Sean Irby

Mentor: Dr. Josephine Allen
College of Engineering
 
"As soon as I started at the University of Florida, I wanted to start applying my education towards real-world problems right away. I feel an enormous debt to society for the opportunities that have been provided to me, and materials research is a niche I believe I can fill to pass along an even better world to our next generations. Of my college experience's many aspects, doing research in Dr. Allen's lab is the thing I am most grateful for. "

Major

Materials Science and Engineering

Minor

Physics

Research Interests

  • Processing of nanocomposites, nanosystems development
  • In-vivo tissue engineering scaffolds
  • Textiles, electrospun materials, structural carbon nanotube applications

Academic Awards

  • Robert David Adamson Scholarship

Organizations

  • Society for Biomaterials
  • YES+ Gators

Volunteer

  • Gold Coast Greyhound Adoptions
  • Art of Living Foundation

Hobbies and Interests

  • Personal and Professional Development
  • Yoga & Meditation
  • Writing Music

Research Description

Electrospun Poly(diol-citrate) Biomaterials for Cell Scaffolds

The holy grail of tissue engineering for the past several decades is the development of in-vivo tissue scaffolds. These scaffolds could be implanted into a patient, and eventually replaced by healthy tissue by guiding the body's regenerative capabilities. This would be a particularly good alternative to the use of vascular grafts, which have a high failure rate and produce other complications such as thrombosis. One key element in the scaffold design is to mimic a cell's natural environment, a fibrous protein matrix. Another key element is that their materials are both biocompatible, and have a suitable biodegradation time-frame for the type tissue to be grown. Electrospinning is a viable option for processing materials into a fibrous form similar to the body's protein matrix, but few electrospinnable polymers exhibit both biocompatibility/biodegradability and suitable mechanical properties that resemble a native cell matrix. Poly(diol-citrates) are a promising cell scaffold material due to their biocompatibility, tunable degradation time-frames, and mechanical properties similar to native cell matrix. Furthermore, poly(diol-citrates) might be well suited for vascular tissue engineering due to their elastic nature and anti-thrombogenic properties. However, several obstacles exist in processing these polymers by electrospinning such as their crosslinked structure and gel-like consistency in a prepolymer form at room temperature. There is a need in vascular tissue engineering for new methods to incorporate poly(diol-citrates) into electrospun materials because of their biocompatibility and tunable mechanical properties. My research project focuses on novel processing methods for this purpose, as well as characterizing a new class of materials that are now possible to synthesize because of them. I intend to show that poly(diol-citrates) can be processed/incorporated into an electrospun matrix, and that these new materials have highly tunable mechanical and biological properties.