Faculty Highlight

Syracuse University Part of Collaborative Team Researching Preventing Infections in Engineered Tissue and Implantable Devices

Advancements in biomedical devices such as knee and hip implants, heart valves, pacemakers, dental implants, stents, and catheters have improved quality of life for patients worldwide. These devices, however, introduce foreign material into a patient and are prone to chronic infections. Through a new grant, a cross-disciplinary group of experts will collaborate to develop new approaches to prevent device-associated infections and enhance the use of these implants.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $3.6 million grant to a team of researchers from five universities in a project titled “Collaborative Research: Growing Convergence Research: Infection-Resisting Resorbable Scaffolds for Engineering Human Tissue.” Syracuse University researchers teamed up with partners at Stevens Institute of Technology, Binghamton University, City College of New York, and the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School.

The project will address the development of healthy tissue and mitigate the risk of infection in implantable devices as new biomaterials are being developed to replace failed, damaged, or defective body parts. 

The Syracuse University team is led by Shikha Nangia, Associate Professor of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering, and Dacheng Ren, Associate Dean of Research, College of Engineering and Computer Science and Stevenson Endowed Professor of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering. 

“The novelty of this project is the cross-disciplinary convergence of microbiology, polymer science, computational biochemistry, and biomaterials science,” said Nangia.

Another aspect of the project is to train the next generation in infection control.

“The Ph.D. and undergraduate students in the research labs will travel to partner institutions during summer and gain immersive research experience in a new lab to broaden their expertise,” Nangia added.  “I am very excited about this opportunity.”

“This project team includes researchers from five institutions, who have been working together over the past several years. It is a great example of how researchers from different disciplines can work together to solve challenging problems through convergence science,” said Ren.

Lights, Camera…Cybersecurity!

Electrical engineering and computer science professor Kevin Du wanted to up the production value of the cybersecurity instruction videos he has been posting to YouTube and decided to construct a studio inside his lab space.

“I used to have one in home at my basement but that one has a problem because my family just walked around,” said Du. “So I decided I’m just going to build one in the corner of the lab.”

Biomedical and Chemical Engineering Professor Shikha Nangia Selected as a Rising Star by the American Chemical Society

Biomedical and chemical engineering Professor Shikha Nangia has been selected as a recipient of the American Chemical Society’s Women Chemist Committee (WCC) 2022 Rising Star Award. The award recognizes nine women scientists who have demonstrated excellence in the scientific enterprise and outstanding promise for contributions to their respective fields.

Nangia will receive her award and present her recent research on the blood-brain barrier at the 263rd National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in March of 2022.

“Shikha is an amazing researcher and colleague. Her group’s computational work to understand the architecture of the blood-brain barrier is advancing our fundamental understanding of its permeability and has the potential to lead to advances in drug delivery to the brain,” said biomedical and chemical engineering Department Chair Juile Hasenwinkel. “The department is very happy and proud to see her cutting edge work recognized with this award.”

“This is a well-deserved honor for Shikha. We have known she was a rising star for a while here at Syracuse University and I am very happy to see her get this recognition from the American Chemical Society,” said College of Engineering and Computer Science Dean J. Cole Smith.

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Professor Farzana Rahman Awarded ExploreCSR 2020 Grant by Google to Introduce and Engage Underrepresented Students in Computing Research

Electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) Professor Farzana Rahman received a 2020 Google exploreCSR award to fund the development of an undergraduate student engagement workshop program, Research Exposure in Socially Relevant Computing (RESORC).

The RESORC program will provide research opportunities to undergraduate students from Syracuse University and nearby institutions targeting populations underrepresented in computing, including Latinx, African American, American Indian or Indigenous and LGBTQIA+ students.

