2014 REU Danna Nozik Takes 1st Place at AIChE Conference

2014 REU Danna Nozik Takes 1st Place at AIChE Conference

Danna Nozik - Transparent
Dana Nozik

Congratulations to 2014 REU Danna Nozik.  Danna won first place at the 2014  AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) poster competition in the category of Materials Engineering and Sciences.  We are exremely proud of Danna for such fine job.  Below is Danna’s abstract.

ABSTRACT:  There is a huge demand for small-diameter vascular grafts, as the majority of vascular disease cases involve small-caliber blood vessels. Recently, electrospinning has gained attention as a valuable technique for the fabrication of scaffolds for blood vessel engineering, as electrospinning produces nanofibers that closely approximate the structure of native extracellular matrix (ECM).

Accordingly, electrospun scaffolds were fabricated in a 3D tubular structure from a blend of the synthetic polymers, viscoelastic and durable polycaprolactone (PCL) and relatively fast-degrading shape memory poliglecaprone (PGC). The scaffolds were coated with a physiological biomatrix, HuBiogelTM. The biohybrid graft was found to exhibit mechanical properties comparable to those of native blood vessels, and the HuBiogelTM coating imparted bioactivity. The coating was crosslinked using EDC and the natural crosslinker genipin (Gp) to improve its stability in physiological conditions. This study evaluated the effects of EDC- and Gp-crosslinking on the scaffold mechanical, structural, and morphological properties. Additionally, coating stability was studied to assure the presence of collagenous biomatrix on the scaffold for effective cell-matrix interactions.

Mechanical testing showed little difference between EDC- and Gp-crosslinked scaffolds; both retained mechanical properties in the range of native human arteries (tensile strength 1-2 MPa, tensile modulus 9-12 MPa). SEM imaging revealed that while crosslinking with EDC resulted in an increase in fiber diameter compared to uncrosslinked scaffolds, Gp-crosslinking did not affect fiber diameter; the majority of fibers in EDC and Gp-crosslinked scaffolds had diameters ranging from approximately 0.9 – 1.4 microns and 0.7 – 1.2 microns, respectively. This is in the upper range of fiber diameters in native extracellular matrix. Coating stability studies using picrosirius red (PSR) stain showed that EDC-crosslinked scaffolds were more effective than Gp-crosslinked scaffolds in enhancing the stability of the biomatrix coating.

RET Keshia Williams Gets Creative With Fund Raising

RET Keshia Williams Gets Creative With Fund Raising

Keshia Williams
Keshia Williams

2014 RET Keshia Williams went through the website DonorChoose.org to design a project for her AP Biology classroom.  DonorsChoose.org is a US based 501 nonprofit organization that allows individuals to donate directly to public school classroom projects.  The website was designed by teacher, Charles Best. Williams says that given that technology is so influential in the field of science and while preparing her students for college and science related careers, she decided to design a project titled “Flipping Science with Technology.”  This school term, she is implementing the “flipped classroom” with her Advanced Placement Biology class, which means that she inverts traditional teaching methods, delivering some of the instruction online outside the classroom and moving homework into the classroom.

She uses web 2.0 tools in class to aid in meeting the needs of diverse learning styles.  Therefore, the use of tablets requested through her DonorChoose.org project will allow her to truly differentiate instruction among her students.  After designing the project (i.e. purpose, goals, and its relation to discipline) it had to go through review from the website. After being approved, she solicited for donations via email to family, friends, community, leaders, etc. Within the first seven days, if the persons donating includes the special “spark” code in their donation, the funds are matched up to $100.

Ms. Williams project was funded within 3 days via the DonorsChoose.org website.  Congratulations to Ms. Williams

More News about Ms. Williams:  APTV Capitol Journal interviews 2014 RET Keshia Williams

2007 NSF REU Taoreed “Larry” Lawal is back in the News

2007 NSF REU Taoreed  “Larry” Lawal is back in the News

Lawal Updated 2013 photo Southern Education Desk, a consortium of public media stations in AL, GA, LA, MS and TN aired Money Tight, Scientist Turn to “Crowdfunding” Research . The broadcast highlighted Larry Lawal’s HealthFundit as a source of this discussoin.  You can also check out WBHM’s local story.


REU Larry Lawal entered the Alabama Launchpad Competition

Larry Lawal entered the Alabama Launchpad  Competition

Lawal Updated 2013 photoLarry Lawal entered the Alabama Launchpad startup business competition and out of 27 contestants, he made the cut to the Top 10.  The Top 10 will be considered for prizes totaling $100,000.  Per al.com, “Healthfundit: is the only peer-reviewed, subscription-based crowd funding portal for health research and biotechnology at academic institutions.   Team leader is Larry Lawal. Based in Birmingham.”

Each contestant will present their plans to a panel of judges on July 12, 2013.  We wish Larry good luck and we’re certainly proud of this accomplishment.

Crowdfunding Panel Discussion

On June 13, 2013, Larry served on a panel to discuss “Crowd-funding” which is essentially a network of people that pool their money together to support the ventures of members of the network.  Larry was idea for this panel given his recent startup:  Healthfundit.  We wish Larry continued success in his efforts to develop and grow his business.

2012:  Congratulations to Taoreed “Larry” Lawal for being the recipient of the 2012 Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award.  Larry continues to impress with his diligence in seeking opportunities that will serve the research community well.

HealthFundit website will not launch until November 2013, but you can “like” it Facebook and follow on Twitter.

2012 REU Aditi Naik Invited to National Collegiate Conference

Congratulations to Aditi Naik

Aditi Naik
Aditi Naik

Aditi Naik, a participant in our 2012 REU program, has been invited by the Harvard College Undergraduate Research Association to attend the National Collegiate Research Conference 2013.  The conference will be held January 24-26, 2013 at Harvard University.  Aditi was selected from a pool of approximately 400 applicants. The conference’s overall mission is one of promoting interdisciplinary research among Harvard undergraduates.  The NCRC’s expanded reach offers students like Aditi tremendous opportunities to network with peers, educators and industry professionals.  Aditi will showcase her REU research by presenting a poster and I am sure she’ll be a shining example for the REU program.

Congratulations Aditi Naik.