Stephanie Barrena ’12

Golden Opportunities with Silver Nanoparticles

Stephanie Barrena, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering on May 20, has had golden opportunities working with silver nanoparticles.

In the summer of 2011, Barrena participated in a 10-week research internship at Worcester Polytechnic Institute funded by the National Science Foundation. She was one of seven students selected from a 170-person applicant pool. She studied silver nanoparticles, tiny units of silver used in medical and commercial industries, from medicines to sunscreens.

Barrena presented her research on the toxicity of silver nanoparticles at the Biomedical Engineering Society Conference in October 2011. It is difficult to determine negative effects of the particles on human health, she said, but scientists are still searching for an answer.

Last spring, Barrena attended the Cleveland Clinic’s 4th Annual Aspiring Physicians and Research Scientists Conference, which serves as a networking opportunity and educational workshop for minority students from around the country. Barrena received a full scholarship to attend the conference. “The Cleveland Clinic is a great program; it inspires minority students to pursue something big in the medical field,” she said.

Barrena, a Dean’s List student from Johnston, R.I., excelled in the classroom. For her capstone senior design project, she collaborated with two other students to make an Android phone application that acts as a voice control television remote for people with muscular dystrophy. The team presented its project at the Northeast Bioengineering Conference in March.

“All of my classes have been so informative, and I have learned so much that can be applied to real-life situations,” said Barrena, who works at two private physicians practices as a physician’s assistant taking patients’ vitals. “Choosing biomedical engineering as my major was the best decision I could have made.”

Barrena has applied to graduate schools with physician assistant master’s degree programs. She is also interested in cardiology and further nanoparticle research.

—Danielle Sanda