Engineering Undergraduates Present Impressive Summer Research

Zachary Ellenhorn ’18 ChE’s research demonstrates improvements in endoscopic surgery for esophageal cancer.
Zachary Ellenhorn ’18 ChE’s research demonstrates improvements in endoscopic surgery for esophageal cancer.

On September 21, nearly 125 Villanova University students, representing 78 different projects, participated in 2016’s Undergraduate Research Poster Day. Thirty engineering majors were among those presenting their summer research, with each discipline reflected among the students’ 16 posters. The annual event is hosted by the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Office of Research and Graduate Programs, the Department of Chemistry and the College of Engineering.

Undergraduate research opportunities are among the many distinguishing features of a Villanova Engineering education. Within the College of Engineering, students participate in undergraduate thesis projects, summer research internships or fellowships, faculty research and externally-sponsored projects completed in collaboration with industry and government agencies. Other opportunities, like the Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellows (VURF) program, are available to students across the University.

During the poster session, students were on hand to explain both the technical aspects of their work, as well as the practical application and human value of their projects. Zachary Ellenhorn ’18 ChE presented one of several Chemical Engineering posters on display. Working with researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, he studied the use of endoscopic surgery in the treatment of esophageal cancer, and how to reduce complications using photo-crosslinking treatment. Zachary looks forward to contributing to a published paper on the topic. When asked about his future plans, he mentions a desire to work at Brookhaven National Laboratory next summer, and after graduation, possibly continuing his education with a Master’s degree from Villanova.  

Andrew Meluch ’16 ME, ’18 MSSE and Stephanie Krakower ’18 CE present AtmoGEN, moisture extracting technology for drought-stricken countries.
Andrew Meluch ’16 ME, ’18 MSSE and Stephanie Krakower ’18 CE present AtmoGEN, moisture extracting technology for drought-stricken countries.

Also presenting their research were Andrew Meluch ’16 ME, ’18 MSSE, Bryan Ramirez ’18 CE, Stephanie Krakower ’18 CE and Mackenzie Bowden ’18 ChE, who focused their efforts on bringing a sustainable water source to drought-stricken Madagascar.  Through the Villanova Summer Innovation Incubator (VSII) program, the multidisciplinary team developed AtmoGEN, an efficient atmospheric water generator that uses the natural processes of solar heating and natural convention, combined with the innovative technology of 3D printing, to extract moisture from the air.

Stephanie, who interned in Madagascar for two months, explains that the project is still in the experimental phase: “We’re working on a prototype and hope to continue with the work as our senior design project.”

Other engineering research included three projects advised by Associate Professor Justinus Satrio, PhD, and three advised by Assistant Professor Jacob Elmer, both in the Department of Chemical Engineering. Dr. Satrio’s students worked in the area of biomass feedstock, while Dr. Elmer’s projects reflected his research specialties, including gene therapy and blood substitutes from earthworm hemoglobin. Chemical and Computer Engineering students teamed up on a virtual education system—also a VSII-related project—and peatland ecosystems and organ cryopreservation were two additional poster topics at this year’s event.