Undergraduate researcher in tissue engineering receives scholarship
Based on her work as part of a tissue engineering research group and her overall academic achievements, Virginia Tech chemical engineering student Reisha Maria Parham of Chesapeake, Va., has received a 2011-12 American Institute of Chemical Engineers' Minority Scholarship Award.
Parham was nominated by her adviser, Padma Rajagopalan, an associate professor of chemical engineering, a member of the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award recipient.
Parham is a senior who has worked for the past two years with Rajagopalan's research group focusing on the design and assembly of 3-D liver-mimetic cellular architectures. Parham has performed "a critical component" of this research, aimed at engineering tissues that mimic the human liver, according to Rajagopalan.
Parham "focused on the design on nanoscale polymer films with a thickness of 600 to 800 nanometers. Obtaining these films was critical to the design of the engineered tissue models we assemble in the laboratory," Rajagopalan elaborated.
Parham's success in this effort has led to her contribution to a technical paper on tissue engineering that was presented at the 2011 national chemical engineering conference. The paper is entitled "Nanoporous, Optically Transparent, and Free-Standing Polyelectrolyte Multilayer Films for Applications In Tissue Engineering," authored by Adam L. Larkin, Parham and Rajagopalan
Parham, who has made the academic Dean's List since her freshman year, is a member of the Virginia Tech chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and has served as its Student Government Association representative. This year, she is the elected treasurer of the organization.
In the summer of 2010, Parham worked as a research intern at the University of Virginia in a pharmacology laboratory screening small compound drugs aimed at reversing the effects of diabetes. One of her other summer positions was a teaching assistant at the Southeastern Cooperative Education Program of Chesapeake where she worked with teachers of autistic and special needs children.
She has received a host of additional honors while an engineering student at Virginia Tech, including the Harry Bramhill Gilbert Meritorious Scholarship, the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Scholarship, a National Council for Minorities in Engineering Scholarship, and an Undergraduate Fellowship from Virginia Tech.