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Posted: May 6, 2008

NJIT applauds students for studies on brain injury, glaucoma and more

(Nanowerk News) A better understanding of brain injury, a way to rejuvenate dead nerve endings and a device allowing patients to monitor their glaucoma at home, number among this year’s nine winners at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)’s annual provost’s student research day.
“What surprises me every time I walk through this showcase is the sophisticated array of research projects involving so many NJIT graduate and undergraduate students,” said NJIT Provost Priscilla P. Nelson. Nelson, who sponsors the annual juried event, noted that NJIT encourages students and professors to join forces for research projects, and professors are encouraged to lavish one-on-one attention on their students, who love it. More than 50 students participate in this annual event showing off projects they have worked on with some of the university’s most notable professors. The undergraduate and graduate students who developed the best projects are awarded prizes, including membership in Sigma Xi, the international research honor society.
More information follows about this year’s winning research. Most projects have already been presented professionally.
Biomedical engineering major and senior Jillian Nguyen, Parsippany, received the first-place honor for research on the body’s oculomotor system and the brain. She hopes to better understand how eye movements relate to areas of the brain so that one day she can help victims of traumatic brain injury and others suffering from this dysfunction strengthen damaged vision. By tracking the eye movements of three subjects, she saw sections of the brain associated with these movements that were activated.
Second-place honors went to Karina Aliaga, Lodi, a junior majoring in applied math, and Temitope Brotherson, Hackensack, a junior double majoring in math and biology. The pair used math to unravel a puzzling absence of bird species on certain islands by showing that if a small island is sufficiently close to a much larger island, then all the birds on that island may simply choose to leave.
Third-place honors went to two biomedical engineering majors Bin Lin, Harrison, and Vivian Ozoka, Jersey City. The pair, who will both graduate this May 17, 2008 from NJIT, examined the role of axons, also known as nerve fibers, in human development. It has been postulated that axons increase in length during human development, implying that mechanical forces play a crucial role. However, once human development is complete, axons cease growing. Therefore a severed nerve neither regenerates nor elongates. This project featured a miniature device that can stretch damaged axons in vitro to a length that can be implanted into an injured site.
Another upcoming graduate, Stephanie Milczarski, Montclair, who majored in applied physics, also took third-place honors with a remarkable instrument that will someday enable glaucoma patients to monitor their eye pressure at home. The best current method involves touching the cornea with a sterile probe that applies a very small force. The measurement is challenging and requires the supervision of an ophthalmologist. Milczarski, however, is part of an NJIT research team conducting a clinical trial to test a new method that measures compressibility through the eyelid with a device applied that the patient can easily and painlessly apply to the eyelid.
First-place graduate student honors went to Seon Woo Lee, Palisades Park, a doctoral candidate in electrical and computer engineering, for “Single Electron Devices Based on As-Grown Individual Carbon Nanotube Bridges and Conductive Polymers.”
Laila Jai Jallo, Newark, a doctoral candidate in chemical engineering, received second-place recognition for “Particle Surface Modification and Characterization.”
Sreeya Sreevatsa, Newark, a doctoral candidate in physics, took third place honors for “Control of Surface Chemistry by Electronic Structures.”
Source: New Jersey Institute of Technology