Chemical engineer wins SEAS Graduate Student Poster Competition

by Jane Stoyle Welch

Published March 30, 2020

Nika Rajabian, a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, won first place for her research poster in the annual SEAS Graduate Student Poster Competition.

"My work may provide a powerful model for studying aging. In particular, it can be a platform for genetic or pharmacological testing to facilitate drug discoveries to lessen the impact of sarcopenia and restore muscle function."
Nika Rajabian, PhD student
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Entitled “Bioengineered skeletal muscle as a model of muscle aging and regeneration,” Rajabian’s research explores a senescent model of bioengineered skeletal muscle that can be used to investigate the biological impact of aging on metabolic or genetic diseases.

“Skeletal muscle comprises 45-55% of body mass and plays important physiological roles in the body, such as enabling skeletal movements and regulating metabolism. One of the major medical problems facing the elderly is the loss of muscle mass and force-generating capacity, which is known as sarcopenia,” said Stelios Andreadis, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Rajabian’s advisor. “Nika is developing a 3D model of skeletal muscle tissue to study the effects of stem cell senescence (aging) on tissue function and how reversing the stem cell senescence may restore it.”

“The in vitro 3D bioengineered senescent skeletal muscle tissue using primary human myoblasts exhibited significantly reduced ability to generate contractile force and to regenerate in response to injury, similar to in vivo skeletal muscle from aged individuals. Therefore, my work may provide a powerful model for studying aging. In particular, it can be a platform for genetic or pharmacological testing to facilitate drug discoveries to lessen the impact of sarcopenia and restore muscle function,” says Rajabian, who came to UB in 2016, after completing her undergraduate degree at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran.

“The collaborative environment and great facilities make the University at Buffalo a great place to work in this area of research,” she added.

The second place award went to Olivia Licata, Department of Materials Design and Innovation, for her poster, “Atomic Investigation of Dopant Chemistry in GaN:Mg for a p-type Enhanced N-polar Photocathode.” Her advisor is Assistant Professor Baishaki Mazumder.

Munjal Shah, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, earned third place for his poster, “Wing Corrugation and Body Effects in Insect Forward Flight.” His advisor is Professor Francine Battaglia.

Graduate students from across the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences presented their research posters to faculty, staff, and fellow students during the annual Graduate Student Poster Competition, which was held on February 19. Judges included faculty from eight of the school’s nine departments.

Fifteen students from across the school participated in the event. In addition to the winners, the participants were:

  • Yudhajit Pal, Chemical and Biological Engineering, “High-Throughput Screening of Porphyrin Systems for Artificial Photosynthesis,” advisor: Johannes Hachmann
  • Shivang Aggarwal, Computer Science and Engineering, “Can Mobile Hardware Keep Up with Today’s Gigabit Wireless Technologies?,” advisor: Dimitrios Koutsonikolas
  • Chang Min Park, Computer Science and Engineering, “Gesto: Mapping UI Events to Gestures and Voice Commands,” advisor: Steven Ko
  • Seyed Omid Sajed, Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, “Risk-informed Seismic Damage Diagnosis Leveraging Deep Learning,” advisor: Xiao Liang
  • Mohammadreza Moghaddaszadeh, Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, “Omnidirectional Wave Mitigation Using Elastic Metamaterials in Axisymmetric Arrangements,” advisors: Amjad Aref and Mostafa Nouh
  • Sudarsan Sadasivuni, Electrical Engineering, “Machine Learning Models for Authenticating Integrated Circuits Based on Nonlinearities,” advisor: Arindam Sanyal
  • Maxwell McManus, Electrical Engineering, “Deep-learning-based Radio Signal Sensing and Classification,” advisor: Zhangyu Guan
  • Kyle Weeks, Biomedical Engineering, “Eradication and Prevention of Biofilm on Orthopedic Implant Using Implantable Cathodic Voltage Controlled Stimulator,” advisor: Albert Titus
  • Aakanksha Pathania, Biomedical Engineering, “Drug testing on engineered lung micro-tissues for a potential anti-fibrotic therapy,” advisor: Ruogang Zhao
  • Zachary Steever, Industrial and Systems Engineering, “An Image-based Approach to Detecting Structural Similarity Among Mixed Integer Programs,” advisor: Chase Murray
  • Luis Javier Segura, Industrial and Systems Engineering, “Nearest-neighbor Gaussian Process Emulation for Multi-dimensional Array Responses in Freeze Nano 3D Printing of Energy Devices,” advisor: Hongyue Sun
  • Vedant Joshi, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, “Energy efficient strategies of improving thermal comfort in a building environment,” advisor: Francine Battaglia