The Itsy Bitsy Bubble

Dahin Song, SEAS ’24, Chantilly, VA

Who knew that bubbles could be so educational?

I had the opportunity of researching in the SMART lab, led by Dr. Daeyeon Lee. It is a sizable lab, one with many members and a multitude of intriguing projects. One of the main goals of the SMART lab is functionalizing microbubbles for therapeutic use in the medical field. Microbubbles are gas particles stabilized by a phospholipid monolayer shell. Since they are small enough to travel freely in our bodies’ blood vessels and respond to clinical ultrasound frequencies, ultrasound-respondent therapeutics are being researched. However, medical applications of microbubbles are limited due to their limited stability. Increasing the stability of the microbubble monolayer would not only improve medical applications but also allow us to have more freedom in its therapeutic uses.

My project was on increasing the stability of the monolayer using cholesterol; theoretically, this would decrease the permeability while maintaining the fluidity of the monolayer. Being given my own project at the get-go was initially intimidating; initial learning curve was overwhelming – along with new wet lab techniques and protocols, I learned a whole new topic well enough to ask meaningful questions. But in retrospect, throwing myself headlong into a project was the best method to immerse me in the research environment, especially as a first-time researcher. I learned how to read papers efficiently, troubleshoot research problems, navigate in a laboratory environment, and be comfortable with working independently but more importantly, with others.

This research was especially fruitful to me as a Bioengineering major since the SMART lab is a part of Penn’s Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (CBE) department. As someone who came to Penn for a holistic experience, researching in a similar yet different field allowed me to branch out academically and socially. Meeting such a diverse, intelligent, and kindhearted group was the most enriching aspect of my summer.

My summer would not have been possible without the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. Of course, the financial support was an essential part (living in the city is not cheap), but its benefits went past the price tag. Summer break is the best time to start any new endeavor without the added stress of school. With the funding, I didn’t have to worry about getting a job to financially support my time here. The most important thing this grant gave me was the ability to optimize my summer break time. This opportunity secured my research for the school year, made new connections, and allowed me to flourish this summer.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2022 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services