B.S. Geological Sciences, Michigan State University, 2011
B.S. Psychology, Michigan State University, 2013
I joined the GSBSE in the Biomedical Science degree program, but my experience microfabricating cell-on-chip devices during my rotation with Dr. Scott Collins and Dr. Rosemary Smith sparked my interest in engineering. Having a strong undergraduate background in mathematics and physics, I felt that I could make up the necessary background to switch to the Biomedical Engineering degree program. The admissions committee agreed, and my request to transfer programs was accepted. I am incredibly thankful to be part of a graduate program that works to support students on an individual level. Winning the 2018 Graduate Innovation Award from the Foster Center for Student Innovation gave me a big confidence boost that I made the correct decision in switching degrees. Moving forward, my aim is to pursue a career in science policy. The GSBSE and the University of Maine have provided me with the opportunity to build important skills as a research scientist and student leader. I feel motivated and prepared to enter the next phase of my career after graduation.
Dissertation Project Microinstruments and Systems Lab (Dr. Scott Collins and Dr. Rosemary Smith): Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for about one in three deaths in the United States. Traditional therapies aim to minimize damage caused by CVD, but do little to address the loss of healthy heart tissue following acute injury. Engineered cardiac tissue has emerged as a promising therapy for cardiac tissue repair. In my project, pluripotent cells suspended in a three-dimensional gel matrix are differentiated in vitro into functional cardiac tissue with a highly reproducible, complex spatial cooperation of multiple cardiac cell types. The self-organization observed in the developing tissue holds the key for the mechanism behind in vitro cardiomyogenesis. Short term specific aims are to map the spatiotemporal development of cell types in the tissue, identifying self-organization induced by boundary conditions. Long term goals are to use these mechanisms of in vitro cardiomyogenesis to engineer cardiac tissue for in vitro drug testing and in vivo cardiac tissue grafts.
Gramlich Lab Rotation During my rotation in the Gramlich Lab, I was involved in getting the lab’s human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC) line started. My project was to investigate cell viability in norbornene-functionalized carboxymethylcellulose (norCMC) hydrogels. NorCMC hydrogels are being used as a synthetic, biocompatible three-dimensional scalffold for cell encapsulation and differentiation studies.
Cox Lab Rotation I grew motor neurons from embryonic stem cells extracted from a mouse model of spinal muscular atrophy with respiratory distress type 1 (SMARD1), determined the viability of these cells after flow sorting, and performed RNA extractions to determine the feasibility of using this approach for future gene expression analysis.
- President, Graduate Student Government (June 2018 – Present)
- Student Mentor, Biomedical Engineering (September 2015 – Present)
- GSBSE Senator, Graduate Student Government (September 2017 – May 2018)