“I appreciate the resources for professional development for graduate students at UMBC, such as programs hosted by PROMISE. I believe these programs are invaluable for life after graduation.”
Hometown: Plainsboro, NJ
Degree Program: Chemical and Biochemical Engineering (Ph.D.)
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Gregory Szeto
Thesis/research topic: Nanostructures Encapsulating Antimalarial Drugs for Improved Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Treatment
Fellowships: Meyerhoff Graduate Fellowship, UMBC LSAMP Bridge to Doctorate Fellowship, GEM Associate Fellowship, Lupus Foundation of America Gina M. Finzi Student Fellowship
2016, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Tufts University (Medford, MA)
Why did you decide to attend UMBC? And why did you choose your program in particular?
I decided to attend UMBC and my program, in particular, because of the sense of community that I noticed during my visit to the school. UMBC also makes great strides in creating a space for students of color to thrive in both undergraduate and graduate education.
Why is your favorite things about UMBC?
I appreciate the resources for professional development for graduate students at UMBC, such as programs hosted by PROMISE. I believe these programs are invaluable for life after graduation. What I enjoy most about Baltimore is the Farmer’s Market and Bazaar and the different personalities of each neighborhood.
Briefly describe your graduate research and its purpose/applications.
My Ph.D. thesis work explores using shape-based targeting nanoparticles as a platform to safely and efficiently deliver antimalarial drugs to lupus nephritis patients. Antimalarials are the most commonly prescribed disease-modifying, steroid-free drugs for lupus patients and have been in use since the 1950s. They are cheap, safe for pregnant women, and reduce disease activity with rare, mild side effects. A limitation of antimalarials is the requirement of up to 3+ months of doses before the drug is fully active, and that the drug may still be unable to reverse damage done to the kidneys by nephritis. In that case, highly toxic drugs that suppress the immune system are added to a patient’s treatment regimen. By loading antimalarials in nanoparticles that specifically target immune cells that play a role in worsening nephritis, we expect to increase the onset of active drug, limit toxicity, reduce symptoms, and decrease the dose normally prescribed to patients.
Have you worked on any specific research projects that you would like to highlight?
A highlight of my experience at UMBC is the opportunity to travel and present my research at conferences such as the Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, American Association of Immunologists Annual Meeting, the UMBC Graduate Research Conference, etc. Excitingly, I had the opportunity to present my research at UMB School of Medicine during the Rheumatology Grand Rounds.
What are your plans after you complete your degree at UMBC?
My career goal is to enter academia as a professor. I want to shape tomorrow’s engineers through teaching, research, mentorship, and outreach. As a principal investigator, I would like to utilize my research experiences to design solutions to diseases, such as lupus and heart disease, and to tackle health disparities, such as working in patient education.