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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
Professor of Design, Westphal College of Media Arts & Design
Professor (Courtesy), Materials Science and Engineering & Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, College of Engineering

Geneviève Dion directs the Center for Functional Fabrics and the Pennsylvania Fabric Discovery Center at Drexel University. She is a Professor of Design at Westphal College of Media Arts and Design and holds courtesy appointments at the College of Engineering in the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering and, Mechanical Engineering and Machanics. Dion leads transdisciplinary teams at the intersection of design, engineering, and science to create textile devices through advanced manufacturing - new materials, tools, fabrication processes and products. Her research has received funding from Industry, NSF, NIH, Keck Futures, AFFOA, NextFlex, ARM and the US Army ManTech Program. Dion has co-authored more than forty papers and conference proceedings. She also has been granted six patents and ten more are currently under review. Her design work is in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum and the DeYoung Museum. Dion obtained a B.A. in Industrial Design from San Francisco State University and a master's degree in the same subject from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. 

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


PA FDC Staff

Robin Althouse

Robin Althouse, MS

Textile Fabrication Engineer

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.

Eliza Chan

Eliza Jean Chan, MS

Textile Fabrication Engineer

Obsessed with old world arts and crafts, Eliza began her Maker's journey as a textile artist, mainly in apparel & accessories. This passion evolved to embrace new CAD technologies (not yet common in fashion but available to other disciplines). With her 3D knowledge and a strong desire to rapidly iterate, maintain creative autonomy, and mass produce locally with agility, a unique skillset of digital and analog methods emerged that includes phygital asset creation, lean US manufacturing and researching apparel market trends in tech-driven sustainability and solutions. Her interests include art, cycling, martial arts, travel, cyber-ethics, family BBQs, First Fridays, slumber parties, thinking about AI, immersive 3D experiences and the ever-changing landscape for designers, laborers and the supply chain.

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

Director of Business Development

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.

Venus Ennis-Calloway

Venus Ennis-Calloway, MS

Executive Assistant II

Venus considers herself to be a servant leader. She has over 15 years of experience supporting executive level business and educational administration. Her interest and expertise are in process improvement in project management and creative problem solving in business operations. She is also an alumna of Drexel, possessing a BS in Business Administration '14 and MS in Creativity & Innovation '17. In her spare time, she enjoys helping entrepreneurs and small businesses achieve their dreams and goals.

Michael Feldmus

Michael Feldmus, MBA

Knit Engineer and Innovation Space 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.

Kate Field

Kate Field

R&D Program Manager

Kate has over twenty years of experience working in the textile industry. Before joining the PA FDC, Kate designed woven upholstery fabrics for a boutique Pennsylvania mill. As the R&D Program Manager, Kate is involved with each project from initiation through closure and supports the team to ensure that the technicalities are ironed out. Kate is a voracious reader, people watcher and hot chocolate drinker.

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.

Topher Gent

Topher Gent, MDes

Product Development Designer

Topher is an industrial designer and researcher. His design experience includes end-to-end product development of jewelry and luxury goods, hardware, furniture and lighting. With an emphasis on both quality craftsmanship and scalable production, Topher specializes in a holistic and iterative approach to design and prototype development. He is especially interested in the ways that traditional techniques integrate with emerging digital manufacturing technologies and design methods. When he is not working on projects, you'll find Topher in a local coffee shop reading and writing about art and design, exploring new cities, and petting other people's dogs.

Christina Kara

Christina Kara

Director of Operations & Compliance
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 director of operations & compliance, 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 previously worked in higher education supporting minority STEM students. She specializes in content strategy, graphic/information 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.

Stephanie Minock

Stephanie Minock

Textile Fabrication Technician

Stephanie completed her Bachelor's degree in fashion design at Drexel in June 2022. Through her time spent as a student, Stephanie developed a background in industrialized knitting and an interest in technical textiles. Outside of work, she enjoys crocheting and trying new restaurants around the city with friends.

Janet Nguyen

Janet Nguyen, MSEE

E-Textile Electrical Engineer

Janet is an RF engineer whose background is in RF MEMS, Aerospace and Defense receiver systems design, testing and troubleshooting, and signal integrity. With a broad range of electrical engineering experience in research and industry, she is thrilled to be able to apply these skills and learn more in the fascinating e-textile space.

