Thankful Pirate

As I move back into, as my friend Bill Cooper so well puts it, being a “plant rat,”  I am so thankful for all that I have been able to accomplish at East Carolina University.  I have worked with so many wonderful students, faculty and staff.  I am most proud of my many undergraduate research students who have won jobs or graduate school opportunities; and I am thankful for their support during my doctoral work.  I wish them the ultimate in success always.

I have formed some wonderful collaborations at ECU which I am transferring to the labs of my NCSU dissertation advisor Saad Khan.  I am so glad to be able to give back to him who has given me so much in guiding me through my doctoral work.  He will continue where I left off with Dr. Barbara Muller-Borer (Brody School of Medicine) to utilize the materials I developed and more towards growing cardiac tissue as well as with Pioneer Surgical Orthobiologics (Greenville, NC) to provide support and guidance in their development of new biomedical materials.

I will continue working to develop and produce materials in my new position since May at DSM Dyneema, whose products serve in a variety of areas from military protection to sutures and fishing line.  Materials science is my technical passion and I am so thankful to be able to remain in, as my friend Worth Carter says, the “Emerald City” for my children.  I also hope to continue other collaborations in the area of leadership and engineering ethics.

While at East Carolina University, I have learned lessons, sacrificed, found passion and hope, followed and led, met and worked with many wonderful people, and impacted students at various levels of learning eagerness.  I wish everyone at East Carolina University then, now and into the future the very best of everything in this world and beyond.  Go Pirates!


Simmons continues strong showing

I had the opportunity to work with Jamelle Simmons beginning in 2007, first with him as student… ultimately his instructor for 3 different courses during his time as ECU Engineering student… and then as advisor on undergraduate research.  Jamelle is a dilligent and dedicated student.   His parents are both military veterans and his brother is currently serving in the U.S. Army.

Simmons played a key role in ongoing research for four years in the Sullivan group, developing procedures and learning rheometry, solution electrospinning and SEM as well as NIR spectroscopy.  He led a project to acquire and analyze whey protein powder samples from three different producers using NIR.  Little variation in protein content limited the development of a chemometrics-MATLAB based model, but for other components of the samples it proved quite successful (i.e. lactose, fat, pH).  A draft published as a supplemental chapter in my dissertation, he is working on editing this work for potential publication in journal format.

During Simmons time at ECU, he completed two concentrations for his B.S. in Engineering – both bioprocess engineering and biomedical engineering – as well as a music minor.  He also worked as a Resident Assistant for ECU Campus Residence Life year round as well as an active member of ASHRAE and ISPE student chapters.  During summers, he supported an NSF ITEST grant as a biomechanics instructor to high school students while continuing RA duties.    In addition, Jamelle worked with Dr. Purvis Bedenbaugh on a Capstone project with NASA-Langley collaborators (Chad Stephens and Dr. Alan Pope) on a exploratory biofeedback system that would sense a persons emotional state from physiological signals and visually alert a person.  The project aimed to benefit flight pilots.  He also worked on a music therapy project with Dr. Jennifer Bugos, looking at possible cognitive improvement in persons age 60-80 through weeks of musical training.  Research has become a great passion for Jamelle. 

After graduating from ECU, Jamelle went to California Polytechnic State University where he has been working on a Master of Biomedical Engineering degree.  After finishing this degree, he intends to continue his schooling as now a true academic at heart.  During the summer of 2012, he has spent time in the ECU lab of Dr. Barbara Muller-Borer learning cell culture techniques and supporting my collaboration with her to use our biomaterial scaffolds for stem cell proliferation.  He is currently investigating the next step in his education visiting schools this summer. 

Working with Jamelle Simmons has been an honor and a pleasure.  He is dependable, responsible and mature beyond his years.  I know that he will achieve whatever he sets out to do.  My experience in academia has been worth it just to be able to work with this young man.  I look forward to watching him continue to succeed and grow in his career.  Best wishes to you in all you do Jamelle!


Former Marine charging forward

Paul Michael Cox is a former Marine with active US government security clearance working towards an engineering degree at ECU with a concentration in mechanical engineering.  He has three years experience on computer and network support, which he then took with him to the Marine Corps where he spent four years with a variety of responsibilities including maintaining and troubleshooting Unix networks and servers, establishing a network in support of aircraft maintenance while deployed to a hostile environment, conducting training for peers and subordinates, managing teams, and supporting operational needs of his company.

While working and in the Marine Corps, Paul took courses at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey (Pomona, NJ), Park University (Parkville, MO) and Carteret Community College (Morehead City, NC).  He later transferred to ECU’s engineering program in summer 2010.

