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Laura Simpson

 

“I like that UMBC makes their classes very personable, you don’t feel like a number to your professors. I love that UMBC is also fairly secluded allowing for a great environment for studying but Baltimore is only 10 min away for when you need a break and have some fun.”

 

 

Hometown: Eldersburg, MD

Degree Program: Chemical and Biochemical Engineering (Ph.D.)

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jennie Leach

Thesis/research topic: Bioengineered Models of Alzheimer’s Disease – Investigating the protein stability, aggregation and toxicity of beta amyloid on neuronal cell lines in 3D hydrogel environments compared to traditional 2D cell culture and protein studies.

Undergraduate Study:
2013, Biology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (Baltimore, MD)

Why did you decide to attend UMBC?
I started at UMBC in undergrad because it has an excellent science program and I competed on the track team for my 5 years of undergrad.  I stayed at UMBC for my graduate career because the work I had started in Dr. Leach’s lab was very exciting and I wanted to continue working in her lab.

What is your favorite thing about UMBC?
I like that UMBC makes their classes very personable, you don’t feel like a number to your professors. I love that UMBC is also fairly secluded allowing for a great environment for studying but Baltimore is only 10 min away for when you need a break and have some fun.

Briefly describe your graduate research and its purpose/applications.
We have found that beta amyloid, the protein found in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), shows less cell toxicity in 3D hydrogels compared to the large amount of cell death in traditional 2D cell culture.  From this we are investigating how the confinement of the 3D scaffold changes the protein folding and aggregation which makes it less toxic to cells when compared to in a solution. This raises questions to the true role of this protein in the pathology of AD and provides cell culture models for studying AD that are better representations of human tissue.

Have you worked on any specific research projects (including any opportunity to publish or present your research) that you would like to highlight?
I presented my work at the 2017 ACS conference in San Francisco

What are your plans after you complete your degree at UMBC?
During my 5 years of undergrad at UMBC I pole vaulted for the Track & Field team and I still hold the women’s indoor and outdoor records.  Now I play soccer in social leagues in Baltimore, go for hikes, and travel whenever I get the chance.

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