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Engineering with Cells & Gels

My research expertise is in designing hydrogel soft materials platforms for chemical and biological engineering applications. Building on my experience in biomaterials, tissue engineering, bioprinting, microbiology, and complex fluids, I am tackling engineering problems spanning regenerative medicine, soft materials 3D printing, and environmental science. Scroll to learn about my doctoral and postdoctoral work, as well as a list of my Publications

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Research & Publications: Text

Functionalized Biopolymer Hydrogels


Biopolymers are excellent for building biocompatible hydrogel platforms. As a doctoral candidate in the Burdick Lab @ UPenn, I developed my expertise in chemical functionalization of biopolymers to form advanced hydrogel biomaterials. I have used a library of covalent, dynamic, physical, and stimuli-responsive chemistries to modify biopolymers and fabricate hydrogels with highly tunable behaviors.

Granular Hydrogels


Granular hydrogels consist of jammed hydrogel microparticles - like making sand out of Jell-O! These soft, porous materials combine properties of hydrogels (high water content, tunable chemistry, squishy mechanics) with granular materials (flowability and adaptability, building-block nature, micro-porosity). In my Ph.D., I developed hyaluronic acid granular hydrogel biomaterials for tissue engineering. In my postdoctoral studies in the Datta Lab @ Princeton, I am studying microbial community behavior in porous environments using granular hydrogels as a model media. 

Soft Materials (Bio)printing

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Soft Materials (Bio)printing is an emerging technology that utilizes biomaterial-based hydrogel inks to build 3D environments to investigate biological questions and address unmet bioengineering needs. In my doctoral work at UPenn, I designed enhanced granular hydrogel inks for extrusion 3D printing. As a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton, I am using particle-based hydrogel support baths for embedded bioprinting of microbial communities.

Cell Culture In Vitro Models


Biocompatible hydrogels can be used as 3D environments for creating complex in vitro models for both biomedical and environmental applications. In my Ph.D. work in the Burdick Lab, I used hydrogels to study mammalian cell culture for regenerative medicine applications. As a postdoctoral researcher in the Datta Lab, I am using hydrogels as a naturally-mimicking 3D environment to investigate microbial community interactions in porous media in real-time.

Engineering Injectable Therapeutics

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Injectable hydrogels offer great potential for tissue repair and localized cell & drug delivery. As a Ph.D. candidate in the Burdick Lab, I developed a radiopaque injectable granular hydrogel for treating spinal disc degeneration - a disease that causes chronic back pain and impacts millions of people each year.

Tinkering & Biomaterials Research


Ever since I was a kid, I have always been a crafter and a tinkerer. I love build "DIY" custom set ups for biomaterials investigations. In my doctoral work, I built simple Arduino-based systems to create unique and impactful experiments for studying flow behavior and mechanical loading of hydrogels. I plan to bring the tinkering spirit to my future lab to encourage creative and innovative investigations!

Research & Publications: Research


1. V.G. Muir, M.E. Prendergast, and J.A. Burdick. “Fragmenting Bulk Hydrogels and Processing into Granular Hydrogels for Biomedical Applications”, J. Vis. Exp. 2022. (LINK)

2. T.H. Qazi, V.G. Muir, J.A. Burdick. “Methods to characterize granular hydrogel rheological properties, porosity, and cell invasion”. ACS Biomat. Eng. 2022. (LINK)

3. V.G. Muir, T.H. Qazi, S. Weinstraub, B. Moldanado, P. Arratia, and J.A. Burdick. “Sticking Together: Injectable Granular Hydrogels with Increased Functionality via Dynamic Covalent Inter-particle Crosslinking”. Small. 2022. (LINK​)

4. T.H. Qazi, J. Wu, V.G. Muir, S. Weintraub, D. Lee, S. Gullbrand, D. Issadore, J.A. Burdick. “Anisotropic Rod-Shaped Particles Influence Injectable Granular Hydrogel Properties and Cell Invasion”. Advanced Materials, 2021.  (LINK)

5. V.G. Muir, T.H. Qazi, J. Shan, J. Groll, J.A. Burdick, “Influence of Microgel Fabrication Technique on Granular Hydrogel Properties”, ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng. 2021. (LINK)

6. V.G. Muir and J.A. Burdick, “Chemically-modified Biopolymers for the Formation of Biomedical Hydrogels”, Chem. Rev. 2021. (LINK)

7. *C.T. Greco, *V.G. Muir, T.H. Epps, III, and M.O. Sullivan. “Efficient tuning of siRNA dose response by combining mixed polymer nanocarriers with simple kinetic modeling.” Acta Biomaterialia. 2017. *Denotes co-first authors (LINK)

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Research & Publications: Text
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