Lab Members

Principal Investigator

Sri-Rajasekhar (Raj) Kothapalli

Assistant Professor

Department of Biomedical Engineering

Member of Penn State Cancer Institute

Pennsylvania State University

Office: 325 CBE Building,

State College, PA, 16802.

Lab (Engineering): 329 CBE Building,

State College, PA, 16802.

Lab (Clinical Translation): T4883, Hershey Cancer Institute, Hershey, PA, 17033.


Tel: (814)-865-0459


Brief Biography: Dr. Kothapalli is the Principal Investigator of the BioPhotonics and Ultrasound Imaging Laboratory. He received basic education and research training in Applied Physics and Optical Engineering and later earned a Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering from the Washington University in Saint Louis in 2009, under the guidance of Prof. Lihong Wang. His PhD thesis focused on the development of ultrasound-modulated optical tomography (UOT). He hypothesized and demonstrated that UOT can image optical scattering contrast at ultrasonic resolution, using theory, simulations and experiments. He investigated different optical technologies (e.g., CCD based speckle contrast detection, Long cavity Fabry-Perot Interferometers, Four-wave mixing, and spectral hole burning technique) to efficiently detect the ultrasound-modulated light photons. During his postdoctoral research (2009 to 2013) at Stanford University, Dr. Kothapalli designed, developed, validated and also clinically translated a novel dual modality transrectal ultrasound and photoacoustic (TRUSPA) imaging device for prostate cancer screening. This project was guided by Prof. Sanjiv Gambhir and Prof. Khuri-Yakub in the Departments of Radiology and Electrical Engineering, respectively. His other notable publications during this period include the first demonstration of Cerenkov luminescence endoscopy, photoacoustic molecular targeted imaging approaches using small molecules and nanoparticles, and single cell photonic nanocavities for intracellular probing. From 2014 to 2016, Dr. Kothapalli served as an instructor in the Department of Radiology, Stanford University, and conducted first-in-human pilot clinical studies on several prostate cancer patients using the TRUSPA device he developed.


Dr. Kothapalli received K99-R00 Pathway to Independence grant award (2014 to 2020) from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) center of National Institutes of Health. 


Postdoctoral Scholars and Visiting Scholars

Dr. Ajay Dangi. received his B. Tech degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Varanasi. He completed his Masters and Ph.D from Indian Institute of Sciences (IISC), Bangalore while developing MEMS ultrasound transducers and exploring their novel applications. Currently, he is working towards realization and electronics integration of innovative Photoacoustic and ultrasound imaging transducers. His research interests include MEMS sensors, biomedical imaging, and ultrasonics. Beyond research, he enjoys robotics, reading novels, and listening to music. Email: AXD571@psu.ed



Prof. Khaldon Lweesy received his Ph.D degree in Bioengineering from The Pennsylvania State University,  in 2004, and his M.Sc. and B.Sc. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan in 1997 and 1994, respectively. He worked at the department of Biomedical Engineering at Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan as an assistant professor from July 2005 to April 2010 and as an associate professor from May 2010 till present. Dr. Lweesy is currently on one-year sabbatical as a visiting scholar in the BioPhotonics + Ultrasound Imaging lab.

His main research interests are high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), ultrasound imaging, and biomedical signal processing. He has published more than 30 papers in these research areas.


Graduate Students

Sumit Agrawal received his B. Tech in Electronics and  Communication in July 2012 from GLA Institute, Mathura (India). While there, he did research on decoding algorithms for quasi-cyclic low density parity check codes. Later, he earned an M. Tech in Media and Sound Engineering from I.I.T Kharagpur, India in July 2014 doing research on rate control of H.264 and High Efficiency Video Coding. He then worked for an year in KLA Tencor where he explored image processing algorithms for defect inspection in silicon wafers during IC fabrication. He later joined SkinCurate Research, India based smart medical imaging devices startup, where he developed interest in medical imaging and machine learning.  Sumit joined Dr. Kothapalli’s group as a PhD student in Spring-2017 and is currently focused on developing dual modality ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging hardware as well as image reconstruction software. Besides academics, he is also passionate about playing musical instruments – Keyboard, classical violin and mouth organ. He considers life as a small journey and believes in making good relations with the people met in the journey. Email:


Chris Fadden is a PhD student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and pursuing his doctoral thesis under the guidance of Dr. Kothapalli. Chris graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2016, majoring in Electrical Engineering, with a minor in Scientific Computing.  During his undergraduate studies he focused on numerical modelling, especially electromagnetics using the FDTD method.  Part of his focus was the application of wavelets and multiresolution analysis to FDTD.  His current interests include advanced mathematical methods for numerical modelling, and inverse scattering applied especially to medical applications. When not in the lab, Chris is an avid guitar player and musician.  He can often be found at various venues listening to local talent.  He also enjoys hiking and exploring his natural surroundings. Email:



Haoyang Chen is currently a Ph.D. student in Dr.Kothapalli’s BioPhotonics + Ultrasound Imaging Lab in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He received his BS and MS degree from Drexel University in biomedical engineering in 2019, concentration in medical devices and imaging. Haoyang has worked in multiple companies including EMP Medical, Teleflex Medical, Rex Medical, and Briganti Product Development Group. In the process he gained affluent research experience in signal/image processing and medical device design and development for applications such as deep vein thrombosis, vascular closure, bone plates and screws for ribs, cartilage biopsy, and trigger finger surgery. He has also experience developing portable ultrasound device and portable liquid cooler. He also obtained two patents in colorless blue-light filtering in 2014 and fast cooling system design in 2018. Haoyang led his senior design team to develop an auditory assistive chemistry lab device for blind students and won the 2018 ASTM Senior Design Grant and Botstiber Senior Design Award. In Dr. Kothapalli’s lab, Haoyang’s major interests are in transducer fabrication for developing novel ultrasound and photoacoustic devices, photoacoustic signal and image processing, and their potential application in brain-computer interface. His ultimate goal is to provide quality products to help improve patients’ outcomes. In his spare time, Haoyang likes playing flute and bamboo flute. He is also good at playing soccer and badminton. Email:



