University teaches students to study a topic and identify gaps in the body of existing research and determine areas in…More
Gregory Wiedman ’15, Q&A
What sparked your interest in Materials Science?
I have to admit, I hadn’t actually heard of “Materials Science” as a field of study until I went to college (undergrad). I was on a bioengineering track and interested in physics as well but more in an applied manner. The track mainly focused on biomechanics but I was interested in nanotechnology and realized from taking nanotech classes that, on the nanoscale, there are some interesting changes to materials properties themselves. After that I focused on taking classes mostly in Mat Sci and decided that I wanted my fundamental background to be in Materials Science.
What made you choose Hopkins?
This is an easy one! I came to Hopkins specifically to work with Dr. Hristova. I met her when I was an undergraduate student when she came for a visit to my undergrad institution. I was interested in her research studying properties of peptides using electrochemical techniques that she developed with Dr. Searson. At the time I was working in a biochemistry lab working on peptide design and Dr. Hristova convinced me that we would have a very successful time working together. I’m glad to say that she was correct.
What did your research focus on?
I studied peptides, small proteins, that could interact with your cell membrane to cause drug delivery. Many people ask what this has to do with Materials Science and I believe that it is in the way in which I approached the problem. We wanted to alter these peptides’ activities by modulating how they interacted with membranes based on our knowledge of thermodynamics. We could alter their sequences to make them more or less favorable, energetically speaking, to bind to membranes. Also, a large component of my work went into looking at how peptide structure can be changed to control binding to the cell membrane surface. I would argue that looking to control the structure and binding free energies of molecules is at the core of the engineering aspect of Materials Science.
What do you consider your biggest accomplishment in your research so far?
At the moment I believe that it would have to be the completion of a peptide library to systematically screen for the appropriate peptide activities. We found that some of the types of activities we were interested in could not be easily combined. I, along with the other people from our group and from our collaborator Dr. Wimley’s group, designed and screened a peptide library of over 18,000 sequences to find the ideal peptides that fit our criteria.
Do you have any plans after graduation?
Right now I am interviewing for postdoctoral positions. I intend to continue in academia and eventually seek a tenure track faculty position. I know these are difficult to come by these days but I feel that the training I received at Hopkins will help put me a step above other applicants.
What will be your favorite memory from your time at Hopkins?
I think it would have to be all of the memories I have of playing in the GRO summer soft ball league. Especially two years ago when we made it to the finals and almost won! I have a ton of great memories of hanging out with friends from the department; I can’t say enough about how awesome all of these people are; it’s a great community!