Engineering Students Present at Sigma Xi Student Research Poster Symposium

Olivia Cero (pictured) and Paige Turilli, Chemical Engineering seniors, placed 1st in the Sigma Xi poster competition (undergraduate category) with “Preparing LtEc-Alginate Hydrogels for Animal Cell Culture.”
Olivia Cero (pictured) and Paige Turilli, Chemical Engineering seniors, placed 1st in the Sigma Xi poster competition (undergraduate category) with “Preparing LtEc-Alginate Hydrogels for Animal Cell Culture.”

Nine College of Engineering undergraduates and five graduate engineering students took part in Villanova University’s 2018 Sigma Xi Student Research Poster Symposium. The international honor society for research scientists and engineers, Sigma Xi hosts this annual event to foster, recognize and celebrate the next generation of researchers in fields including Astronomy and Astrophysics, Planetary Science and Physics; Computing Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics; Chemistry and Biochemistry; Geography and the Environment; Biology and Engineering.

Judges evaluated the research posters and provided written feedback to the presenters. The day’s events concluded with awards being presented for outstanding posters. Within the College, Chemical Engineering seniors Olivia Cero and Paige Turilli took the first place undergraduate award for “Preparing LtEc-Alginate Hydrogels for Animal Cell Culture.” Advised by Assistant Professor Jacob Elmer, PhD, the team sought to refine the production of LtEc (earthworm hemoglobin) hydrogels, which better simulate the 3-D nature of soft tissue, providing a microenvironment that mimics the growth conditions of cells in vivo. The structure of LtEc makes it heat stable, which is helpful when culturing cells. 

Seniors John Aquino (pictured) and Sean Lyons placed 2nd in the undergraduate category for “High Temperature CO2 Sorption by Mesoporous Lithium Orthosilicate.”
Seniors John Aquino (pictured) and Sean Lyons placed 2nd in the undergraduate category for “High Temperature CO2 Sorption by Mesoporous Lithium Orthosilicate.”

Taking second place in the engineering undergraduate category were Chemical Engineering seniors John Aquino and Sean Lyons, who were mentored by Associate Professor Michael Smith, PhD, and Research Associate Professor Charles Coe, PhD. Their poster was titled “High Temperature CO2 Sorption by Mesoporous Lithium Orthosilicate.”

The first place graduate student award went to PhD student Matthew Tucker for “Characterization of the Host Cell Response to Non-Viral Gene Therapy.” Tucker’s advisor was Dr. Elmer, who has a National Science Foundation grant for research on this topic. This particular project focused on determining which host cell genes are up/downregulated in response to cytoplasmic delivery of plasmid DNA. The results give insight into future directions for modifying the host cell response.

Finally, PhD student Amro Lulu, took second place for “Enhanced Range Resolution by Phase Matching of Extended Beat Signals.” His mentor was Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor and Department Chair Bijan Mobasseri, PhD.