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Graduate Student Profile
Pamela Fuller

Andrew Dias

Hometown: Mohegan Lake, NY, USA
Undergraduate Study: University of Wisconsin-Madison, B.S. Biomedical Engineering, 2010
Graduate Study:  Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, M.S. Biomedical Engineering, 2012
Degree(s) Sought: Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Faculty Advisor: David Corr
Expected year of graduation: 2015

Describe your graduate research and its purpose/applications.

I’m interested in studying the effects of bio-printing, via laser direct-write, on stem cell differentiation. I would like to discover whether bio-printing cells in specific configurations can help direct cells to desired fates. Although this research may have an impact on generating many different types of cells, I am investigating the capacity to direct cell fate to brown adipocytes (brown fat), a type of tissue that has garnered interest in recent years because it can burn energy from glucose as heat instead of storing it as fat. The applications of my research are twofold. First, insight about stem cell differentiation may be useful in generating desired cells for tissue engineering or drug testing. Second, being able to generate brown adipocytes may have future applications in treating conditions like diabetes and obesity. The entire pipeline of my research project is important to me, because I believe stem cells will be important in therapeutics and regenerative medicine in the coming years, and brown adipocytes look like they may be useful as tissue engineering tools or models for maintaining energy balance.

What are your hobbies and interests?

I like playing Ultimate Frisbee, tennis, and racquetball to stay active, and I also like to play the saxophone, read, and watch television. I enjoy teaching kids about science and engineering, and hope to be able to continue to do that when I’m no longer in a university setting.

What made you decide to attend Rensselaer?

When I enrolled at Rensselaer, I knew that I wanted to research stem cells and their use in tissue engineering. I was given the opportunity to work in the laboratory of Dr. David Corr using a cell printing technology called laser direct-write (LDW). I thought that cell printing sounded like a new and exciting approach for working with stem cells, and I hoped that this novel research would enable me to become an expert in bio-printing, stem cells, and tissue engineering. The friendliness of the students, the research-oriented atmosphere, collaborative opportunities in the Capital Region, and the world-class research facilities at Rensselaer made me even more excited to enroll and pursue the research in which I was interested.

What are some benefits of being part of the Graduate Community at Rensselaer?

Students and faculty at Rensselaer are all approachable and willing to help, because everyone wants everyone else to be successful. I feel very comfortable asking another student for advice with my research or for help with lab equipment, or even grabbing a beer and watching a game. People are doing really exciting research at Rensselaer.  Being part of this community enables me to see cutting edge research being carried out within my field and other fields and motivates me to push myself.

What would you tell a prospective student about choosing Rensselaer?

You should find a research project that you find exciting – you will be working on this for the next 4-5 years of your life! This is a big investment, but a Ph.D. may enable you to have a rewarding and fulfilling career where you are always at the cutting edge. If Rensselaer presents an opportunity for you to pursue research you’re interested in, definitely seize the opportunity, and you will find yourself in a community that will help you make the most out of your time here.

What are your plans following graduation?

I would like to work in industrial research, and I am interested in developing tissue engineering tools that can be applied to regenerative medicine.

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