Lauren Niu

Lauren Niu, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher

Lauren is a postdoctoral researcher interested in the intersection of geometry, topology, and mechanics in all sorts of physical and biological systems. She loves curiosity-driven research with a heavy emphasis on visualization, and she received her PhD in Physics from Harvard University. She is an aerialist and makes music in her free time.

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.

Michael Weaker

Michael Weaker

Senior Fabrication Engineer

Michael is a product designer, engineer, innovator and entrepreneur. Through US government contracts and grants, he has developed robots, irrigation systems and hydroelectric generators. He also developed a range of commercial products like technical textiles for furniture, coatings for General Motors, a Kickstarter-funded toy, and shower experiences for Kohler. Michael operates at the intersection of tech R&D, human-centered design and business; with his understanding of these areas, he troubleshoots research development hurdles and guides new technologies toward commercial viability by acting as a liaison and interpreter between technology developers who "speak" science and engineering and end users and vendors who "speak" practicality and cost.

Graduate Students

Taylor Baugh

Taylor Baugh

PhD Student, Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics
BEng Aerospace Engineering, Astronautics and Space Technology, Kingston University London

Taylor is a first-year PhD student and research assistant at the Center for Functional Fabrics, advised by Professor Geneviève Dion. She received her Bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from Kingston University London, completing undergraduate dissertations in the analysis of cellular solids under dynamic impact, and the development of electrical capacitance tomography systems. Taylor has some R&D start-up experience in the development of advanced sportswear, which led to her ultimate interest in technical textiles. Currently, she is assisting with the research of capacitive textile touch sensors and is especially interested in the structure and design of knitted fabrics for specific mechanical properties and engineering applications. Outside of her studies, Taylor enjoys playing tennis, reading and astronomy.


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.


Rena Mathew

Rena Mathew

PhD Student, Biomedical Engineering
BS, Biomedical Engineering, Drexel University

Rena is a current graduate student pursuing a Master's and PhD degree in biomedical engineering with a concentration in biomechanics and human performance. Her background is in foot and ankle biomechanics research and she has expertise in developing dynamic computational models to replicate bone and ligament interactions. She also runs mechanical tests and design and manufacture test fixtures. Outside of university and research obligations, she professionally trains in Latin dancing and kickboxing.

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

Alaina McConnell

Alaina McConnell

Textile Product Development Assistant Co-op
Fashion Design Student, Drexel University

Alaina is a third-year fashion design major with an interest in adaptive fashion and textile science. As this is her first co-op, she is looking forward to assisting the team in the development of various projects, as well as expanding her knowledge of textiles as a whole. In her free time, Alaina likes to knit, crochet, sew, draw and spend time with her cat.


Bennett Kraunelis

Bennett Kraunelis

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

Bennett is a third-year student at Drexel University who for his first co-op, worked in abrasive blasting room design and manufacture. His role as Technology Manufacturing Assistant puts him in an interdisciplinary position working with everybody to create innovative solutions, solve unforeseen problems and help keep the Center running smoothly. On the weekends, Bennett creates fun 3D prints, skateboards and love to hike.


Mike Vukovich

Mike Vukovich

E-Textile Electrical Engineer Co-op
Electrical Engineering Student, Drexel University

Michael is on his first co-op, excited to learn about and participate in functional fabrics research. Through his time working at the Center, he will operate microelectronics, use digital circuit design applications and research electrical systems to assist in product development. In his free time, Michael enjoys music and supporting local artists; he wants to design custom audio equipment as a hobby.


Nathan Earney

Nathan Earney

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

Nathan is a computer engineering major. He spent his first co-op working as a Virtual Reality Clinical Simulation Research Assistant for the Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions. As a Systems Integration Software Engineer Co-op, Nathan will provide support in the systems integration of functional fabric research and development activities. In his free time, Nathan enjoys running for Drexel Club Track, working with Dragon Robotics Battle-bots, and assisting with Drexel Electric Racing.


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