INDUSTRY AND LABORATORY EXPERIENCE:
Badylak Lab, University of Pittsburgh
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Earlier this year and this current semester, I am working as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Stephen Badylak's lab at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Badylak's work centers around the use of extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffolds and their use in wound healing.
Witte Lab, Hannover Medical School (Hannover, Germany)
To create these ECM scaffolds, tissues need to go through a process called decellularization. Currently, I decellularize different porcine tissues for various lab uses. I also perform histology imaging to assess polypropylene coasted meshes for clinical product improvement.
This past summer I traveled abroad to Hannover, Germany to perform magnesium-based biomaterials research in Dr. Frank Witte's lab. My project was to investigate the use of U2os (human osteosarcoma) JRed cells as indicators of cytotoxicity. I not only performed mammalian cell culture, I also learned histological techniques such as TUNEL, DAPI and H&E stainings, and performed formazan based cell viability assays. In addition to a great lab experience, I was fully immersed in German culture for 3 months.
Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc. - a Johnson & Johnson Family Company (Cincinnati, OH)
If you would like to read more about my research in Germany, please see my write-up of my project in the Written work section, or see me present my work at the Technical Research Exhibition at the Fall Region II NSBE Conference!
Research & Development Co-op
For two co-op rotations, I worked for Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc. For my first rotation, I was placed on the HOUDINI project team, where I performed and documented various validation and verification testing. Testing included using Instron equipment to perform various mechanical tests, investigating the effects of different device components on overall device performance, and running an installation qualification of a laser welder. I performed statistical analysis on my test results and presented them in official company documentation.
Banerjee Lab, University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)
On my second rotation, I was placed on the EAGLE project team. In addition to performing similar tasks from my previous rotation, my work during my second term was more design oriented. I was given the task of designing and later testing a lever return spring for the project device, and designing mechanical test fixtures in NX 6.0. I also performed other mechanical test for various teams within R&D.
My experience at Ethicon taught me valuable technical skills; I learned and applied Minitab and NX 6.0, but also enhanced my analytical skills. I also gained valuable leadership experience: I planned a charity even for my project team, participated in the company's Toastmaster's club, learned how to communicate with part suppliers, and how to work effectively in a professional environment.
My first lab experience was during the summer of 2009 in Dr. Ipsita Banerjee's lab at the University of Pittsburgh. My project was to investigate the effects of substrate stiffness on embryonic stem cell proliferation. Being my first lab experience, I learned basic lab cell culture techniques, the process of planning out research projects, and how to analyze results. If you'd like to learn more about my project, please read my final paper in the Written section!
National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
I have been an active member of my university's NSBE chapter since 2008. In addition to participating in NSBE's social, professional, and volunteering events, I have taken on leadership roles within the organization. I was part of the chapter's Freshmen Shadowing Initiative my freshman year, where I helped plan various social events. My sophomore year, I was elected chapter Vice President. My duties as Vice President included managing the executive board's activities, and communication between the Executive Board and the general body. As Vice President, I also served as head of the Membership Zone, being heavily involved in the recruitment and retention of chapter members.
Pitt EXCEL Program
Currently, I serve as the chapter's Publications Chair. My main duty as publications chair is create and promote The Torch magazine, the chapter's official publication. After laying dormant for two years, I took the initiative to restart the magazine for a second volume- I redesigned the layout, created a new direction for content, and gathered a new group of students to serve as the second Torch committee.
I also created the winning design for the University of Pittsburgh's Paint the Panther competition, where school organizations paint a fiberglass panther statue to show off their pride in their organization. I executed the painting process of our panther, Torch, and he now stands proudly in the student union to represent our NSBE chapter.
Pitt EXCEL is a program that promotes diversity in engineering and provide support for minorities in engineering. I have been a participant in the Pitt EXCEL program ever since I entered the Swanson School of Engineering. Now that I am a 4th year senior, I now mentor other freshmen students as they go through their freshmen year by providing support and advice through the year.
Freshmen Engineering Leadership Team
As an ambassador, I serve as a liaison between the Swanson School of Engineering and prospective students. I give tours of Benedum Hall (the engineering school building), serve on student panels, and participate in other school recruiting events (such as Admitted Student Days). I enjoy engaging with students and their families while showing off my school pride!
Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative (PTEI)
When I have time available during the week, I sometimes give time to PTEI's Education & Workforce Development division. I lead activities with Pittsburgh high school students for an afternoon, and volunteered for PTEI during the Annual SciTech Festival. In both events, I introduced students to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, carrying out tissue engineering related activities with them. I enjoy volunteering for PTEI because it allows me to pass on my excitement in regenerative medicine!
Annual Freshmen Engineering Sustainability Conference
Every year, the freshmen engineering students in the Swanson School of Engineering participate in a professional-style conference. Working with a partner, students write a conference research paper and present it to their peers and engineering faculty. I participated in this conference when I was a freshman (to read my paper, please see the Written section) and won Best Poster Award. I work as a 2011 Conference Co-chair; I aided students in writing their papers and also help judge which paper won Best Paper Award.