Loza Tadesse is a PhD candidate in Bioengineering at Stanford University under the supervision of Prof. Jennifer Dionne. Her research develops a rapid, all-optical and label free bacterial diagnostic and antibiotic susceptibility testing system that aims to avoid the time consuming culturing step in gold standard methods. Prior to coming to Stanford, she was medical student at St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College in Ethiopia, where she had firsthand experience of the gravity of challenges patients and physicians face in resource limited clinical settings leading her to develop a strong interest in engineering point-of-care medical devices. Loza is a recipient of several awards including the Stanford EDGE, Agilent and DARE fellowships, the 2019 Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) career development award and the 2020 BIOX best poster presentation award. She is elected chair of the 2022 Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) on Plasmonics and Nanophotonics and co-founder of SciFro Summer School Program, which was recently awarded $200K from the Gates Foundation, on an effort aiming at inspiring local Ethiopian college students to develop point-of-care medical devices. She was a researcher at IBM Almaden research center and Los Alamos National Labs on several projects including, a patented works using bacteria for battery material design.

Education & Certifications

  • Master of Science, Stanford University, BIOE-MS (2018)
  • B.A., Minnesota State University Moorhead, Chemistry (2016)
  • MD/not conferred, St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Medicine (2012)

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • Toward rapid infectious disease diagnosis with advances in surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy. The Journal of chemical physics Tadesse, L. F., Safir, F., Ho, C., Hasbach, X., Khuri-Yakub, B. P., Jeffrey, S. S., Saleh, A. A., Dionne, J. 2020; 152 (24): 240902


    In a pandemic era, rapid infectious disease diagnosis is essential. Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) promises sensitive and specific diagnosis including rapid point-of-care detection and drug susceptibility testing. SERS utilizes inelastic light scattering arising from the interaction of incident photons with molecular vibrations, enhanced by orders of magnitude with resonant metallic or dielectric nanostructures. While SERS provides a spectral fingerprint of the sample, clinical translation is lagged due to challenges in consistency of spectral enhancement, complexity in spectral interpretation, insufficient specificity and sensitivity, and inefficient workflow from patient sample collection to spectral acquisition. Here, we highlight the recent, complementary advances that address these shortcomings, including (1) design of label-free SERS substrates and data processing algorithms that improve spectral signal and interpretability, essential for broad pathogen screening assays; (2) development of new capture and affinity agents, such as aptamers and polymers, critical for determining the presence or absence of particular pathogens; and (3) microfluidic and bioprinting platforms for efficient clinical sample processing. We also describe the development of low-cost, point-of-care, optical SERS hardware. Our paper focuses on SERS for viral and bacterial detection, in hopes of accelerating infectious disease diagnosis, monitoring, and vaccine development. With advances in SERS substrates, machine learning, and microfluidics and bioprinting, the specificity, sensitivity, and speed of SERS can be readily translated from laboratory bench to patient bedside, accelerating point-of-care diagnosis, personalized medicine, and precision health.

    View details for DOI 10.1063/1.5142767

    View details for PubMedID 32610995

  • Plasmonic and Electrostatic Interactions Enable Uniformly Enhanced Liquid Bacterial Surface-Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS). Nano letters Tadesse, L. F., Ho, C. S., Chen, D. H., Arami, H., Banaei, N., Gambhir, S. S., Jeffrey, S. S., Saleh, A. A., Dionne, J. 2020


    Surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) is a promising cellular identification and drug susceptibility testing platform, provided it can be performed in a controlled liquid environment that maintains cell viability. We investigate bacterial liquid-SERS, studying plasmonic and electrostatic interactions between gold nanorods and bacteria that enable uniformly enhanced SERS. We synthesize five nanorod sizes with longitudinal plasmon resonances ranging from 670 to 860 nm and characterize SERS signatures of Gram-negative Escherichia coli and Serratia marcescens and Gram-positive Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria in water. Varying the concentration of bacteria and nanorods, we achieve large-area SERS enhancement that is independent of nanorod resonance and bacteria type; however, bacteria with higher surface charge density exhibit significantly higher SERS signal. Using cryo-electron microscopy and zeta potential measurements, we show that the higher signal results from attraction between positively charged nanorods and negatively charged bacteria. Our robust liquid-SERS measurements provide a foundation for bacterial identification and drug testing in biological fluids.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.nanolett.0c03189

    View details for PubMedID 32914987

  • Nanophotonic Platforms for Chiral Sensing and Separation. Accounts of chemical research Solomon, M. L., Saleh, A. A., Poulikakos, L. V., Abendroth, J. M., Tadesse, L. F., Dionne, J. A. 2020


