Being able to do research with Professor Ebenstein this summer has been a rewarding experience. My research focuses on comparing different mechanical testing methods on biomaterials. I have been testing a series of silicone samples using four methods: nanoindentation, pipette aspiration, compression testing, and tensile testing. My research is to determine whether smaller scale methods, such as nanoindentation and pipette aspiration, are comparable to the more traditional macroscale methods, such as tensile testing and compression testing, through the analysis of the elastic moduli. Knowing the elastic modulus and other material properties is important, especially in the biomedical world, because it can help with areas of growing interest like biomimetics. Being able to validate those methods is beneficial because it is often difficult to test biomaterials using traditional large scale tests: they are simply too big. You cannot test the properties of a single red blood cell using those macroscale tests.
Overall, the PUR program has provided me with insight in what I want to do in the future. Bucknell has given me the opportunity to explore the field of research so I can decide whether to continue with research or switch into industry for biomedical engineering. I was also given an opportunity to continue my research this upcoming fall semester and I am looking forward to attending the national Biomedical Engineering Society conference to present my work. Because of research this summer, I feel I have not only grown academically, but personally. Academically speaking, I was given the chance to take a step further from my material science class last semester and apply what I have learned to my whole research project. Personally, I gained time management skills and learned to work independently in a manner I would not be able to during the school year. I learned to figure things out and use the resources around me without someone being there by my side at all times. More importantly, I learned that it is okay to stray from the path from time to time... because that is what research is: an ever-changing path that leads to an indefinite destination. You cannot always predict what will happen along the way.