By Allison McLellan
Stephanie Bendtsen is a current Ph.D. Candidate in materials science working towards healing others. A Graduate STEM Fellow in K-12 Education, the young scholar conducts research in bone tissue engineering because she says she would like “to contribute to the scientific community and help engineer innovative biomaterials that can be used in patients to help promote tissue regeneration and faster healing.”
Stephanie had solidified her dedication to research through volunteering at the UConn Health Center as a biomechanics intern. Her experience involved using MTS on biological rotator cuffs, biceps tendons, and acromioclavicular joints in order to test various repair techniques, dissecting cadaver shoulders, inserting screws into the humerus to prepare for bicep tendon testing, and utilizing MaxTRAQ and Excel to analyze test videos and graph muscle displacement. With this initial exposure to the field, she realized her interest in conducting experiments and analyzing the results, overall contributing to a larger picture of information.
Following this inspired path to a research career, Stephanie is now working on 3D bioprinting of alginate hydrogels under the advisement of Dr. Mei Wei, whose team’s focus is on the development of novel biomaterials for tissue engineering. Dr. Wei says Stephanie has been successful in incorporating bone minerals and live cells into the gel composition, and forming a cell-loaded bone-tissue engineering scaffold using a 3-D printing approach. In fact, her poster entitled “3D Bioprinting of Alginate-Hydroxapatite Hydrogel Scaffolds for Bone Tissue Regeneration” just received a “Best Poster Award Nomination” at the Spring 2016 Materials Research Society conference in Phoenix.
Outside of her research, Stephanie does not slow down; her hobbies include cardio-kickboxing and running. This past year she has been actively participating in the Hartford Marathon Foundation races across Connecticut, completing her first marathon in Hartford last fall.
With so much going on in her academics and career pursuits, Stephanie is taking in a great deal of new experiences. However, she says the most important lesson she has learned is to not stress over the little things. “I believe that everything happens for a reason, and it’s more important to take a step back to appreciate what you have and what’s good in your life instead of worrying about what’s out of your control.”