As a bioengineering major, Carissa has gained knowledge that she plans to use to help create a better living environment in her community.
Carissa Keung received her BS in Bioengineering from UMass Dartmouth in May 2022 (Photographer: Karl Dominey).
Carissa, as an undergraduate bioengineering student in the College of Engineering, you pursued a research-intensive academic experience – from your main capstone project, to internships, to faculty-guided projects . Please let us know your experiences.
“I worked as a research intern at Theromics, Inc. as well as Massachusetts General Hospital, Cardiovascular Research Center. Theromics sponsored my senior synthesis project. The goal of my research was to use HeatSYNC Thermal Accelerant in tandem with microwave ablation to increase the effectiveness of anti-tumor treatment for cancer patients while reducing adverse drug reactions. Under the direction of Dr. Park, my synthesis team demonstrated proof of concept with drug-infused HeatSYNC gel as an enhanced thermal accelerator while maintaining drug level over an extended period of time during this surgical procedure.
At Massachusetts General Hospital, Cardiovascular Research Center, my research project was to better understand the role of smooth muscle cell abnormalities in stroke. I learned different research techniques such as DNA extraction, PCR and gel electrophoresis for genotyping. I also learned how to take care and raise colonies of mice, give injections and observe surgical operations on mice in a very reputable university laboratory.
And I’m currently working at Elpis Pharmaceuticals as a protein production research intern, developing therapies that target and activate the immune response to eradicate tumors and deliver better outcomes for patients with hard-to-treat and resistant cancers.
Have you done research on campus?
“Yes, I worked in different bioengineering labs while studying on the UMass Dartmouth campus, including Dr. Chen-Lu Yang’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Bioengineering Lab. The goal of my research was to make single-use containers from cellulose nanofiber, an alternative to plastic to minimize environmental impact.
I also worked in Dr. Li’s bioengineering lab, where the goal of my research was to prepare hydrogels using two polysaccharides, chitosan (CH) and sodium alginate (SA). Our research has been to determine the optimum weight ratio of CH-SA that results in the highest tensile strength.
What about any leadership experience?
“As president of Habitat for Humanity, I have led other students in volunteer projects, including preparing personalized books and clothing packages for local children who are homeless or living in poverty. through GiftsToGive and with the common goal of giving back to the community.
I also started a women’s group with other volunteers to improve early literacy for students from kindergarten to Alfred J. Gomes Elementary School. I taught reading and writing to kindergarten students at this school and it gave me a better understanding of the different educational opportunities in different communities. This leadership experience has helped me find better ways to serve different groups within my community.
What are your plans after graduation?
“After graduation, I plan to explore new scientific frontiers through research and continue to learn. I will apply my knowledge of bioengineering to help other people suffering from diseases and to create a better living environment in my community. I have accepted a full-time position at Massachusetts General Hospital as a clinical research coordinator. At the same time, I will complete my master’s program in biomedical engineering and biotechnology at the ‘fall.
What advice would you give incoming UMassD students?
“I would say study hard but also get out in the community. Try new activities, clubs and sports and discover what excites you. Learn as much as possible because life goes fast. Knowledge is power and can help you grow in all aspects of life.
Any final thoughts on your educational experience?
“I would like to thank all of the faculty in the bioengineering department for their support and encouragement throughout my four years at UMass Dartmouth.”