Space Algae

My PhD research centered around using algae culture for simultaneous air revitalization (carbon dioxide fixation/oxygen provision) and thermal control (using the water-based algal media as a heat sink). I investigated the impact of a dynamic temperature environment (representative of a thermal control system) on the photosynthetic rate of algae. I found that oxygen production was slightly suppressed, but not significantly reduced, for cultures in dynamic temperature environments. These resulting data estimated the volume of algae required to service multiple crew members.

I designed and built multiple photobioreactors that incorporated gravity-independent designs and replicated the thermal regime of a spacecraft thermal loop. These fully automated designs included gas provision with monitoring by gas analyzers, pH, dissolved oxygen, and temperature sensors. Daily physiological measurements were taken using a spectrophotometer (optical density), pulse-width modulator fluorometry (chlorophyll fluorometry), and hemocytometer (cell counts). I used these data to observe algal growth response to environmental treatment.

Laparoscopic Grasper Teaching Aid

The goal of this research project was to design, prototype, and test a laparoscopic grasper for minimally invasive surgery (MIS) equipped with haptic feedback to the users hands. This project had one major constraint, the unit needed to be appropriate for resource limited settings (rural China). Meaning, the device needed to be low cost, unpowered, easy to construct with readily-available materials, and not interfere with surgery. Surgery students learning MIS in high-income parts of the world use various foams to replicate the haptic resistance in the grasper handle. Resource limited settings typically use beans, stones, and other easily accessible materials -resulting in negative training and later crushed tissues.

The resulting design used a spring installed in existing grasper designs and relied on the force imparted on the tip of the grasper to stretch the installed spring and provide haptic feedback. A later model also included a visual/audible aid that would "pop" if too much force was imparted at the tip of the grasper when training for a particular tissue. User group testing showed significant improvement in tissue manipulation and decrease in training time.


Bioastronautics Lab Manager

While I was the lab manager for the Bioastronautics lab at the University of Colorado, we serviced 5+ research groups, 6 PhD students, and 10 undergraduate projects in a space with two thermal vacuum chambers, one environmental chamber, human-rated centrifuge, tilt translate table, and virtual reality area.

I was responsible for teaching incoming students how to use the equipment, maintaining and repairing the thermal vacuum and environmental chambers, monitoring chemical waste locations and supply inventories, and providing lab tours for high-profile individuals (NASA administrators, University executives, state government officials).

ME250 Teaching Assistant

ME250 is the first design and manufacturing class taken by mechanical engineering students at the University of Michigan. During my two years as a teaching assistant, I was responsible for instructing 160+ undergraduate students basic SolidWorks, proper machining processes and engineering drawing techniques. I was also in charge of the tool crib, ordering additional supplies as necessary, and repairing equipment (soldering irons, motors, multimeters). Additionally, I recorded instructional videos (soldering, wiring, motor building) for student reference, which are still being used today.


Come again soon to see updates on my weather station, boxing app, and tree identification app!