Monroe Research Group Receives Multiple Awards at Society for Biomaterials Conference

Biomedical and chemical engineering Professor Mary Beth Monroe attended the Society for Biomaterials (SFB) 2022 meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, with Ph.D. students Anand Vakil, Henry Beaman, Changling Du and Maryam Ramezani, master’s student Natalie Petryk ’21, G’22 and undergraduate students Caitlyn Greene ’22, Grace Haas ’23, and Avery Gunderson ’23. The national conference included more than 850 presentations from all over the world. The Monroe lab’s research abstracts and presentations were recognized in several competitions that took place during the conference, highlighting the excellent biomaterials work at Syracuse University.

A group of 9 people smiling in front of a conference sign.
Biomedical and chemical engineering Professor Mary Beth Monroe and her team of students at the Society for Biomaterials conference in Baltimore, Maryland.
A student holds an award plaque on stage with two presenters.
Henry Beaman receives a Ph.D. Student Award for Outstanding Research.

Student Award for Outstanding Research: This is the highest student award that SFB gives, recognizing student researchers who have shown outstanding achievement in biomaterials research. Henry Beaman, a fourth-year Ph.D. student, was one of two students selected in the Ph.D. student category. Beaman was recognized for his work on shape memory polymer hydrogel foams with cell-responsive degradation mechanisms for Crohn’s fistula filling. Natalie Petryk was selected in the master’s student category. She was recognized for her work on tuning the interconnectivity of shape memory polymer foams using off-the-shelf foaming agents. Published manuscripts from both projects are featured in a special issue of the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research.

Student Travel Achievement Recognition (STAR) Award: STAR awardees are selected based on abstracts by each Special Interest Group (SIG) within SFB to recognize research excellence with an aim of developing future leaders within SFB. Out of more than 850 abstracts, there are 25 STAR awardees and 25 STAR honorable mentions. Maryam Ramezani, a third year Ph.D. student, received a STAR award based on her research on bacteria-responsive shape memory polymers. Caitlyn Greene, a senior undergraduate, received honorable mention based on her work on incorporating antimicrobial phenolic acids into shape memory polymer hydrogels.

A student holds a plaque on stage with two presenters.
Natalie Petryk receives a Master’s Student Award for Outstanding Research.

Dr. Rena Bizios Poster Award: This award program honors Rena Bizios, a founding and active member of the BIoInterfaces SIG and  recognizes outstanding BioInterfaces research by graduate students. Anand Vakil, a fourth-year Ph.D. student, received first place for his work on temporally-controlled drug release from shape memory polymers. Natalie Petryk won second place in the competition for her research on tuning foam interconnectivity.

Biomaterials Education Challenge: This competition involves presenting a poster with an educational module that is designed for middle school students. The objectives are to:

  • Improve widespread understanding of biomaterials-related science and careers in the middle school population.
  • Encourage SFB student chapters to participate in K-8 outreach efforts.
  • Reward the communication skills and creativity of the next generation of biomaterials researchers and educators.

As representatives of the Syracuse University SFB student chapter, Maryam Ramezani and Anand Vakil earned first place in this competition for their presentation on using cakes to teach concepts about polymers and foam fabrication. This award provides $1,500 for the student chapter to use for further development of outreach activities.