Science students invite celebrated nanoscientist to campus for guest lecture
When an opportunity arose for undergraduate students in the Virginia Tech College of Science’s Academy of Integrated Science (AIS) to invite a speaker to campus during the first week of classes, they didn’t hesitate in their first choice: renowned nanomedicine scientist Joy Wolfram.
Wolfram is an assistant professor of medicine with the Mayo Clinic's departments of Transplantation and Physiology and Biomedical Engineering at the research institute’s Jacksonville, Florida, campus.
Students in AIS invited her to campus on Aug. 30 as part of the academic student organization-led initiative sponsored by the Virginia Tech Life Science Seminar series and with the support of the Associate Academic Leader in Nanomedicine Carla Finkielstein, a professor with the Department of Biological Sciences and a member of the Fralin Life Sciences Institute.
“We researched nanoscientists who we felt could bring excitement and passion for their work to Virginia Tech and show the students what is possible at the nanoscale,” said Ethan Boeding, of Mechanicsville, Virginia, a senior majoring in nanoscience who is also the lead nanoscience ambassador. “Dr. Joy Wolfram was an obvious choice for this role as she is a motivated, pioneer researcher in nanomedicine that is well accomplished.”
In addition to Boeding, the search and invitation for a speaker was spearheaded by Gigi Grogan, a senior from Dunkirk, Maryland, who is the lead student ambassador for nanomedicine in the College of Science.
Wolfram focuses her research on developing new methods for treating disease using nanomedicine, in particular extracellular vesicle therapeutics and methods for organotropic drug delivery. She is also known widely for a popular TEDxJacksonville talk she gave in fall 2018. Her lecture focused on “Synthetic and Biological Nanoparticles for Cancer and Beyond.”
“Nanoscience is growing increasingly vital to translational medicine to help developing advanced diagnostic tools and treatment strategies,” Finkielstein said of Wolfram’s talk, adding that “Ethan and Gigi did fantastic” in organizing the event with assistance from AIS staff member Cara Conley.
The day included a lunch with Wolfram and several students in the nanoscience and nanomedicine majors. “The day went smoothly, and I was happy that she could experience what it’s like to be at Virginia Tech even on such a short visit,” Boeding said.
Added F. Marc Michel, division leader of the nanoscience program and an associate professor in the Department of Geosciences: “Our students impressed me on every level with the organization and execution of Dr. Wolfram’s visit, and I will absolutely encourage and support these types of student-led events in the future. They provide unique opportunities for our students to engage with other leading scientists in the fields of nanoscience and nanomedicine.”