"I applied to the Scholars program to gain a better understanding of what it takes to be an academic researcher. Having worked in the lab before applying to University Scholars, I had a fairly good idea of what assortment of skills and thinking mindsets one needed to have in order to be a successful researcher; however, I felt like I was just skimming the surface. University Scholars presented an opportunity for me to delve deeper and truly see the inner workings of a researching mind and the discoveries that lie. My goals for the upcoming year are to discover and create a new type of nano-hydrogel in order to better cure and detect the presence of COPD. My overall goal however, as stated above, is to truly create and establish a "curosity" mindset, where not only hard scientific facts dictate the direction of my research, but also creative, innovative and challenging ideas enter the mix as well."
Biomechanics and Business Administration
My primary academic interests include attending graduate school in either Biomedical Engineering or Environmental Engineering. Currently, I am looking at applying to a couple of Ph.D programs at various schools along with a couple Master's programs with the intention of seeking a Ph.D later. My research interests include nanotechnology along with the field of biomechanics and water remediation as it pertains to Environmental Engineering.
Academic and Other Awards
- University Scholars Program Scholarship (2011-2012)
- Dean's Engineering Scholarship (2010)
- Cunningham Scholarship (2011)
- Honors Ambassadors
- Engineering Ambassadors
- Engineers Without Borders
Last year, I acted as community service chair for the Honors Ambassadors. Through the position, we set up a partnership with Williams Elementary school, where we would send 5-6 Honors Ambassadors every week, myself included, to mentor and tutor to at risk kids. We also participated in Parents nights with Williams Elementary school where we would bring in the families of the elementary school students and talk to them about the steps and skills needed to acheieve acceptance into college. Even though we were talking to elementary school parents, we thought it crucial to start thinking on college early for these at-risk kids. I have also tutored as a Science Fair mentor through Engineers without Borders at Lincoln Middle School here in Gainesville. I have also served as community service chair for the Golden Key International Honor Society where we did a Reading day where we all went to the Gainesville Local Library and read to children there.
Hobbies and Interests
- Outdoors, sports, frisbee, flag football, volleyball, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
Drug Release of Chitosan Nanoparticles for Treatment of COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is estimated to become the fifth leading cause of death worldwide by 2020. COPD results in airway constriction due to chronic inflammation of the lung tissue. This inflammatory response is known to be linked to Phosphodiesterase (PDE) activity and its hydrolysis of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) molecules in the immune cells and smooth muscle cells of the lung. PDE-IV represents a target for the treatment of airway inflammatory diseases such as COPD. This researcher plans to create a particle-based, enzyme-responsive theranostic platform in order to (1) create a more effective manner in which pulmonary inflammation and PDE-IV inhibitor activity can be assayed as well as (2) create a targeted delivery system for PDE-IV inhibitors using the same chitosan-acrylic nanoparticles. Chitosan-acrylic hydrogel nanoparticles will be created with molecules of cATP as well as FRET donor-acceptor pairs covalently attached. The cATP will then be enzymatically converted to AMP using PDE’s, resulting in an increase in the total negative charge of the matrix and thus swelling due to increased electrostatic repulsion. This process will be monitored by relating changes in the FRET ratio to the swelling of the hydrogel. Once this enzymatic control is demonstrated, experiments will be performed to create a triggered release of drug from the created nanoparticles. Nanoparticles will be created in a similar fashion as before but rather be subjected to forming Ionic bonds rather than covalent bonds. Drugs will be loaded into the nanoparticle after which the nanoparticle will be induced to collapse and entrap the treated drug. After a prescribed amount of time, an electric field can be induced surrounding the nanoparticle causing the swelling and rupture of the particles due to the Ionic linkage as well as release of drug, which will be monitored using the FRET phenomenon.