Deepit Abhishek Durairaj is a Master’s student in the department of Electrical Engineering at Penn State and pursuing his thesis under the guidance of Dr. Kothapalli. His primary area of interests lies in the domain of Machine Learning and Deep learning. Current, he is working on devising novel deep learning algorithms for ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging. Deepit received his B.E in Electronics and Communication from RMK Engineering College, Anna University(Chennai) in June 2017. In his spare time, Deepit enjoys playing soccer, cooking, travelling and spending quality time with his friends. Email:





Visweshwar Srinivasan (Vish) is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Penn state. His primary areas of interests lie in the domain of Image and Signal Processing and Embedded Systems. Currently, at the BioPhotonics + Ultrasound Imaging Lab, Vish is working on Methods on Quantitative Thermoacoustic Computed Tomography and Circuit Integration of a Miniaturized Photoacoustic systems on a Chip. He graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree from Anna University, Chennai, India where he also lives. Beyond academics, Vish likes to listen to music and sings. He is a photography enthusiast and also enjoys hiking and exploring his natural surroundings. He constantly volunteers for organizations that offer help and is the Secretary of Indian Graduate Student Association, Penn State. Email:


Undergraduate Students


Tyler Shirley is a junior Schreyer Honors Scholar in Electrical Engineering at Penn State. Tyler’s honors thesis is focused on the development of simulations modeling and analyzing the propagation and molecular interactions of optical, photoacoustic, and ultrasonic signals for in vivo imaging for remotely guided steerable needles. Outside of Dr. Kothapalli’s lab, Tyler has experience working with Python, Java, MATLAB, LabVIEW, and Arduino programing languages. In his free time, Tyler enjoys hiking, skiing, biking, and playing the trumpet.



Kerrick Johnstonbaugh is a third year undergraduate student at Penn State University majoring in biomedical engineering. Kerrick is interested in applying machine learning algorithms to solve medical problems, and is working in Dr. Kothapalli’s lab to develop an algorithm which will identify tumors and vasculature in images acquired via a photoacoustic imaging system. In his free time Kerrick enjoys hiking, snowboarding, travelling, and spending time with his friends and his family. When he graduates, Kerrick plans to go to graduate school and continue to learn every day. Email:



Xinyi Yang is an undergraduate student majoring in Biomedical Engineering with medical imaging and devices option and minoring in Mathematics. In Dr. Kothapalli’s lab, Xinyi focuses on validating dual modality ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging devices using various phantoms. In her spare time, Xinyi enjoys reading, swimming, listening to music. Besides that, she also actively participates events in charity organizations. Email:




Hussain Albahrani is a senior student at Penn State University majoring in Biomedical Engineering-Medical Imaging and Devices, and minoring in Engineering Leadership Development. In Dr. Kothapalli’s lab, Hussain is assisting in multiple projects for the development and design of novel ultrasound and photoacoustic medical devices, as well as image reconstruction simulations. Outside of the lab, Hussain enjoys being outdoor spending time with friends, hiking, playing soccer, and table tennis. Email:




Christopher Wible is a rising senior at Penn State University where he is pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering. Chris is currently investigating transducer fabrication with a focus on flexible and transparent transducers. He hopes to apply these transducers to develop novel biomedical ultrasound and photoacoustic diagnostic devices in order to improve patient results. In his spare time, Chris enjoys attending car shows/racing events, traveling and spending time with friends and family.  Email:






Jiaru Chen (Helen) is a rising Junior at Penn State University pursuing Bachelor degree in Biomedical Engineering with Medical Imaging and Devices option, and Mathematics Systems Analysis as a minor. In Dr. Kothapalli’s lab she is working on thermoacoustic image reconstruction and radio-frequency induced acoustic tomography. Outside of academics, Helen loves ice skating, field hockey, piano, art and Chinese food. She enjoys traveling with her friends and family.  Email:





Michael Lauff is a senior majoring in biomedical engineering specializing in medical imaging and devices. Michael assists Dr. Kothapalli with the creation and submission of research protocols for ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging experiments. He ensures that the protocols comply with the regulations of Penn State’s standing Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Outside of the lab, Michael enjoys golfing, bike riding, volunteering at Community Meals on Wheels and spending time with friends and family. Email:




Sara Heidari Zadi is a third year undergraduate student at Penn State majoring in biomedical engineering with a Biomaterials option and minoring in Planetary Science and Astronomy. As an aspiring dentist, Sara is currently studying the applications of ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging to dentistry. In her spare time, Sara enjoys painting, hiking, and watching documentaries on astronomy.  Email:





Manuel Andres Roshardt (Manu) is an undergraduate student majoring in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Medical Imaging and Devices, and minoring in Nanotechnology. Manu’s interests lie in the design and fabrication of hardware for innovative medical devices. In Dr. Kothapalli’s lab, he is working on the development of hardware for ultrasound and photoacoustic imaging, as well as data collection and image reconstruction. Outside of the lab, Manu dedicates his time to reading, playing the piano, watching and playing soccer, and participating in competitive academic clubs.



Lab Alumni


Gaurav Ramesh Dutta (MS, Eelectrical Enginering, Graduated May 2019: Thesis: Wearable photoacoustic amplifier design and analysis)









Adil Pratap Virk (BME)        Matt Homewood   (EE)    Maryam Felemban (BME)






  Neil Frings (BME)                         Jason Zhang (BME)      Najiyyah Clark (BME & ME)