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Meet our Team

CFF group photo


Genevieve Dion, Director

Geneviève Dion, MID

Director, Pennsylvania Fabric Discovery Center
Director, Center for Functional Fabrics
Founder, Shima Seiki Haute Tech Lab
Professor, Design, Westphal College of Media Arts & Design
Affiliate Faculty, Materials Science and Engineering, College of Engineering

Geneviève Dion is an award-winning designer with an extensive background in bespoke clothing and industrial design. Her research focuses on identifying production methods that advance the field of smart fabrics to create textile devices. Textile devices are complex systems that blend modes of communication, diagnostics, and functional technologies into unobtrusive fabrics. Dion founded the Shima Seiki Haute Technology Laboratory, a state of the art knitting facility dedicated to the design and prototyping of smart and technical textiles. Dion works with transdisciplinary teams to integrate electronics into textiles and to research versatile production methods that are mass customizable. Our fabric production knowledge instills materials scientists and engineers with a new sense of how to design new materials to be integrated into the textile fabrication process so that they are compatible with large-scale manufacturing. 

Professor Genevieve Dion: Collaborations that Spark New Industries and Change Lives


PA FDC Staff

Robin Althouse

Robin Althouse

Textile Fabrication Technician

Robin’s passion for knitting led her to transition careers from product development to textile design. While completing her master’s degree, she became interested in the three dimensional properties of knitting and the way design and function can be combined in a single pattern. As a Textile Fabrication Technician, she is excited to contribute to innovative textile development and grow her knowledge of functional fabrics. In her free time, she loves to explore new hobbies, and frequently has a craft project to finish or a new book to read.

Chelsea Amanatides

Chelsea Amanatides, PhD

Senior Research Engineer
National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship Recipient
PhD, Materials Science and Engineering, Drexel University
BS, Sustainable Materials & Design, Drexel University

Chelsea loves to explore how changes in textile architecture affect the resulting properties and behaviors of a fabric. She is passionate about sustainable design and understanding the impact of manufacturing process on our environmental resources.  As a textile fabrication engineer, she programs and manufactures textile structures, experiments with yarn twist effects, and characterizes textile properties. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time outdoors, and a variety of crafts, including hand knitting and house renovations.

Gabriella Deblasio

Gabriella DeBlasio

Textile Fabrication Technician

Gabriella was born and raised in South Jersey and has been living in Philadelphia for five years. In 2020, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Philadelphia University with a Bachelor of Science in Textile Design. Gabriella is highly skilled in weaving and mechanized weft knitting. In her free time, she loves to cook and spend time with her nephews. Gabriella is a trained psychic and a self-proclaimed grill master.

Patrick Doran

Patrick Doran, MBA

Business Development Manager

Patrick’s career has focused on entrepreneurial non-profit management, focusing on increasing earned income to carry out and sustain an organization’s mission. At the PA FDC, he assists the Director in developing the overall strategy of the PA FDC, creating new partnerships and developing new markets. A native of Philadelphia, he recently moved back after 24 years in North Carolina, where he was a business owner and served in leadership roles in several organizations in the field of Community Development Finance, making loan capital available to underserved business owners. He enjoys doing things outdoors and playing piano.

Michael Feldmus

Michael Feldmus, MBA

Innovation Team Manager

Michael loves to knit and create products that push the boundaries of industrial knitting machines. Before joining Drexel, he spent most of his career at a domestic sweater manufacturing company where he managed a facility that had 60 computerized knitting machines and produced thousands of garments per week. He prides himself on being able to work with a team to standardize processes and make operations run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. As an innovation team manager, he is excited to work closely with the entire team and help create cutting edge new textile products and processes. In his free time, he enjoys hiking, biking, playing softball and spending time with his wife, 2 kids and his dog.

Helga Gardner

Helga Gardner

Textile Fabrication Technician

Helga is an interdisciplinary product designer with a bachelor's degree in fashion design and experience in home product design. She has developed creative problem-solving skills through costume design and production, basket design and weaving, and ceramics. She is excited to continue a practice in apparel patternmaking and textile manufacturing. In her free time, she plays in clay-work and cares for house plants.

Christina Kara

Christina Kara

Assistant Director of Operations
BS, Drexel University

Christina has spent the last 15 years working in a variety of roles in both state government and higher education research institutions. As the assistant director of operations, Christina leverages both her considerable research administration experience and enthusiasm for textiles to support advanced textile innovation. In her free time, she enjoys textile crafts (the old-fashioned way), traveling, and playing drums.

Maria Kim

Maria Kim, MDes

Communications Manager

Maria comes from a writing and design background and has worked in higher education for the past 10 years supporting minority STEM students. She has been involved in documentation, graphic design, branding and public relations. As communications manager, she helps pique others’ curiosity as to how functional fabrics can seamlessly fit into our everyday life and how the transdisciplinary approach transforms the research process. She’s a fan of exploring (travel, discovering new corners of Philly), thrifting and spicy food.

