- Advisor: Javier Read de Alaniz
- Department: Chemistry and Biochemistry
- Campus: UCSB
- BioPACIFIC MIP Research: SET 3 - Functional Biomimics
What is your research focus?
My research involves the application of Diels–Alder (DA) chemistries in soft materials. Notably, I have developed a mild, DA-based photo-patterning platform by incorporating photo-labile cyclopentadienone–norbornadiene (CPD–NBD) adducts within materials that release a highly reactive diene upon light irradiation. This diene readily reacts with maleimide, a dienophile that is commercially available attached to a variety of biologically relevant small molecules, proteins, and polymers. Through a collaboration with the Maxwell Z. Wilson lab that was funded by the BioPACIFIC MIP we have been able to demonstrate this platform to readily pattern fluorescent dyes and growth factors in traditional cell culturing matrices such as collagen, fibronectin, laminin and Matrigel. I have also been working to improve the applicability of this platform by preparing water soluble CPD–NBD derivatives for improved compatibility with aqueous functionalization of protein matrices and polysaccharide biopolymers, as well as copolymerization in synthetic hydrogels and commercial bioinks. My development of spatially controlled chemistries within hydrogels is well-aligned with the Functional Biomimics SET 3, as the end-goal of this photopatterning platform is in the spatial administration of biochemical cues within hydrogels for cell culture providing a route to mimic the complex biochemical heterogeneity of natural tissues. Additionally, I am interested in other routes of advancing biomaterial design through DA chemistry and most recently I have investigated the effects of molecular DA mechanochemistry on bulk hydrogel properties and am intrigued as to whether mechanochemistry can be further exploited in the design of biomimetic materials.
What excites you about NSF BioPACIFIC MIP?
I have enjoyed my participation in the first BioPACIFIC MIP Fellows cohort, as it has enabled collaborations that expanded the utility of my research, connected me with a network of peers across the UCSB and UCLA campuses, and provided wonderful educational outreach opportunities. I hope to continue in the BioPACIFIC MIP Fellows program as I am particularly excited about the proposed SETs. In comparison to the large meetings from the first year, I think these smaller more specialized groups will better initiate collaborations and mentorship from BioPACIFIC MIP faculty and allow for more valuable feedback on research from researchers in directly related fields. Additionally, the new career development and networking opportunities made available through BioPACIFIC MIP this year will provide me tools to succeed in my future. As I approach the end of my PhD studies, I hope that additional career guidance and availability of travel grants to attend conferences will aid in my efforts to secure a postdoctoral position and prepare me for my future research career.