Congratulations to our STEM-SI students!

The Chow Lab was extremely fortunate to have a stellar group of STEM-SI researchers in our lab this summer. Huge thank you to their amazing graduate student mentors for training and sharing their knowledge! Special thanks to the STEM-SI Program, Lehigh University, the National Science Foundation (DMR CAREER 1944914), and the Pennsylvania Department of Health for their support and funding. They are presenting their research at STEM-SI Research Day on August 5, 2021.

Learn more about each person and their research project below!

Natalie Condon (Lehigh BIOE ’22)

Natalie’s research focuses on fabricating polymer-based membranes and characterizing their mechanical, optical, and degradation properties. She’s interested in studying how these properties can be altered based on the polymer’s molecular weight and chemistry. Outside the lab she enjoys running with friends, hiking in the Adirondacks, and cooking new foods. Fun fact: She grew up in her mom’s childhood home in Upstate New York. 

Graduate student mentor: John Tolbert

Fenet Demissie (Lehigh IDEAS / BioE ’24)

Fenet’s research focuses on synthesizing growth factor-mimetic peptides and modifying them with bioorthogonal chemistries. Her goal is to attach the peptides to surface of polymer-based scaffolds in the presence of cells during culture. Outside the lab, she enjoys listening to music, podcasts, audiobooks, reading, and watching K-dramas. Fun fact: She learned to part and braid all of her hair without needing a mirror throughout lockdown.

Graduate student mentor: Kelly Seims

Daphna Fertil (Lafayette ChemE ’22)

Daphna’s research is focused on creating large-scale spatially organized 3D-printed scaffolds for in vivo implantation. She is particularly interested in studying how the spatial organization of bioactive peptides affects tissue development. Outside the lab, she enjoys listening to music, working out, eating good food, and watching court shows on YouTube. Fun fact: While in high school, she started a cupcake business that lasted for three years to fund some college expenses.

Graduate student mentor: Paula Camacho

Natasha Hunt (Lehigh BioE ’22)

Natasha’s research focuses on incorporating a protease-sensitive peptide sequence into a polymer backbone to match scaffold degradation to tissue regeneration. She is interested in observing how increasing the number of protease-cleavable sites affects degradation and mechanical properties of 3D scaffolds. Outside of the lab, she enjoys backpacking, traveling, reading, and motorcycling. Fun fact: She is slowly morphing into a plant mom.

Graduate student mentor: Kelly Seims

Sareena Karim (Lehigh BioE ’22)

Sareena’s research involves solvent-cast 3D printing polymers with different solvents. She is characterizing how different solvents affect ink viscosity, scaffold architecture, and mechanical properties. She finds testing the mechanical properties of materials particularly interesting. Outside the lab, she enjoys hanging out with friends and spending time with family. Fun Fact: She also runs a haircare business called Foli-Q.

Graduate student mentor: John Tolbert

Andrew Kitson (Lehigh BioE ’21)

Andrew’s research focuses on the mechanical characterization of 3D-printed polymer scaffolds. both at the fiber-level and scaffold-level as their architecture is changed. He is interested in how altering mechanical properties via architectural changes, such as fiber diameter and pore size, influences cellular differentiation. Outside of the lab, he enjoys reading, working out, and hiking/swimming with his dog Kova. Fun fact: While currently studying Bioengineering, he was previously in nursing school.

Graduate student mentor: Diana Hammerstone

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