Angela Maragni

Angela Maragni

Textile Fabrication Engineer

Angela's background is in technical apparel design and she is passionate about creating products that make life better. Before joining Drexel, she spent most of her career in product development and production, including product lifecycle management system building and maintenance, prototyping (including 3D), user testing, fitting, apparel construction and design for manufacturability. She completed her Masters degree at Drexel in Higher Education Leadership and loves learning and sharing knowledge. As a textile fabrication engineer, she is eager to work with the team to develop innovative and creative solutions using new textile developments, techniques and collaborative knowledge. When not at work, Angela will most likely be founding swimming or hanging out with her german shepherd, John Cash.

Bridget McGrath

Bridget McGrath

Textile Fabrication Engineer

Bridget has a textile engineering background and has worked in industrial textiles and for major global apparel and accessory retailers. Throughout her career, Bridget has recognized that a balance of design, performance and mass production feasibility are imperative for success in the textile industry and has been fortunate enough to contribute to all points of the product life cycle. As a textile fabrication engineer, she is eager to continue to develop innovative solutions for textile processes and products by collaborating with the team at the PA FDC. When not watching the History Channel, Bridget loves cooking and entertaining friends and family with her husband and daughter.

Axel Rimerman

Axel Rimerman

Computational Physics Intern

Axel is a mathematician and physicist who is working to advance our understanding of how textiles stretch, move and change shape. He primarily works with computer simulations and algorithms that make predictions and mathematical models relating to yarn and fabric. Before coming to the Center, Axel primarily worked with more theoretical types of math and physics, such as in his thesis on the Cayley-Dickson Construction. He is excited to be able to apply his skillset to a different type of field. Axel also enjoys working with mathematics outside of work, as well as strategy games and game design, and researching whatever topics he find interesting.

Richard Vallett

Richard Vallett, PhD

Senior Research Engineer
PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Drexel University
MS, Mechanical Engineering, Drexel University
BS, Mechanical Engineering, Drexel University

Richard received his doctoral degree from Drexel University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, advised by both Music Entertainment Technology Lab (MET-lab) and CFF. Richard served as a teaching assistant in the Mechanical Engineering department, courses included statics, dynamics, basic fluid mechanics, control systems, product design and development and freshman engineering design lab. He also advised many undergraduate student groups on various mechanical and electrical design projects. Richard’s primary research interests include robotics, control systems, dynamics, microcontrollers and smart textile fabrication. Richard is currently working on developing textile capacitive touch sensors at CFF for applications towards humanoid robot sensing and wearable technologies.

Echo Wan

Echo Wan

Product Development Designer

Echo is an industrial designer who enjoys multi-disciplinary collaborations with people from different backgrounds. Her expertise is in end-to-end product development, including design research, prototyping, user testing, design for manufacturability and go-to-market strategies. While designing, she not only interacts with the clients, but with real users to make for the best user experience. When she’s not picking up her phone, Echo will most likely be found at a ski resort or an art gallery.

Graduate Students

Lingyi Bi

Lingyi Bi

PhD Candidate, Materials Science and Engineering, co-advised by Yury Gogotsi
MS, Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship, Brown University
BS, Textile Engineering, Donghua University (formerly, China Textile University)

Lingyi is a PhD student working on developing functional fibers, yarns and fabrics by incorporating a new family of two-dimensional materials, MXenes. She is especially interested in exploring scalable processes such as screen printing and dip coating to leverage the versatility and tunability of MXenes for applications like energy storage and gas absorption. She is also passionate about understanding the sciences involved in making functional textiles from nano to macro level. Before coming to Drexel, she had years of textile R&D experience in both international companies and startups, from fashion to sportswear. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, baking, rock climbing, hiking and scuba diving.


Mary Kahle

Mary Kahle

MS, Design Research, Drexel University (2023)
BFA, Apparel Design, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Mary is a first-year Masters student in design research at Drexel and a Graduate Fellow at the Pennsylvania Fabric Discovery Center. She has worked in the fashion industry for various luxury fashion brands as a patternmaker, designer, and consultant for 10 years, as well as running her own womenswear clothing brand (featured in WWD and Vogue), launched in 2014. Mary also has experience with home goods design and fabrication, and a deep interest in creating products to better our lives and the world around us. Looking at the intersection of design, engineering and materials science, she aims to utilize her knowledge of technical construction with a design research lens to aid in furthering projects at the CFF. Outside of the lab, Mary is an avid gardener, ceramicist and usually has multiple craft projects happening at once.


Luigi Piarulli

Luigi Piarulli

PhD Candidate, College of Engineering, co-advised by Sorin Siegler
MS, Biomedical Engineering, Biomechanics and Biomaterials, Polytechnic University of Milan
BS, Biomedical Engineering, Biomechanics and Biomaterials, Polytechnic University of Milan

Luigi received his BS and MS degrees in biomedical engineering, biomechanics and biomaterials from Polytechnic University of Milan located in Milan, Italy. He is a first-year PhD student working as a research assistant on developing functional fabrics to support human gait for biomedical purposes. He conducts his research in two labs, the Biomechanics Laboratory, advised by Professor Sorin Siegler and the Center for Functional Fabrics, advised by Professor Geneviève Dion. He is mainly assisting in experimental testing and data analysis of novel fabrics. Before joining the CFF research group, Luigi had one year of experience as a research assistant at the Orthopedic Institute of Rizzoli in Bologna, Italy, where he helped develop a novel automatic method to evaluate foot deformities. In his free time, Luigi love playing guitar and drums, hiking and exploring new cities and landscapes. He also has a passion for cooking.


