Six Doctoral Theses Defended in April

April 30, 2019
images of 6 PhD students

Drs. Mark Scimone, Alejandro Pando, Francis Cui, Nick Kaiser, Bethany Almeida, & Shashank Shukla (clockwise from top left)

student presenting his thesis

Shashank Shukla presents his PhD work.

student presenting her thesis

Bethany Almeida presents her PhD work.

student presenting his thesis

Nick Kaiser presents his PhD work.

Six students defended their PhD theses in April. They will receive their doctoral degrees on May 26th along with Thomas Valentin and Bryan Sutermaster who defended earlier in the academic year. Congratulations to all of the new PhDs!

Mark Scimone
Franck Lab

Biomechanics of Traumatic Brain Injury In Vitro and the Neuroprotective Effects of Mild Hypothermia Post-Injury

Mark Scimone joined Christian Franck's lab in 2013 as a Master's student in Biomedical Engineering and joined the PhD program the following year. Mark's research focused on the modeling of hypothermic treatment for traumatic brain injury, and his knowledge was indispensable to the foundational TBI work of the Franck Lab. He is a careful experimentalist with a consistent, even-keeled approach to research. Mark is not only an exceptional scientist but a dear friend and mentor.  Highlights of Mark's time in the Franck Lab include: winning intramural softball, adopting a dog/luck dragon, playing "La Bamba" on repeat during dissections, and keeping the lab up to date on internet culture.  Mark is well loved by his peers in the Franck Lab, offering wisdom and levity to any situation, and he will be missed. – Lauren Hazlett & Harry Cramer

Alejandro Pando
Fast Lab

Impact of Alloreactivity and Extracellular Vesicles on Anti-Leukemic Responses

Alejandro Pando joined the BME PhD program in 2014 as a Presidential Fellow. He completed his thesis in Loren Fast’s lab publishing articles in Experimental Hematology and Oncology and Leukemia Research along the way.

Francis Cui
Tripathi Lab

Micro- and Meso-fluidics for Automated Biomedical Sample Preparation

Frank has been a great leader in the lab and a mentor to both of us as we started our Ph.D. careers. He is always willing to train us on new equipment or techniques as well as bounce back creative ideas about any research topic. He is not selfish with his time when it comes to helping other labmates and has made contributions to many different projects, always adapting quickly and learning whatever he needs to do the best job possible. He will be missed! – Kiara Lee & Lindsay Schneider

Shashank Shukla
Shukla Lab

Investigating Tunable and Multifunctional Antimicrobial Gellan Hydrogels for Infection Treatment and Diagnosis

Shashank worked on the design and development of tunable antibiotic loaded gellan hydrogels for the treatment of topical infections. Shashank has been great to work with in the lab, always helping and supporting others with a positive-charged attitude. Truly, the divalent cation that brought us together in lab. He’s a versatile and multifunctional dendrimer that will find a position in any field! Best of luck with your future work, you will be missed! – Shukla Lab

Shashank has been an amazing mentor to me these past two years in the Shukla Lab. He is an incredible researcher and teacher and he has taught me so much about the fields of biomaterials and drug delivery. I've been very lucky to train under him and I cannot wait to see all of the extraordinary things he does next! – Hannah Safford ‘19

Bethany Almeida
Shukla Lab

Using Biomaterials to Control the Physical and Chemical Properties of the Mesenchymal Stem Cell Microenvironment

Bethany worked on chemical and physical cues for stem cell differentiation. Her work dealt with polymeric layers on nanoparticles, just like the layers of cake she brought in! As one of the original lab members, Bethany provided differentiative guidance to all that joined the lab, much like her alkanethiols guided stem cells to differentiate. She was proficient in lab instruments and always willing to teach others. An intelligent goldsmith that carefully designed, polished and produced each piece of work!  There’s no problem too complex that you won’t be able to solve. We will miss you! – Shukla Lab

Nicholas Kaiser
Coulombe Lab

A Tunable Collagen Microfiber Platform for Engineered Cardiac Tissue

Nick’s research project focused on fabricating wetspun collagen microfibers to direct engineered cardiac tissue alignment and mimic the structure of the native heart. His work has formed a solid foundation for ongoing research in the Coulombe Lab to examine the mechanical properties and vascularization capabilities of engineered heart tissue. He is a fearless scientist who has developed numerous creative and unique solutions to biofabrication issues in tissue engineering. Nick has been an incredible mentor, leader, food-advisor, beer-master, glue-guru, and friend most of all, and we wish him all the best. – Rajeev Kant