Kelsey Crannell

Kelsey Crannell
Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Andrew
College of Engineering
"I decided to get involved with research because I wanted to gain more experience in Materials Science and Engineering and to determine which aspect of MSE I want to pursue."


Materials Science and Engineering



Research Interests

  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers

Academic Awards

  • Dean's List
  • College of Engineering Snelling Scholarship
  • Rhines and Tarr Scholarship
  • Robert D. Adamson Scholarship


  • Phi Sigma Rho Engineering Society
  • Society of Biomaterials


  • N/A

Hobbies and Interests

  • Boating
  • Going to the Beach
  • Tennis
  • Soccer

Research Description

Polymer-based Nanocomposite for the Early Detection of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide; however, if lung cancer is detected at an early stage, prior to metastasis, it is a treatable, if not curable disease. Current methods for the diagnosis of lung cancer are highly invasive and unreliable. This project proposes a non-invasive, rapid and early detection method for lung cancer. A hydrogel-based nanocomposite, made of polymer with an incorporated peptide, will encapsulate luminescent silicon nanoparticles. In the presence of MMP-9, a protease that is overexpressed by cancerous cells, the peptide will cleave and release the nanoparticles, which can be detected when released from the body. Concentrations of the polymer with DI water are varied to obtain initial degradation profiles without the presence of MMP-9 to ensure the nanoparticles remain encapsulated in the hydrogel. These profiles are correlated with physical properties of the hydrogel, including crosslink density and mesh size. In addition, these properties and degradation profiles are compared to hydrogels with incorporated peptide. Understanding the comparison between the hydrogel’s physical properties and degradation rates will allow the fabrication of gels with desired properties.