Case Western Reserve University student Sonia Merritt, a third-year biomedical engineering major from the Toledo area, has been selected by the Federal Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) to be one of 60 presenters at "CUR Posters on the Hill" in Washington, D.C.
Merritt, along with the other undergraduate student presenters from around the nation, presented the results of their independent research in science, mathematics and the humanities. They displayed their research posters to members of Congress, federal agency funding officers and invited guests at the Rayburn House Office Building. Students were competitively chosen from just under 400 applicants. Their research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, NASA and other federal agencies.
During this event, Merritt and one of her research partners, graduate student Qiongyu Guo, met with the Ohio Congressional delegation to discuss the need for federally funded undergraduate research and the current advancements made with polymeric materials as well as their numerous applications.
"I'm very excited to be presenting my research in front of our nation's lawmakers," Merritt said. "Not only do we want them to know about our important research, but we also want them to be aware of the great experiences undergraduate students are having in school so they can be our biggest advocates in Congress."
Merritt is collaborating with Patrick Mather, an associate professor of macromolecular science and engineering and Merritt's faculty adviser, and Guo to study biodegradable polymers for controlled drug delivery applications. Her present work is part of a broad, multiresearcher effort addressing the technical challenge of uncontrolled drug release through the development of a family of nanostructured, biodegradable polyurethanes called polyhedral oligomeric silsesquioxane thermoplastic polyurethane (POSS-TPU). The purpose of Merritt's research project is to investigate the effects of two particular formation factors on the drug release characteristics of drug-loaded POSS-TPU coating. These factors include varying the coating mass and varying the drug loading.
"Sonia is unique among undergraduate researchers I have encountered by her combination of poise in the lab and passion for her work," Mather said. "I fully expect to see Sonia as a leader in biomedical engineering…and that she will be having fun!"
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.