Summer Spotlight: Anne Straits
Anticipated Graduation Year: 2024
Major: Biomedical Engineering
This summer Straits is participating in a research opportunity with CWRU's Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering. Here's what she shared about her experience...
Explain the details of your research.
I'm assisting a graduate student, Dan Verrico, on a project for Veterans Affairs. The project focuses on the design and development of polymeric materials to enhance the comfort of wearers of prosthetic devices by enabling the transfer of moisture away from skin. My position involves fabrication of multi-layer sheets of mixtures of soft, elastomeric materials, moisture uptake measurements, Shore hardness measurements, and the determination of mechanical properties such as compressive modulus. From these, we hope to identify a particular blend of materials that is able to simultaneously provide adequate cushioning and moisture uptake and use it to develop a prototype prosthetic liner.
What has your experience been like so far?
So far, I've gained an overview of the project and my responsibilities. I started off with a literature search, to build a foundation of knowledge for the project and have learned how to operate the press and batch mixer in order to fabricate samples of the materials to be tested. I also had the opportunity to attend a group meeting and learn about the projects the other graduate students are conducting research on.
What're you looking forward to?
I'm looking forward to when I'll start to work on developing a simple prototype of the prosthetic liner. The current plan is to create a liner with two layers, one to wick away moisture and a second to absorb it. Using this prototype, I'll examine how the material performs and be able to evaluate its efficacy.
What's your best piece of advice for other students who might be looking for a similar opportunity?
Don't be afraid to reach out, and don't sell yourself short when you do. It doesn't matter if you don't have any prior research experience, as long as you can demonstrate a genuine interest the project you hope to become a part of.
How did CWRU and Case School of Engineering prepare you for this internship?
I've met some really great professors through the classes I've taken so far. What I've learned in class has also helped to give me a better background for understanding the science of the project I'm working on.