    Chirality in Nature can be found across all length scales, from the subatomic to the galactic. At the molecular scale, the spatial dissymmetry in the atomic arrangements of pairs of mirror-image molecules, known as enantiomers, gives rise to fascinating and often critical differences in chemical and physical properties. With increasing hierarchical complexity, protein function, cell communication, and organism health rely on enantioselective interactions between molecules with selective handedness. For example, neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases have been linked to distortion of chiral-molecular structure. Moreover, d-amino acids have become increasingly recognized as potential biomarkers, necessitating comprehensive analytical methods for diagnosis that are capable of distinguishing l- from d-forms and quantifying trace concentrations of d-amino acids. Correspondingly, many pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals consist of chiral molecules that target particular enantioselective pathways. Yet, despite the importance of molecular chirality, it remains challenging to sense and to separate chiral compounds. Chiral-optical spectroscopies are designed to analyze the purity of chiral samples, but they are often insensitive to the trace enantiomeric excess that might be present in a patient sample, such as blood, urine, or sputum, or pharmaceutical product. Similarly, existing separation schemes to enable enantiopure solutions of chiral products are inefficient or costly. Consequently, most pharmaceuticals or agrochemicals are sold as racemic mixtures, with reduced efficacy and potential deleterious impacts. Recent advances in nanophotonics lay the foundation toward highly sensitive and efficient chiral detection and separation methods. In this Account, we highlight our group's effort to leverage nanoscale chiral light-matter interactions to detect, characterize, and separate enantiomers, potentially down to the single molecule level. Notably, certain resonant nanostructures can significantly enhance circular dichroism for improved chiral sensing and spectroscopy as well as high-yield enantioselective photochemistry. We first describe how achiral metallic and dielectric nanostructures can be utilized to increase the local optical chirality density by engineering the coupling between electric and magnetic optical resonances. While plasmonic nanoparticles locally enhance the optical chirality density, high-index dielectric nanoparticles can enable large-volume and uniform-sign enhancements in the optical chirality density. By overlapping these electric and magnetic resonances, local chiral fields can be enhanced by several orders of magnitude. We show how these design rules can enable high-yield enantioselective photochemistry and project a 2000-fold improvement in the yield of a photoionization reaction. Next, we discuss how optical forces can enable selective manipulation and separation of enantiomers. We describe the design of low-power enantioselective optical tweezers with the ability to trap sub-10 nm dielectric particles. We also characterize their chiral-optical forces with high spatial and force resolution using combined optical and atomic force microscopy. These optical tweezers exhibit an enantioselective optical force contrast exceeding 10 pN, enabling selective attraction or repulsion of enantiomers based on the illumination polarization. Finally, we discuss future challenges and opportunities spanning fundamental research to technology translation. Disease detection in the clinic as well as pharmaceutical and agrochemical industrial applications requiring large-scale, high-throughput production will gain particular benefit from the simplicity and relative low cost that nanophotonic platforms promise.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.accounts.9b00460

    View details for PubMedID 31913015

  • Biotemplating pores with size and shape diversity for Li-oxygen Battery Cathodes SCIENTIFIC REPORTS Oh, D., Ozgit-Akgun, C., Akca, E., Thompson, L. E., Tadesse, L. F., Kim, H., Demirci, G., Miller, R. D., Maune, H. 2017; 7


    Synthetic porogens provide an easy way to create porous structures, but their usage is limited due to synthetic difficulties, process complexities and prohibitive costs. Here we investigate the use of bacteria, sustainable and naturally abundant materials, as a pore template. The bacteria require no chemical synthesis, come in variable sizes and shapes, degrade easier and are approximately a million times cheaper than conventional porogens. We fabricate free standing porous multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWCNT) films using cultured, harmless bacteria as porogens, and demonstrate substantial Li-oxygen battery performance improvement by porosity control. Pore volume as well as shape in the cathodes were easily tuned to improve oxygen evolution efficiency by 30% and double the full discharge capacity in repeated cycles compared to the compact MWCNT electrode films. The interconnected pores produced by the templates greatly improve the accessibility of reactants allowing the achievement of 4,942 W/kg (8,649 Wh/kg) at 2 A/ge (1.7 mA/cm(2)).

    View details for DOI 10.1038/srep45919

    View details for Web of Science ID 000398237800001

    View details for PubMedID 28374862

  • Cooperative enhancement of the nonlinear optical response in conjugated energetic materials: A TD-DFT study JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS Sifain, A. E., Tadesse, L. F., Bjorgaard, J. A., Chavez, D. E., Prezhdo, O. V., Scharff, R. J., Tretiak, S. 2017; 146 (11)


    Conjugated energetic molecules (CEMs) are a class of explosives with high nitrogen content that posses both enhanced safety and energetic performance properties and are ideal for direct optical initiation. As isolated molecules, they absorb within the range of conventional lasers. Crystalline CEMs are used in practice, however, and their properties can differ due to intermolecular interaction. Herein, time-dependent density functional theory was used to investigate one-photon absorption (OPA) and two-photon absorption (TPA) of monomers and dimers obtained from experimentally determined crystal structures of CEMs. OPA scales linearly with the number of chromophore units, while TPA scales nonlinearly, where a more than 3-fold enhancement in peak intensity, per chromophore unit, is calculated. Cooperative enhancement depends on electronic delocalization spanning both chromophore units. An increase in sensitivity to nonlinear laser initiation makes these materials suitable for practical use. This is the first study predicting a cooperative enhancement of the nonlinear optical response in energetic materials composed of relatively small molecules. The proposed model quantum chemistry is validated by comparison to crystal structure geometries and the optical absorption of these materials dissolved in solution.

    View details for DOI 10.1063/1.4978579

    View details for Web of Science ID 000397313600020

    View details for PubMedID 28330340

  • Effect of Transition Metal Oxide Cathodes on the Oxygen Evolution Reaction in Li-O-2 Batteries JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C Oh, D., Virwani, K., Tadesse, L., Jurich, M., Aetukuri, N., Thompson, L. E., Kim, H., Bethune, D. S. 2017; 121 (3): 1404–11