In what was a fast-paced day of science and celebration, both Kim Clarke and Shalini Saxena defended their dissertations last Monday. Kim’s talk (The Fabrication and Study of Stimuli-Responsive Microgel-Based Modular Assemblies) focused on controlling the properties of responsive thin films composed of microgels by spatially separating the assembly-controlling functionalities from the responsive elements via core-shell synthesis. She also presented some nice stuff on the modular assembly of peptides onto microgels as a means to control microgel surface functionality via non-covalent approaches.
Shalini’s talk (Development and Characterization of Tunable Hydrogel Nanoparticle Assemblies) detailed her investigations into “raspberry-like particles” composed of dense (e.g. silica, polystyrene) cores with microgel shells. Through a series of clever approaches, she has been able to construct fairly complex 3-component aggregates, which form through a delicate interplay of microgel adhesion forces and mechanical properties. These heteroaggregates are of potential interest as drug delivery vehicles. The second part of her talk described new approaches for the rapid fabrication and patterning of microgel-based films with tunable mechanical properties. Preliminary studies suggest that such materials are of potential use as biointerfaces to direct cell proliferation.
Since I wasn’t able to get back into town for graduation, we stepped outside for some post-facto hooding (pix below), including an appearance by Emily, who you will recall defended earlier in the semester. Congrats to all three grads!
This is a little late, but it is still definitely worth a post! Last Tuesday, Mark Spears successfully defended his dissertation, entitled “Microgel-Based Coatings and their Use as Self-Healing, Dynamic Substrates for Bioapplications”. With a body of research spanning from non-fouling coatings to self-healing materials, Mark has done a ton of work in some very important areas. I expect big things from him in the future. As is tradition, I joined Mark and his family for a celebratory meal, this time at the Barrelhouse in Tech Square. Not a great photo, but they don’t hire the wait staff for their photography skills. Anyway, congratulations to Mark for delivering an outstanding defense summarizing 4 years worth of outstanding work.
Today we witnessed an outstanding presentation by Emily Herman on the topic of microgel/polyelectrolyte interactions as the final step in her path to a Ph.D. Of course, she defended her dissertation successfully, so we now get to call her Dr. Herman, which for some reason sounds like a ’70’s TV hospital drama to me. We celebrated the event with an awesome meal at the Cuban Diner with Emily and her family – well worth the trip back up to Marietta, to be sure. Thanks to Jose for his hospitality!
The next step for Emily is just across the biotech quad to some incubator space in the basement of the Environmental Science and Technology building. There she will be doing some top-secret research for a brand new company (she is employee #4, I think) that is sure to revolutionize our daily lives in a truly profound way. Stay tuned for more on that. In the meantime, Congratulations, Emily!
In what might be the final Lyon Group dinner ever (wow), we ventured out to Mellow Mushroom to wish Bob good luck in his next position. He is off to UNC-Chapel Hill to work with Sergei Sheiko on TBDA (To Be Determined Awesomeness). We are all sad to see Bob leave so soon after his return, but Prof. Lyon’s imminent departure from GT meant that it was time to seek greener pastures. We wish Bob the best of luck – there is no doubt he will continue to be a spectacular scholar, colleague, and friend.
from left to right: Anabel Liyen, Caroline, Haylee, Kim, Emily, Purva, Mark, Ashley, Nicole, Shalini, Dr. Lyon, Bob, and Keith (Kabir ditched us…)
This week Xiaobo (Bob) Hu returned to the group, this time as a postdoctoral scholar. Bob previously spent two years in the group as part of a Ph.D. exchange with his home institution (South China University of Technology). Now, after spending some time working in industry, he is back in the states to work on microgels. We are glad to have him back in the fold – time for karaoke…
Today we learned that Nicole Welsch has been awarded a 2-year fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG). Her proposed work, “Engineering of fibrin-specific biocompatible microgels for the use as hemostatic agents”, will help us to continue our growth in the area of extracellular-matrix derived materials. Congrats!
When it rains, it pours – another group member is moving on. Yesterday saw Grant Hendrickson give an outstanding presentation of a small slice of his research on the occasion of his Ph.D. defense. During his time in the group, Grant worked on an incredible array of topics, including microlenses, emulsions (Pickering and traditional), resistive pulse analysis, and nanopore translocation. His breadth of experience and tremendous leadership qualities suggest that he will continue to be very successful, wherever he ends up next. Stay tuned for news of his next stop, as he considers his options over the next few months.
Last month, Jeff Gaulding successfully (and brilliantly) defended his dissertation. His talk was an outstanding tour through the different synthetic approaches he has taken in order to increase the versatility and functionality of hydrogel microparticles. With today being his last day at GT, we all wish him luck as he moves on to greener pastures.
Luckily for us, we will still be able to call on him for his wisdom if we are ever in a bind. He isn’t straying too far from us, as he is moving on to 4P Therapeutics in Norcross where he will be working on technologies for transdermal drug delivery. They are getting a talented scientist who knows how to navigate research in an interdisciplinary, team-based environment. They are fortunate to have attracted him there.
From everyone in the group – best of luck, Dr. Gaulding!
This coming Friday is Alicia’s last day with the group. We have been very fortunate to work with her – she brought a fantastic attitude to a job that probably got a bit frustrating at times. Hopefully we made her job a bit easier by being a generally friendly and low-maintenance group!
Soon she will be moving back to Michigan where she won’t have to deal with our lovely triple-digit temperatures here in Atlanta. To wish her a fond farewell, we went to lunch at The Real Chow Baby (turning into a group favorite). The pix after the jump are evidence of our gluttony.
This is a bit overdue, but better late than never. Congratulations to Dr. Mike Smith, who successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation a few weeks back. Mike is off to bigger and better things with Merck. Good luck!
Hiro has been awarded a JSPS Postdoctral Fellowship for Research Abroad. This is a two year fellowship that will allow him to greatly expand on his work using microgels in bioengineering applications. Congrats!