2010 Summer Research Program and International Internship Hosted by the Musculoskeletal Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh

During the summer of 2010, 10 undergraduate students from local and national universities were recruited for research experiences for 10 weeks, where the students independently carried out real-life research projects. 2 of the 10 students, Mr. Ben Rothrauff from Northwestern University and Ms. Elizabeth Chen from Rice University took on the research projects funded by the ERC under the guidance of Dr. Savio Woo. Through this program, they learned how to write a scientific proposal, conduct research in a multidisciplinary team environment with researchers from diverse backgrounds, and presented their work in meetings attended by peers and mentors. The works of these two students have laid foundation for the main projects of our ERC initiated projects (Please see the attached abstracts). Also, through one-on-one mentorship between the graduate students/postdoctoral fellows and the undergraduate students, the mentors obtained valuable experience of guiding a student intellectually and personally through a research project.
In the fall semester of 2010, 2 undergraduate students from ORT Braude College of Engineering from Israel came to the MSRC for a 4 month internship in association with our ERC program. Mr. Nachshon Rothman, a senior from Braude College, worked with one of our ERC PhD student, now Dr. Matt Fisher, to carry on the project that evaluated the Mg screws through in-vitro biomechanical testing. Based on the results of the Mr. Rothman, the Mg screws made of the alloy AZ31 were chosen for the in vivo study we performed in year 3. Mr. Eran Goldberg, also a senior from Braude College, worked with Mr. Kwang Kim, PhD student participating in the ERC, to study the degradation of various Mg alloys and the effects of surface polishing on the degradation profile. Mr. Goldberg’s work showed that the polished magnesium surface accelerates the degradation compared to an oxidized surface. Through this program, the international interns were given a rare chance to independently conduct biomedical research under the guidance of experienced mentors. At the same time, it was a great opportunity for the mentors to experience the international perspective and ability to work with people of diverse backgrounds.

Ben giving his presentation with style                       Josh and Tavia giving a joint presentation

Dr. Woo’s closing remarks