By Jayna Miller
The chemical engineering graduate program at the University of Connecticut is comprised of bright, innovative leaders who are motivated by change and challenge. The program offers the opportunity for students to enhance their skills and develop their potential.
One student who can attest to the merits of this program is Jason White. Jason completed his undergraduate degree at UConn, and decided he wanted to continue his research here after enjoying his undergraduate experience. Throughout his time at UConn, Jason has worked with Dr. Ranjan Srivastava on analyzing biological systems and developing computational tools that deal with human health-related problems. These analyses have implications towards personalized medicine for each patient.
“Our goal is to use computational tools to understand how a disease progresses and to analyze whether treatments for patients are optimal,” Jason says. Genetic algorithms are one such method that Jason employs to develop mathematical models of biological systems from experimental data sets. He anticipates that these models could be used to help personalize medicinal treatments on a patient-by-patient basis. For instance, he created a mathematical model of an oral mucositis system, which can be simulated to help predict the outcome and potential treatment options for patients suffering with this disease.
In addition to his research, Jason has also been involved in a number of campus activities. His favorite was the GK-12 Program sponsored by the National Science Foundation, which allowed him to work once a week with technical high school students.
“I enjoyed the GK-12 experience – it gave me the freedom to develop lessons and projects, but also to continue my research as well,” he says. Through this program, he was able to work with students to build a compost water-heating system, which was presented at Lemelson-MIT’s Eureka Fest. Jason has also helped motivate students to get involved in engineering by tutoring undergraduates from Grasso Tech and by serving as a TA at UConn. In the future, Jason plans to pursue these interests and become a professor, so he can maintain the balance between teaching and his research.
During his time at UConn, Jason has earned a number of accolades for his work, such as a Unilever Scholarship, an Arnold Griffin Scholarship, and an NSF GK-12 Fellowship. He has also published two proceedings in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.