REU Spotlight: Natalie Crutchfield
University of Central Florida
Year in school
Materials Science Engineering
What type of research are you conducting during your REU?
"Our lab works at the interface of chemistry, materials science, bioengineering, microbiology, and animal models with the goal of advancing this interdisciplinary research from benchtop to bedside. The development of new biomaterials and therapeutic devices that promote biocompatibility and resist infection is a significant area of research within the biomedical field. One approach is to design materials with therapeutic nitric oxide (NO) delivery using various chemical release/generation mechanisms. Nitric oxide is an endogenous gas radical produced from L-arginine by NO synthase enzymes and has important biological roles including acting as an antiplatelet, antimicrobial, vasodilator, and wound healing agent. Our goal is to utilize unique chemical approaches to design new biomaterials and delivery devices that can provide therapeutic nitric oxide."
Dr. Elizabeth Brisbois and Dr. Hitesh Handa
What are you enjoying about your REU experience – and how do you think the experience will benefit you in the future?
"This has been the greatest experience in my academic career. This was my dream program and I had wanted to be in an REU program since my freshman year of college. Dr. Brisbois and Dr. Handa have a collaborative lab and an extremely productive and friendly lab atmosphere. I have had the pleasure of being here for 10 weeks and I wish I could stay longer. I loved the chance to get a taste of what graduate school could be for me and it really highlighted the importance of a good work atmosphere for me. The time in the lab has given me the experience of independent work and multiple publishing opportunities before I graduate. The research experience will improve my chances of being selected for a Ph.D. program in the future. I did not expect to make friends during the program but I have made a lot of great friends and hope to possibly work with some of them in the future. I love this lab and I am also so grateful for the stipend and dining accommodations."
What are your impressions of UGA and Athens and have you enjoyed your time here?
"The UGA campus is gorgeous with all of the flourishing plant life. I really appreciate the walkability of the campus and surrounding area as well as the biking accommodations. The atmosphere and nature of the campus made me enjoy walking and exploring. The downtown area was very lively and has a lot of different food options. Athens may be a small town but it has a lot of charm."