What drew me to Mechanical Engineering is the broad depth of knowledge that students are empowered with. Looking back, my Bachelor’s degree from the University of South Australia instilled me with a sense that any problem can be solved with the application of simple engineering and collaboration. As such, for my undergraduate final year thesis I developed microfluidic devices in application to gold nanoparticles, my first real taste of micro/nanoengineering. This multidisciplinary project inspired me to pursue further work that would broaden my knowledge of fundamental engineering principles and chemical, biological processes. Hence I decided to pursue further education through a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Utah.
My current project utilizes microfluidics for the creation of nanoscale liposomes. Liposomes are synthetic lipid coated spheres, designed to loosely replicate the membrane structure of living cells. Using our device we can create liposomes of any size and of any lipid composition. We are currently investigating Inverse-BAR (I-BAR) domain proteins. These proteins bind to the negative curvature of a lipid bilayer accessible from within the lumen of a liposome. Using liposomes as model cells allows us to study a variety of factors that can effect the remodeling of the bilayer ultimately giving us a better glimpse of how the protein functions
One of the striking features about living in Salt Lake City is the proximity of the mountains to the university. The Wasatch Mountains offer a number of easy to access hikes while the Uintas offer amazing backpacking trips. I am excited to spend the next several years while in pursuit of my PhD to explore all of the national and state parks in Utah. Furthermore, Banff, Sundance and a number of other major festivals make their way to Utah once a year contributing to the vibrant outdoors scene.
V. Romanov, S. N. Davidoff, A. Miles, D. W. Grainger, B. K. Gale, and B. Brooks, “A Critical Comparison of Protein Microarray Fabrication Technologies,” Analyst, Jan. 2014.