Women Engineers Highlight: Dr. Kelly Schultz
This June 23rd, 2022 was “Women Engineers Day.” so, yea…we’re a little late publishing this blog. SayoStudio has had the privilege of creating many chemical engineering journal covers, but we wanted to highlight of one of our favorite engineers, Dr. Kelly Schultz!
Schultz works in chemical and bio-molecular engineering at Lehigh University. Her lab studies specifically cell-material interactions with different materials; namely, gels. Now, what exactly do we mean by gels? Schultz studies all sorts of synthetic gels, but mainly hydrogels. They have far reaching applications for the medical and health sector. Many synthetic gels can act as delivery systems for drugs and speed up the healing process of human tissues.
A recent chemical engineering journal cover we made for the Schultz lab shows the synthetic gel ‘scaffold’ structure on a microscale. Understanding the properties of these gel structures is crucial to create strategies for their possible use in bioengineering. Designing new gels relies on careful analysis by Schultz’s lab on their specific properties and how they interact with their environment.
“Cells do not simply reside within a material — they actively re-engineer it.” – Dr. Kelly Schultz
One awesome discovery came in the form of autofluorescence of these gels. You might know a little bit about fluorescence in your daily life; like those glow sticks you can buy your kids, or maybe even bioluminescent bacteria on a beach at night. Autofluorescence in synthetic gels directly correlates with how ‘stiff’ their scaffold structure is; i.e. how stable the gel is. Schultz’s lab created a method for determining the elasticity of gels with their brightness level, detected under UV light ranges.
Chemical Engineering Journal Highlights
Speaking of Schultz’s accomplishments, she recently was awarded a $1.87M grant by the National Institutes of Health in August 2022. The Schultz lab will be studying more cellular adhesion properties and the motility of these elastic gel scaffolds. The more elastic the gel scaffold is, the easier it is for human cells to navigate through it. This process facilitates healing times for human tissues and beyond.
The navigation of human cells through gels is a fascinating new area of research. You can learn more about the work Schultz lab does on their website. If you like these covers, you’ll love our blog on our latest science journal covers we’ve made this year, which includes Macromolecules. We look forward to hearing more about the amazing work Dr. Kelly Schultz makes with her colleagues — and can’t wait to see what’s next!