I recently defended my Ph.D. at Virginia Tech in Materials Science & Engineering. My research is focused on the use of Additive Manufacturing (often referred to as 3D Printing) as a means of creating complex tissue scaffolds from biocompatible photopolymers. I also help develop new high-performance photopolymers for stereolithography. I am co-advised by Dr. Abby Whittington, who specializes in polymers and Regenerative Medicine, and Dr. Christopher B. Williams, an expert in Additive Manufacturing and director of the DREAMS Lab at VT.
My research is centered at the intersection of materials, machines, and chemistry for additive manufacturing (3D printing) of tissue scaffolds. At Virginia Tech, I designed and fabricated new vat photopolymerization (stereolithography) systems with advanced functionalities and developed resins for these systems. This resulted in the development of a new resin for tissue scaffold fabrication that enhances cell adhesion and growth while also permitting very high printing resolution. Mammalian cells were cultured on scaffolds printed from this resin to validate its use as a suitable scaffolding material as well as to understand how a scaffold’s pore size affects cell growth and proliferation. I also successfully controlled the spatial attachment and growth of cells in 3D by fabricating multi-material scaffolds, a technique that may prove useful in guiding tissue development and the generation of vasculature.
My work extends beyond fabricating tissue scaffolds and through innovations in resin composition, synthetic photopolymers, and new machines, I have 3D printed polyimides (e.g., Kapton), ionic liquids, biodegradable polyesters, natural polymers, ceramics, and composites.
I have mentored more than 20 undergraduates participating in design teams or working in the lab as research assistants on projects ranging from machine building to cell culture. I serve as the lab’s safety officer and am responsible for maintain safe working conditions and ensuring that all lab members are appropriately trained.