Undergraduate Co-ops

Zachary Acosta

Zachary Acosta

Technology Manufacturing Assistant Co-op
Computer Engineering Student, Drexel University

Zachary is in his fourth year at Drexel pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering with a Minor in Mathematics. He spent his previous co-op researching brain computer interfaces with augmented reality at the ALS Hope Foundation. Now working at the PA FDC, he is looking forward to learning about the projects and provided aid wherever his skills and experience are needed. In his spare time, Zach loves to play board games, sports with friends and teaching and performing traditional Filipino dances.


Thomas Cavalcante

Thomas Cavalcante

Junior Manufacturing Assistant Co-op
Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Product Design Student, Drexel University

Thomas is in his third year at Drexel and as Junior Manufacturing Assistant, helping with the hardware and software design processes needed to bring textile devices to life. He is looking forward to collaborating to make new textile technology that will lead us into the future. He has been interested in working at the PA FDC after a tour of the lab as a first-year. In his free time, he likes to adventure, visit museums and make photos/videos.


Emma Cyphert

Emma Cyphert

Textile Product Development Co-op
Design and Merchandising Student, Drexel University

Emma's academic experience has focused on the fashion industry from concept to consumer, while building a strong knowledge of fashion product development and manufacturing. Her experiences have given her career goals in luxury product development that she plans to further at the PA FDC. As Textile Product Development Assistant, she will be working closely with the team to assist with knitting, weaving, programming, draping and pattern making to help to develop functional fabrics.


Allison Drake

Allison Drake

Communication Design Assistant Co-op
User Experience and Interaction Design Student, Drexel University

Allison is a third-year student with a background in user interface design, user experience and web development. She spent her last co-op on a marketing team doing web design and creating interactive content to enhance the brand. Allison is excited to apply her skillset to the evolving and innovative field of functional fabrics. She is a part of the Drexel Women's Lacrosse team and enjoys exploring Philadelphia with her friends during her free time.  


Karly Naravane

Karly Naravane

Junior Textile Product Development Assistant Co-op
Materials Science and Engineering Student, Drexel University 

Karly is looking to learn about textiles from original concept fo final product, firsthand. She plans to merge her knowledge in Materials Science and Engineering and Fashion Design to innovate sustainable materials for the fashion industry. Karly primarily assists Gabriella, Robin and Chelsea on projects. In her free time, Karly likes to travel, eat, watch Purdue basketball and plan extravagant events that will likely never happen with friends.


Andrew Rodebaugh

Andrew Rodebaugh

Systems Integration Software Engineer Co-op
Software Engineering Student, Drexel University 

​Andrew is a Software Engineering student who was born and raised in Philadelphia. He started programming early in middle school and decided after participating in his high school robotics team as a software lead, that it was his passion. He works closely with Rich to help provide support in the systems integrations of the research and development of functional fabrics. In his free time, he enjoy cooking/baking, spending time with friends and learning more about tech/the world around him.




Student Alumni

Amani Alexander

Entrepreneurship & Retail, Drexel University

Chelsea Amanatides

National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship Recipient
PhD, Materials Science and Engineering, Drexel University
BS, Sustainable Materials & Design, Drexel University

Luke Coleman

Student, Biomedical Engineering, Drexel University

Emma Dietz

Student, Product Design, Drexel University

Grandin Hammell

Student, Electrical Engineering Technology, Drexel University

Kristy Jost

Senior Product Development Engineer at 3M Department of Defense
National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellow
PhD, Materials Engineering, Drexel University
BS, Fashion Design, Drexel University

Carly Kandler

BS, Design & Merchandising (minor in International Economics)

Michael Koerner

DMD, student at Kornberg School of Dentistry, Temple University
MS, Biomedical Engineering, Drexel University
BS, Biomedical Engineering, Drexel University

Ariana Levitt

National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow
PhD Candidate, Materials Science and Engineering, co-advised by Yury Gogotsi
BS, Fiber Science, Cornell University

Alexander Morris

Student, Business & Engineering Student, Drexel University

Camren Randleman

Student, Fashion Design, Drexel University

Amy Stoltzfus

BS, Fashion Design (minor in Fine Arts), Drexel University

Shivansh Suhane

Student, Computer Science, Drexel University

Keith Taylor

BS, Mechanical Engineering (minor in Product Design), Drexel University

Simge Uzun

PhD Candidate, co-advised by Yury Gogotsi
MS, Fiber & Polymer Science, Cornell University
BS, Textile Engineering, Istanbul Technical University