NH BioMade's Aspiring Researcher at Dartmouth College

Lois Szulc describes her summer research project

Lois Szulc applied to the NH BioMade Undergraduate Research Training program after completion of a two-year Mechanical Engineering Technology program at NHTI – Concord's Community College. In addition to learning manufacturing and testing processes such as metalworking, tensile testing, metallography and 3-D printing at NHTI, Szulc also utilized her scientific knowledge in her hobby as a chicken owner. At home she designed a brace for a chicken with a broken leg, created a prototype of a unique egg incubator, and built a watering design to keep her birds clean in winter.  

As a teenager, Szulc always dreamed of doing research and her wish became reality with acceptance as an undergraduate research trainee this summer in Dr. Katie Hixon’s lab at Dartmouth College. The research focus of the Hixon Lab is tissue engineering and regenerative medicine strategies for patients with craniofacial anomalies or delayed musculoskeletal healing to develop novel therapies impacting dental, oral and musculoskeletal health. Szulc conducted research for 10 weeks under the mentorship of Dr. Hixon and PhD candidate Adelaide Cagle. She methodically evaluated electrospinning processes, refined her 3-D printing skills and collected data leading up to her final poster presentation, Electrospinning and 3D Printing to Support Tissue Interface in Osseointegration.

photo of Dr. Katie Hixon, Lois Szulc, and Adelaide Cagle
Left to Right: Dr. Katie Hixon, Lois Szulc, and Adelaide Cagle

Szulc felt extremely grateful for the research opportunity. It was a busy summer, where she and colleagues conducted research in the lab, swam in the Connecticut River, and regularly went to the gym together. Being a part of the Hixon Lab at Dartmouth increased her confidence in research and demystified the idea of what it is like to be a student there. Szulc is now considering plans to apply to Dartmouth to as an option to complete her undergraduate degree.  

NH BioMade education and workforce development activities such as undergraduate research training aim to increase the number of NH undergraduates with STEM research experience. Through recruitment and training, the goal is to provide a workforce pipeline for the future biomaterials industry in New Hampshire. The summer 2023 Undergraduate Research Training program hosted 19 trainees at Dartmouth College, Keene State College, University of NH Manchester, and the University of NH Durham.

Written by: Jennifer Baker, NH EPSCoR
Photos: Jennifer Baker, NH EPSCoR