Biomed student to showcase heart research
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 01:10
Rachel Adams, a fifth-semester biomedical engineering major spent her summer conducting research in former Professor Wei Sun’s tissues mechanics lab where she worked on tissues for artificial heart valves.
Adams, along with many other students who have conducted research over the past year, will be presenting her project to the UConn community at the Fall 2013 Frontiers Exhibition on Oct. 23 in the Wilbur Cross South Reading Room.
Adams’ project, entitled “Development of a Tissue Treatment and Sorting Protocol in the Fabrication of Transcatheter Aortic Valves,” began when she received a Student Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) Award at the end of the spring semester. Equipped with the resources she needed, Adams almost immediately ran into a problem that would alter the course of her research.
She had begun the summer believing that she would be studying the elasticity of artificial organ tissue through a technique she developed called the deflection test.
The test allows for the degree of elasticity to be measured and thus enables the different tissues to be grouped by their elasticity in the valve. However, Adams quickly discovered a significant flaw with the deflection test design. In order to measure the elasticity, she had been randomly pinning down the tissue. She soon discovered that where she pinned the tissue caused a significant difference in its elasticity measurement. Therefore, a standard method of pinning had to be established.
Due to this difficulty, Adams ended up focusing her research on developing the best method of pinning the tissues in order to produce the ideal stretch strain curve when they were put through the deflection test. “It was shocking to me how many variables come into play,” Adams said, “and I only worked on two; there are so many.”
The most rewarding part of spending the hot summer months inside a laboratory for Adams was watching the other students in the lab who made valves out of her treated tissues and produced valves that could endure much more wear and tear than those previously made. These improved valves could hypothetically last long enough to be used in people, which seems incredible to Adams.
Adams is looking to use the Frontier Exhibition as an opportunity to share her work with the UConn community and beyond. “I’m really passionate about my work and I want to…share it with the professors, friends and other professionals that will come to the fair,” Adams said. “I hope people will come out and check out all the projects.”
For more information about the Frontier Fair contact the Office of Undergraduate Research at firstname.lastname@example.org.