As a researcher in the Sullivan group, he worked on an effort to evaluate the spring 2011 engineering project management course project.  Students had the opportunity to work with the “customer,” an experienced tank commander, as well as a SME (subject matter expert) to design a portion of a US Army RFP Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV).  Paul presented findings of the project survey data at the 2011 spring ECU Research & Creative Achievement Week.  Paul next worked on a fluid mechanics project to evaluate the influence of different configurations of a rheometer on analysis of biopolymer solutions summer through fall 2011.   In summer 2011 – spring 2012, he has also worked on a NC Department of Transportation project with Dr. Paul Kauffmann at ECU.

Paul Cox is a bright young man with impressive work experience, research and military service and will succeed at whatever he puts his mind to.    ECU looks forward to Paul completing his engineering degree and representing in the workplace as ECU engineer.  Go Paul!


bioMerieux recruits Franson

Eric Franson was recently awarded a position to work for bioMerieux in Durham, North Carolina.  It is a 1.5 year rotational program in which he will support both Quality and Manufacturing organizations within the site.  He communicated that the Quality Control position will involve “performing routine laboratory tasks in the Quality Control Microbiology, Biochemistry, or Environmental Monitoring laboratory. These tasks include raw material testing, product testing, environmental monitoring, data analysis, and ensuring test data is correctly entered into the appropriate documentation needed to satisfy bioMerieux’s quality standards.”  In the manufacturing position, he will “conduct engineering studies and activities to support process improvements in order to (1) improve safety in manufacturing, (2) improve product quality and uniformity, and (3) increase production efficiency and decrease standard costs.”   Good luck Eric on this next adventure!


Steiner scouting for opportunities

Richard Steiner, from the Cary, North Carolina area, is an ECU Engineering student concentrating in Biomedical Engineering.   While at ECU, he has worked to make new parts for and preserve the ECU Adventure Program’s Challenge Course which is used for leadership and team building for faculty, staff and students.  Richard, an Eagle Scout, has also been very successful on ECU’s campus academically.  He has helped to start the Biomedical Engineering Society.  He has also earned such honors including Golden Key international honors society and Phi Eta Sigma (Freshman Honor Society), consistently on either the Dean’s or Chancellor’s List, and is on track to graduate summa cum laude, which is no easy feat in engineering.  Richard first expressed interest in Sullivan group research in Sullivan’s Engineering Computer Applications course and has been training in both Sullivan group and Muller-Borer labs.  Going forward, Richard will continue to support as he can the Sullivan/Muller-Borer collaborative effort on tissue engineering during his studies at ECU as he enters his junior year at ECU.  Congratulations to Richard on his academic achievements so far and continued success!


Rice starched up for progress

Clay Rice is an ECU Engineering student who has been working his way through school.  He worked in the Sullivan group laboratory Summer 2010 – Spring 2011, presenting a poster at the 2011 ECU Creative Achievement & Research Week symposium with Joseph Rose on their work with pullulan-cyclodextrin blend nanofibers. 

Prior to starting at ECU, Clay worked as an electrician for PCX Corporation in Clayton, North Carolina, reading blue prints and complex wiring schematics for electrical panel installations.  He also worked alongside and solved electrical/mechanical problems with licensed engineers.  This work inspired him even more to work towards his engineering degree.   His team’s freshman engineering robot project won in competition over 10 other teams, and he was project manager of his semester service learning project for the Engineering Project Management course.  For the Sullivan group, he helped install and develop protocols for lab equipment as well as assisted with and performed experiments using a Rheometer, Tensiometer, Ph/Conductivity meter, and an Olympus Reflected Light Microscope.  Clay has demonstrated incredible teamsmanship, dedication and drive throughout his life and will serve as an outstanding engineer in his career.  The Sullivan group has been honored to have him a part.  Good luck Clay in all of your future endeavors!


Young Stephanie training for success!

Stephanie Nguyen is a bioprocess engineering student with excellent dedication.  She has shadowed upper level students in the laboratory and is poised to continue undergraduate research for the remainder of her three years at ECU.  She is a member of ECU Engineering Ambassadors, served as Fall 2011 graduation marshall, and volunteered for many events including STEM girls, the North Carolina Undergraduate Research & Creativity Symposium held at the East Carolina Heart Institute in Fall 2011, science fair, and a go science event.  She also enjoys rock climbing and speaks Vietnamese along with English.  Her positive attitude and smile has been a joy in the lab and she has been a welcome addition to the Sullivan Group.  For her next steps, she may take an opportunity to work in the Lemasson laboratory at ECU’s Brody Medical School, where Dr. Sullivan’s friend and colleague Dr. Isabelle Lemasson is working to better understand and treat cancer.  Continued success to Stephanie in her studies!


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