PeerJ Award Winner: UT Dallas Meeting in Miniature 2022

Following on from our past collaboration with the ACS/Dallas-Fort Worth section Meeting in Miniature, PeerJ Materials Science has again sponsored an award for the Outstanding Student Presentation given at the meeting. This year, the award was won by PhD student Thomas Howlett, who recently gave us an insight into his research.

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Thomas Howlett Ph.D. student at The University of Texas at Dallas. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your research interests?

I am a 25-year-old native of north Texas in my second year of chemistry Ph.D. My research interests include metal-organic frameworks for biomedical applications. More specifically using MOFs to improve vaccine stability, delivery, and efficacy.

What first interested you in this field of research?

During my undergraduate I was looking for a research lab to join and gain experience. That is when I first read about a lab that was working on cancer therapies using nanomaterials. I ended up joining this lab and spent almost two years working to help develop these therapies which included working on copper and lanthanide MOFs. After graduating I worked in analytical chemistry labs for two years before returning to school to pursue my Ph.D.

You won the Outstanding Student Presentation award at the Meeting in Miniature, can you briefly explain the research you presented?

My research presented at ACS Meeting in Miniature is working on a way to decrease the cytotoxicity of zeolitic imidazolate framework eight, ZIF-8, a framework made of Zn and 2-methylimidazole. While it has good biocompatibility, decreasing the cytotoxicity allows for a wider range of dosing and applications.

What are your next steps?

The work for this project will be wrapped up into a paper soon and we will try applying the modified ZIF-8 to other systems to see its potential applications.

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