as a scientist. I graduated from St. John Fisher College in 2018, an I am now pursing my Ph.D. in Pathology at the University of Rochester in the Cell Biology of Disease program. 

More Former Students

Connor Jensen                    

Mary Pelkowski                  

Mark VanMarter                  

Chelsea Cleveland               

Dylan Cornell                       

Amanda Wahl                       

Kelsey Moore                                    

Daniel Zimmerman                           

Ryan McDowell                                 

Alexandra Argentieri                         

John Crean                                       

Niecy Cameron                                 

Jonathan Pelc                                  

Robert Battaglia                               

Medical School, U of Buffalo

Medical School, Geisinger Commonwealth

Dental School, U of Buffalo

Medical School, U of Buffalo

Bioengineering MS, Cornell University

Pharmacology PhD, U of Rochester

Pharmacology PhD, U of South Carolina

Dental School, Boston College

Infectious Disease PhD, U of Albany

Pharmacy Doctor, U of Maine

Pharmacy Doctor, St. John Fisher College

Naturopathy Doctor, National U of Health Sciences

Pharmacy Doctor, St. John Fisher College

Molecular Biology PhD, Cornell University

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