Grace Williamson

Grace Williamson, Undergraduate student, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Designs wound therapies

“Chronic wounds are an important health concern due to their susceptibility to infection and associated pain. We have been working to develop sprayable, antimicrobial gels to improve infection treatment and reduce pain due to treatment application. Grace has been instrumental in moving our skin spray project forward.” – Jennifer Fiegel, Associate Professor, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Hometown: Iowa City, IA
Faculty mentor/advisor: Dr. Jennifer Fiegel
What is your degree program and expected graduate date? Bachelors of Science in Engineering (B.S.E) Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, expected to graduate May 2022
Please describe your research: I am working to develop a temperature-sensitive sprayable hydrogel to be used as an alternative treatment for burn wound infections. The gel is liquid at room temperatures and can be sprayed onto the wound, where it transitions into a gel consistency with the heat of the wound bed. This method will prolong drug delivery, provide an easier, more sanitary, and less painful treatment option for those hospitalized due to severe burn wounds.
In simple terms, why does this research matter? The leading cause of death after a severe burn wound is due to infection often of broad-spectrum antibiotic-resistant microbes commonly found in hospitals due to prolonged hospitalization. During this time, the immune system is severely weakened, and patients cannot fight off these infections. Topical prolonged-release systems like this one can better fight these types of infections.
How soon after starting at the University of Iowa were you able to participate in research? I joined the Fiegel lab the summer after my freshman year
How has being involved in research made you more successful at the University of Iowa? Being able to participate in hands-on research has been essential to my success at Iowa. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to work in research after graduation. Having four years of research experience with multiple projects and experience presenting my research has prepared me well for graduate school.
What are your career goals and/or plans after graduation? I hope to attend graduate school and attain a Ph.D. in a pharmaceutical science or a joint program in chemical engineering. I am interested in working on improving drug targeting mechanisms and personalized medicine.

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