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CIE Researcher of Distinction, February 2016

Crystal LewisCrystal Lewis

Each month, the Center for Inclusive Education showcases the outstanding research being conducted by one of our talented scholars in our Research Café series. In addition, we recognize this scholar as a Researcher of Distinction and share the details of his/her journey to becoming an accomplished scholar. This month's Researcher of Distinction is Crystal Lewis, PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry. Crystal presented her talk, ‘Probing the Potential Use and Cytotoxicity of Iron Oxide (α-Fe2O3) Nanorhombohedra for CNS Therapy’ on Thursday, February 18, 2016.

Crystal's Path Into Research

I was born in Georgetown, Guyana and raised in Mandeville, Jamaica. My love for sciences began while I attended high school at Pine Forge Academy in Pennsylvania. I earned a BS in Biochemistry at Oakwood University where I became interested in research after listening to a talk given by my department chair. I had the opportunity to complete a research internship at Ohio State University and worked on multifunctional lipoplex nanoparticles for theranostic applications. As an undergraduate, I continued my research on biocompatible nanofibers for drug delivery. Currently, I am an AGEP-T FRAME and Turner Fellow pursuing my PhD in Chemistry.

Crystal's Current Research

Describe the work you presented for your Research Café.

Microglia are phagocytotic cells of the brain that have been identified as the first line of defense when the brain has either undergone severe injury or been perceptibly impacted by neurodegenerative diseases. As a result, we have synthesized Rhodamine B (RhB) labeled-α-Fe2O3 N-Rhomb, possessing lengths of 47 ± 10 nm and widths of 35 ± 8 nm. Exposure of the cultured microglia cells to RhB-labeled α-Fe2O3 N-Rhomb was observed and studied as a function of concentration, and results demonstrated an increase in both cellular iron content and cellular fluorescence, as noted using transmission electron microscopy and confocal microscopy, respectively. Under these experimental conditions, the cells maintained a functional viability of ~80% or higher, and as a result, represent a promising potential platform for central nervous system (CNS) therapy.

Are there any other projects you are currently working on?

I am currently working on yttrium manganite and metal ferrites to observe their magnetic properties.

What was the deciding factor for you to come to Stony Brook for your graduate studies?

The deciding factor for choosing Stony Brook was the amount of research that focused on nanomaterials.

What are your future goals?

My future goal is to ultimately work with the National Institute of Health, and to mentor underrepresented populations and teach in third world countries.

What do you enjoy most about research?

What I enjoy most about research is the ability to manipulate nanoscale structures to any shape imaginable just by tailoring specific parameters.