Two women chemical engineering students at TTU win three awards for their research

What do you get when you combine two female chemical engineering majors and a Tennessee Tech University research project?

The answer is three local and regional awards in one week when the students are Hope Sedrick of Hixson and Jennifer Bollig of Hendersonville.

The two worked under the co-direction of Holly Stretz, assistant professor of chemical engineering, and Pedro E. Arce, professor and chair of chemical engineering, on a project to study the effect of charged nanoparticles to modify the architecture of gel-like materials in the separation of proteins. The practical application of the project could have an impact on time-released drug delivery and on the design of tissue scaffolds.

A research poster about that topic took third place in the student category recently at the regional meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineering in Columbia, S.C.

It went on to win a first place award for undergraduate research at the Southeast conference of the American Society of Engineering Educators and took an award at TTU’s Research Day in the chemical engineering division’s undergraduate category.

“Their work was also instrumental in obtaining the ‘proof of concept’ of the first research proposal submitted to N.I.H. from chemical engineering in recent years,” Arce said.

Bollig is also captain of the AIChE car team here at TTU. At the organization’s regional meeting in Columbia, S.C., the team qualified the car to compete in the national competition this fall and received the award for the most innovative driving technology. While many teams buy cells for their cars from industrial manufacturers, TTU’s team designs and builds its own.

She also received the Senior of the Year award this year from the chemical engineering faculty and student members of TTU’s Omega Chi Epsilon chapter. She has accepted a process engineer position at Eastman to work on energy-related projects.

Sedrick will be working on a summer undergraduate research fellowship through the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Fewer than 100 such fellowships from across the country are awarded each year. Sedrick’s will put her to work in the chemical science and technology lab of the National Institutes of Health’s Cancer Institute. The project she will be working on will relate to the use of microfludics to research the potential growth of cancerous tumors.

Sedrick was also one of six students selected by TTU to represent the university in the Capitol Science Fair this year in Nashville. She plans to pursue graduate studies in chemical engineering at TTU in the fall.

Pedro Arce, professor and chairperson of TTU’s chemical engineering department, describes Bollig and Sedrick as role models. “I hope that their success stories motivate other female students to follow in their paths,” he said.

“Hope and Jenny are two excellent examples of undergraduate students involved in research projects,” Arce said. “They have been truly wonderful ambassadors for the department, both within and outside the university, and have worked tirelessly to increase the visibility of the department and motivate other students to choose TTU for engineering.”

Bollig is the daughter of Dr. Stephen Bollig and Patricia Bollig of Hendersonville, and Sedrick is the daughter of Greg and Mary Sedrick of Hixson.