BME grad student Keely Heinz has received the prestigious 2015 Laird Fellowship that is given to one first year grad student in the College of Engineering each year to honor the memory of George W. Laird. The award is based on merit and is given to a student who demonstrates balanced excellence, combining demonstrated intellectual capability with exemplary personal character.

Keely is currently pursuing her BME PhD in John Slater’s lab,  researching the fabrication of biomimetic microfluidic hydrogel constructs for advanced cell culture platforms. Taking images of native tissue vasculature as a template, she creates 3D embedded microfluidic networks using a laser to induce complete or partial degradation of PEGDA hydrogels. These microfluidic networks, when seeded with cells, can recapitulate the exact 3D structure of vascular and other fluidic networks in the body with extremely high resolution, thus offering the potential to model in vivo transport better than current cell culture methods. This technology will ultimately be used to create microtissues for pharmaceutical testing or disease modeling.

Keely comes from Portland, Oregon and received her BS in Bioengineering and MS in Chemical Engineering from Oregon State University. While at Oregon State, she spent her summers interning at Intel, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, and Acumed. She also spent two years abroad, the first year in Denmark as an exchange student at the Danish Technical University, and the second in Germany as a selected US participant in the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange Program. Upon her return, Keely conducted her MS research with Dr. Joe McGuire, developing a hemocompatible surface coating for a microfluidic hemodialysis unit.