Title: Assistant Professor

Institute: J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida

Profile (education, etc.):

Postdoctoral training, McKay Orthopaedic Research Laboratory, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pennsylvania
PhD, Biomedical Engineering, Rutgers University
BS, Biomedical Engineering, University of Virginia

Who has been (have been) your mentor(s)?
My undergraduate research mentors were Edward Botchwey and Cato Laurencin. This was my first research experience and introduction to tissue engineering. I was then mentored by Joseph Freeman for my graduate studies and focused on developing and characterizing of a three-dimensional biomimetic scaffold for bone regeneration. Next, I matriculated into a clinical department for my postdoctoral training where I was mentored by Lou Soslowsky and worked on a tunable delivery system to mitigate tendon inflammation following injury and repair and a project investigating the role of collagen type V on tendon inflammation and remodeling. Additionally, I have been fortunate to be surrounded by a number of researchers and educators throughout my academic journey who have poured into me and bolstered my professional and personal life. Too many to name– but these people advocate for me, challenge me, and are genuinely invested in my success.

Specific Area of Interest:
My research group will investigate the regenerative and reparative processes of orthopaedic tissues to inform the development of tailored multiscale acellular tissue engineering approaches. We are particularly interested in identifying the biological and structural mechanisms that contribute to tendon’s limited healing capacity and use biomimetic matrices, tunable multifactorial delivery systems, and modified subcellular components to overcome deficiencies and complement the healing response.

What are you currently working on?
Currently I am writing collaborative grants and setting up my lab and research team. I successfully recruited my first graduate student recently and will be hiring a research assistant in the near future.

What has been the biggest challenge/issue for you lately in your research?
Developing collaborations as a new faculty member during a pandemic has been challenging. The spaces and opportunities for casual conversations that turn into collaborations are not common when in-person interactions are limited/non-existent. Therefore, I have become more intentional and proactive about initiating connections to discuss collaborative project ideas. Additionally, recruiting graduate students was a bit challenging because the entire process occurs virtually, and it can be difficult to determine ‘fit’ without meeting in person.

What project(s) are you looking forward to in the near future?
I look forward to collaborative projects and working with researchers along the basic to clinical science pathway to collectively answer research questions using multiscale analysis.

When not in the lab, what do you like to do for fun?
Well, I’m not in the lab a lot these days (pandemic!), but I enjoy gardening. I love a beautiful colorful flower bed. One of positives of living in Florida is the diverse collection of Florida-native plants, shrubs, and trees. (Fingers crossed our lemon tree bears fruit this summer!)

What is the most unusual/unexpected item sitting on your desk right now? A dog toy because my dogs, who are now attached to my husband and I since we both work from home, are sitting right under my feet as I type, and I keep their toys close in case I need to distract them while in a meeting.

Watch the  with Dr. Taylor.