2021 Merit Award for Research
A senior biological engineering major, Juhi Mancha is committed to the potential and possibility of research.
Working in the Handa Biomaterials Research Lab for three years, Mancha has conducted highly interdisciplinary and translational research aimed at developing biocompatible coatings for medical devices that prevent infection and clotting. Mancha's work has contributed to two studies published in high-profile journals, including ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering Journal.
"The world of research shaped my understanding of how to solve complex real world problems with an open-ended solution," said Mancha. "Past the skillset I built, research was my creative outlet during college and it became the place I went to ask ‘why’."
Mancha started exploring research opportunities her freshman year at UGA. After an upperclassman gave her a tour of the lab where he worked, Mancha said she felt like she found her calling.
"I fell in love with the potential and possibility research holds. I learned about artificial organs, tissue engineering, microfluidic devices, and the entire world of innovation. I understood then that we, as a society, were working on something that would drastically change the world we live in tomorrow. And I knew I wanted to be a part of that in any way I could," said Mancha.
Mancha was a two-term receipt of the UGA Center for Undergraduate Research (CURO) assistantship stipend. She also earned a competitive summer internship with the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. During the REU, she served as a project co-lead on research related to the development of affordable and biodegradable antibacterial materials used to dress burn wounds and accelerate the healing process.
"Juhi is an exceptional and hard-working researcher that will certainly continue to grow as a professional," said Hitesh Handa, an associate professor and leader of the Handa Biomaterials Research Lab. "She always finds ways to better herself as a research and a student, whether it be reading one extra research paper, perfecting a procedure, or encouraging her fellow researchers."