Gates Center Summer Internship Program

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By: Emily Thomas, Gates Center Summer Intern

My summer in the Magin Lab as a part of the Gates Summer Internship Program was absolutely spectacular! The mentorship provided by both the graduates students and Dr. Chelsea Magin was exceptional and most definitely helped me grow as a researcher. The Magin Lab members were always willing to answer questions, and their guidance helped me reach a point where I wasn’t just mindlessly following protocols but instead was actively following the vision of the lab with experimental design and implementation.

One the most valuable things I learned was how to translate the “big picture” of a research project into a series of experiments. I came to realize that the final solution is almost always built on the foundation of experiments that verify (or refute) what we expect to happen and preliminary/exploratory experiments that guide us toward the next questions to ask. As an illustration my project focused on 3D-printing blood vessel mimics to model pulmonary hypertension. Specifically, I worked on developing a suitable bioink that met both mechanical and biological requirements. Through a series of tests, I was able to find a range of material formulations that met the elastic modulus and viscosity requirements and supported cell viability and proliferation. These experiments led us to ask more questions about the best way to keep cells alive and thriving in the bioink and served as the groundwork for developing the “big picture” printed vessels that will hopefully model pulmonary hypertension disease progression.

I’m definitely going to miss the Magin Lab, but I know that all that I learned this summer will help me as I finish up my undergraduate degree and (hopefully) go onto a graduate program. I am looking forward to continuing tissue engineering and biomaterials research as I go back to the University of Oklahoma where I am looking at developing hydrogels designed to treat traumatic spinal cord injuries!

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