Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Loren Jiang Rose Hills

Repulsive-force electrostatic actuators for low-cost, scalable mechanical stimulation of cell cultures

I plan to develop a new meso-scale device for the mechanical stimulation of cell cultures using repulsive-force electrostatic actuators that I have helped fabricate and characterize in prior work. Cells live within a dynamic micromechanical environment, sensing and adapting to external mechanical forces, including tension, compression, fluid shear, and hydrostatic pressure. Basic cellular functions like proliferation and differentiation, as well as many diseases including osteoporosis and atherosclerosis, have been associated with these types of mechanical cues. Because of the complexity of in vivo models, a wide variety of in vitro methodologies have been employed to stimulate cell cultures. Conventional pneumatic and mechanical stimulation systems rely on bulky motors or pumps that limit design scalability. In contrast, RFAs have simple operation, generating forces and displacements (proportional to applied input voltages) at magnitudes within biologically relevant regimes. Moreover, RFAs are easily fabricated and may be designed in scalable biocompatible configurations, which is promising for cell mechanobiology research.

Message To Sponsor

I would like to first reiterate my gratitude for your generous donation. The experience of conducting independent research this summer has left me with a sense of accomplishment in my project as well as eagerness and reassurance for graduate school. I was personally on the fence for a long time whether or not to pursue graduate education. My first undergrad research experience did not go as well as I hoped. My research experience with my current lab, however, has been extremely worthwhile. This summer has given me a lot of insight on the nature of faculty and student relationships. As the project progressed, I felt I learned to better communicate with my advisor and present research findings clearly and concisely. Although I didn't have time to finish everything I wanted, the skills and experiences I've gained have definitely convinced me to pursue graduate school.
Profile image of Loren Jiang
Major: Bioengineering
Mentor: Ron Fearing
Sponsor: Rose Hills Independent
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