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2nd Place, 2010

Water water everywhere nor any drop to drink

Kristin Thomas, Biopharmaceutical Sciences

My image is an evaporating dish containing an array of disks cut from PEGDA hydrogels synthesized in our lab. These disks are transparent and at the microscale they are comprised of an interpenetrating network into which water and proteins can enter. These gels can be synthesized using either chemicals or light, but what makes them so unique is their ability to amalgamate themselves with aqueous systems and hoard all of the water - much like a sponge. This ability makes the hydrogel a prime candidate for a variety of applications ranging from everyday products as diapers to systems that contain cells. Here we see pictured transparent disks of hydrogel swollen from water uptake. In my research, I study the ability of these gels to absorb protein along with water. If these gels are able to take up enough protein, they could be used as environments for cells, or even drug delivery vehicles into which "target" proteins could enter and release therapeutic agents.