B.S. Biological Engineering, University of Maine, 2015
I completed my undergraduate research here at the University of Maine where I received High Honors from the Honors College, a B.S. in Biological Engineering, and a minor in Chemistry. In my undergraduate research, I completed an Honor’s Thesis under advisement of Dr. Michael Mason titled Physical Properties of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles. During the Honor’s Thesis I was awarded a CUGR fellowship from the University. After completing my undergraduate degree, I started pursuing a M.S. in Biological Engineering. Prior to completion of the M.S. I converted to a PhD program as part of the GSBSE. I am currently a second year GSBSE student in the Biomedical Engineering PhD program and was directly admitted into Dr. David Neivandt’s research group. My research, Nanocellulose Conduits for Enhanced Regeneration of Peripheral Nerve Injuries, is focused around the regeneration of peripheral nerves after traumatic injuries. We are utilizing cellulose nanofibrils (CNF) as the sole material in the construction of neural conduits. These neural conduits are implanted to bridge a neural gap and create a microenvironment over the injury site that helps kickstart regeneration.
CNF has exceptional biological characteristics in both wet and dry forms. For our application we have tested several cell types involved in neural regeneration and have seen varying results that benefit regeneration. We also have completed 2 rounds of mouse trials where we have implanted the CNF conduit over a gap created in the sciatic nerve. From these trials, we observed that conduit treated injuries regenerated nearly 4 times faster than an equivalent injury that was not treated. Currently we are preparing to perform histology on mice from the second study to further understand what is occurring on a cellular level within the conduit. We hope that information from these findings will help provide the information to further engineer a solution to peripheral nerve regeneration.