Rion Wendland

Rion Wendland, Ph.D. student, Biomedical Engineering

Creates biomaterials to restore vision

Hometown: Madison Lake, MN
Faculty mentor/advisor: Dr. Kristan Worthington, Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineering
What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, May 2024
Please describe your research: I investigate how the mechanical properties (stiffnesses) of cell scaffolds affect different aspects of surgical eye procedures. Mainly, I work to identify a range of stiffnesses (not too soft, but not too hard) for these scaffolds, based on both favorable cellular response as well as performance during surgical handling.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? My work is focused on supporting a treatment for retinal degenerative diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration. Overall, we are looking to restore the lost vision of those afflicted, improving their health and quality of life.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I was able to participate in research starting my 3rd year of undergrad and have continued through my current studies.
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Research has enabled me to apply concepts learned in the classroom to solve real-world problems. I’ve also been able to develop skills such as experimental design, research collaboration, and scientific communication.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? After graduation I hope to continue being involved in research, working as a biomedical engineer in industry or continuing with academic research

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