REU student profile: Alexa Wnorowski

Alexa Wnorowski

Alexa Wnorowski

Alexa Wnorowski is a rising senior in Biological Engineering studying at Cornell University. Her summer REU at Johns Hopkins University involved studying the blood brain barrier in the materials science and engineering laboratory of Peter Searson. Searson directs the Institute for NanoBioTechnology that hosts the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).

“The goal is to figure out how to move drugs across this tight junction of cells that protects the brain,” Alexa explained. Alexa used a four-channel microfluidic device fabricated in the Searson lab.

“Each channel has a slightly different shear stress because it has a slightly different height,” she explained. “We seed a culture of cells at the bottom of the channel and let them grow so that they are confluent. Then we run media through the device and we see how the different shear stresses affects proliferation of the cells.”

Although she conducted research before, Alexa said she had never worked with microfluidic devices before. She said to gain a broader perspective on research, it’s important to work in several different laboratories. “Every lab is run in different ways and have very different atmospheres, “ she said. “This experience has shown me how research in conducted in different labs.”

Alexa’s goal is to earn a PhD in biomedical engineering.

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Seminar on bioinspired micropatterned surfaces

The Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute hosts the talk, “Bioinspired Micropatterned Surfaces with Switchable Functionality” with speaker Eduard Arzt, Scientific Director of the Leibniz Institute for New Materials and Department of Materials Science, Saarland University (Germany) on Wednesday, June 18 at 11 a.m. in B17 Hackerman Hall.

Eduard Arzt

Eduard Arzt

Abstract: New surfaces and coatings can drastically improve the properties and applicability of materials. At INM, we develop  and investigate new micro- and nanopatterned surfaces for diverse functionalities: low friction, adhesion, corrosion protection, anti-reflection, electric storage and combinations of these. Such surfaces either exhibit new chemistries or new topographies, sometimes on different hierarchical levels. This talk will first summarize some of our developments by bridging the scientific principles with existing or emerging applications. It will then focus on micropatterning of surfaces for novel adhesive functionalities: the exploitation of judiciously designed surface protrusions, “fibrils” and other features at the micron scale – as insects, spiders and geckos – to create fundamentally new degrees of freedom for mechanical and other surface functions. Our extensive research in this area has recently led to the following results: i)design of active surfaces that exploit a transition from an adhesive to non-adhesive state, ii) first implementation in active pick-and-place systems, and iii) our recent developments in producing functional surfaces for interaction with soft materials, such as human skin. Our current emphasis is on controlling adhesion and friction, which is of great potential interest in microfabrication, construction industry, and sports equipment. Such developments require modeling and simulation activities which help understand the micromechanics of patterned adhesion and identify optimum parameters in a vast parameter space.

This talk is free and open to the Hopkins community. Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBiotechnology supports this event.