According Rahman, the population of students pursuing CS and computing degrees is not representative of the diversity of people in the U.S., with women and other groups persistently underrepresented. Additionally, research has shown that computing research pipeline is not diverse since women and underrepresented students face many barriers like lack of self-confidence, stereotype threat, and lack of women role models. There is also lack of knowledge regarding research opportunities and the potential benefit of research careers. Many unrepresented students are never exposed to research due to coming from institutions with limited research capabilities. The intersectionality of these students also places more structural barriers for them to explore anything other than a regular degree. RESORC aims to diversify the Ph.D. pipeline through peer-assisted, team-based research exposure that places special emphasis on mentoring women.

The primary objectives of this workshop are to –

  • Introduce women students to graduate education and research career opportunities.
  • Share best practices and resources to conduct research.
  • Support students to become stronger candidates for doctoral programs.
  • Create a network of future women scientists in the area of computing.

The RESORC experience will expose participants to research in socially relevant computing though close mentoring provided by the graduate students of the SU EECS department. These graduate mentors will attend a training session informed by best practices for mentoring underrepresented students by NCWIT.

The workshop will use Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) that will help to influence the career ambitions and choices of participants in computing through guided research exploration. It will also use a Peer-Assisted Team Research (PATR) model that will involve participants in research experiences within teams with a dedicated graduate mentor’s supervision. PATR will improve student’s scientific reasoning abilities, research self-efficacy, and sense of belonging in computing.

“I expect that this experience will enable our Ph.D. student volunteers to be better, more inclusive mentors as they pursue their own careers,” said Rahman.

After an initial proof-of-concept year, Rahman hopes to sustain and expand RESORC to reach more students at Syracuse University and nearby other institutions in the area.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University Webinar

A discussion between the Executive Director of the Blackstone LaunchPad, Linda Dickerson Hartsock, and aerospace engineering and Invent@SU alumna Kayla Simon ’19 about the many ways Syracuse University supports students in designing, prototyping and pitching their new businesses.

Biomedical and Chemical Engineering Faculty Profile: Mary Beth Monroe

Name: Mary Beth Monroe

Title: Assistant Professor

Research Topics:

  • Shape memory polymer foam hemostats for hemorrhage control in gunshot wounds
  • Antimicrobial shape memory polymer hydrogels for Crohn’s fistula treatment
  • Shape memory polymer hydrogel chronic wound dressings

Why did you chose to be part of the Orange Family?

I was drawn to BMCE at SU in large part because of the people. My colleagues are easy to talk with, fun, and supportive of me as a researcher, teacher, and human. The faculty in BMCE are well-balanced; they do great research and teaching while maintaining interesting hobbies and spending time with their families.

I also love the lab space within the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute. It is the perfect place to carry out my research on shape memory polymer-based biomaterials.

Finally, Syracuse is such a great place to live. As a native Texan, I think that the snow is beautiful, and winter activities are really fun. I also enjoy having distinct seasons. There are so many amazing parks, waterfalls, and activities in the area that allow us to explore outside year-round.

What is you advice for incoming freshman?

Get to know your professors! As I mentioned above, the BMCE faculty are interesting and fun, and we are all here because we love students. Show up to office hours, get involved in student organizations, and do undergraduate research (it’s never too early to join a research lab!) so that you can get to know us. It will make you more successful in college and as you choose a long-term career.

Biomedical and Chemical Engineering Faculty Profile – Viktor J. Cybulskis

Name: Viktor J. Cybulskis

Title: Assistant Professor of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering

Research Topics: Heterogeneous Catalysis, Zeolite Synthesis, Kinetics and Reaction Mechanisms, Chemicals Production and Environmental Remediation

Why you chose to be part of the Orange Family? From my very first interactions with Syracuse faculty, staff, and students I felt welcomed and like a valued member of the Orange community. The supportive culture, contagious energy, and exciting campus initiatives, such as the cross-disciplinary research clusters, make Syracuse the ideal place to launch a career as a new faculty member.

What advice do you have for incoming freshman? Be like a sponge and soak up as much as you can from your experiences here. Involve yourself beyond the classroom by getting to know your professors and learning about the latest advancements in your field of study. You never know what areas or topics may resonate with you and spark your interests for a lifetime to come.