By Amanda Campanaro
University Professor Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, Associate Professor Bryan Huey, and fifth-semester undergraduate Andrew Nguyen were among the UConn MSE members recognized for their achievements in Materials Science and Technology at the MS&T 2016 conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The annual MS&T conference is organized by four supporting materials science and technology organizations: the American Ceramic Society (ACerS), a non-profit organization that provides the informational, educational, and professional needs to the ceramic materials community internationally; ASM International, which informs, educates, and connects the materials community to promote problem solving and innovation; the Association for Iron and Steel Technology (AIST), comprised of more than 17,500 members from 70 countries working to advance the technical development, production, processing, and application of iron and steel; The Minerals, Metals, & Materials Society (TMS), an international society fostering the collaboration of knowledge encompassing a full range of materials science and engineering applications; and is co-sponsored by NACE International, a world-wide authority on corrosion control.
In April, Dr. Laurencin was selected to give the prestigious ACerS 2016 Frontiers of Science Rustom Roy lecture. The award is given to an individual recognized as someone who has made great contributions to science, while at the same time has given of himself/herself to humanity and society. “I was very honored to receive the Roy Rustom Lecture Award,” Dr. Laurencin said.
Dr. Laurencin is a world-renowned surgeon-scientist in orthopaedic surgery, engineering, and materials science. He is a pioneer in materials science and in the discipline of regenerative engineering. Dr. Laurencin holds the position of University Professor at UConn, the 8th in the University’s history. Additionally, he is the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery in the School of Medicine and a tenured professor in UConn’s School of Engineering. His other titles include Director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering and Director of the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences at UConn.
For his research in regenerative engineering, Dr. Laurencin was recently awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, presented by President Barack Obama, and the Connecticut Medal of Technology for 2016.
His lecture at MS&T 2016 discussed his lab’s development of engineered tissues that have found their way to clinical use, and the engineered complex tissues of tomorrow that they are developing. “I also talked about the importance of giving back to society, through mentoring young people and through creating scientific discoveries that truly make a difference in people’s lives. This is what I’ve dedicated my life to doing,” he explained.
Dr. Laurencin’s current research involves the regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues. “Using our new field of regenerative engineering, we are working on solving grand challenges such as limb regeneration.” They have already had success in creating engineered tissues that regenerate in people.
Associate Professor Bryan Huey was awarded the American Ceramic Society’s Fulrath award, a mid-career award which recognizes excellence in research and development of ceramic sciences and materials. “The award promotes professional and personal relationships with American and Japanese scholars, and is presented to five academic and industrial scholars from the two countries,” Dr. Huey said. He was recognized for his work employing Scanning Probe Microscopy to studies of electronic ceramics.
“My presentation focused especially on the hard work of my group here at UConn in advancing nanoscale measurements of ferroelectric and piezoelectric properties,” he explained.
In addition to the being honored as the American academic awardee, Dr. Huey will be hosted on a trip to Japan next year by the Fulrath Memorial Association Committee. This includes an invited presentation for the annual conference of the Ceramic Society of Japan, as well as seminars at several universities and companies. “I am deeply humbled by this opportunity and recognition,” he said.
Also researching tissue engineering is undergraduate Andrew Nguyen, a member of UConn Material Advantage, who was awarded second place at the conference for his research poster.
“One of the most prevalent issues surrounding tissue engineering involves osteochondral injury which occurs in articulating joint areas,” Andrew explained. He is currently researching one specific field within tissue engineering that involves creating and turning scaffolds into functional tissues. Because of their design, anisotropic scaffolds are the most ideal for alleviating issues caused by osteochondral injury because they mimic the structure of native joint tissue.
While working with Professor Mei Wei, graduate student Drew Clearfield, and fellow undergraduate students Chris Chao and Simon Du, Andrew utilizes one promising processing method in order to fabricate anisotropic scaffolds called “freeze-casting”. This process involves the unidirectional freezing of an ice solvent and then sublimation to create porous structures.
“In our lab, we fabricate these scaffolds using this processing method, and then quantitatively and qualitatively characterize them through various methods such as SEM imaging, mechanical testing, and gravimetric analyses,” Andrew said.
Andrew was also able to meet with other students from universities across the United States and learn about their research during technical talks and while presenting his poster at the Undergraduate Poster competition. “It was an honor and I was extremely humbled to place 2nd among so many intelligent and accomplished students,” Andrew said. He intends to donate a majority of his award to UConn Material Advantage in order to fund other club activities.
“MS&T has long been a favorite conference to me, especially as it has excellent programming for students compared to many professional conferences,” Dr. Huey said. “UConn’s student MSE organization, Material Advantage, regularly wins national prizes for their outreach and other activities.”