High schooler working with Texas A&M biomedical engineering shines at science fair

Shankar, SujaySujay Shankar, a junior at A&M Consolidated High School who is working with Assistant Professor Akhilesh Gaharwar of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University, has been honored with several awards at the Austin Energy Regional Science Festival for his research project developing biomaterials for medical implants. 

For his work with Gaharwar and graduate student Charles W.Peak, Shankar received the Austin Energy Best of Fair Award, the ASM Material Education Foundation Award, the I-SWEEP Award, and the U.S. Navy/Marine Science Award. In addition, he also has been named a finalist for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair scheduled to take place this May in Phoenix. 

Shankar’s project focuses on developing bioink for 3-D printing applications, Gaharwar notes. Three-dimensional printing provides an effective solution to tissue and organ failure. However, a vital aspect as well as a bottleneck to the design and implementation of a 3-D printing system for biomedical applications is bioink, he explains. Looking to address the challenges associated with bioink, Shankar is developing a mechanically stiff and cell-compatible material for 3-D printed tissues and organs that can potentially be used for transplantation. This research, Gaharwar says, will not only solve the organ transplant problem but also has potential to make a significant impact in areas such as stem cell engineering, wound and surgical sealants, and drug delivery. 

The Austin Energy Regional Science Festival is one of Texas’ largest regional science fairs with almost 3,000 students, ranging from third through 12th grade. It encourages and rewards innovative student research and provides scientists, engineers and other professionals a chance to volunteer in the community. 

About the Department of Biomedical Engineering
Committed to solving the world’s greatest health problems through the exploration of new ideas, integrated research and innovation, the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M is producing the next generation of biomedical engineers, developing new technologies and new jobs, and achieving revolutionary advancements for the future of health care. The department has unique strengths in regenerative engineering, medical augmentation, molecular diagnostics/theranostics, tele-health, and precision medicine, and its faculty members are internationally recognized with collaborative relationships that span engineering, physical and natural sciences, medicine and veterinary sciences.