Olivia graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in the fall of 2012 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering with a Research Option Certificate. As an undergraduate, Olivia worked for three years in the Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory at Georgia Tech under Drs. Barbara Boyan and Zvi Schwartz. Her initial project there was on encapsulated adipose derived stem cells and their ability to stimulate cartilage regeneration. She was mentored by Dr. René Olivares-Navarete for her independent senior thesis project, which focused on hydrogels created from decellularized shark and pig cartilages for the promotion of chondrogenesis of mesenchymal stem cells. Olivia also interned with Dr. Stephen Badylak at the University of Pittsburgh as an NSF REU recipient in the summer of 2011. There, Olivia’s project focused on porcine dermis and urinary bladder extracellular matrix coated polypropylene meshes for use in stomach hernia repair. Olivia joined the McDevitt laboratory in the fall of 2012 as a Ph.D. student in Bioengineering. Her various research experiences as an undergraduate have inspired her current research on studying the ability of the extracellular matrix to modulate stem cell differentiation.
Olivia is currently developing particles of decellularized porcine tissues that can be used to mediate differentiation of embryonic and mesenchymal stem cells. She is interested in the effects of both the structural and biochemical cues provided by the extracellular matrix on modulating stem cell phenotype, particularly in the context of tissue engineering applications.
Travel Award Winner for Poster Presentation at GA Tech Research & Innovation Conference (Spring 2013)
Georgia Institute of Technology President's Fellowship (Fall 2012)
2nd Place for Oral Presentations in College of Engineering for GT's UROP Research Symposium (Spring 2012)
Honorable Mention NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (Spring 2012)
NSF REU Recipient through Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative (Summer 2011)
Finalist for TERMIS SYIS 2010 Poster Competition (December 2011)
Parker H. Petit Undergraduate Research Scholar (January – December 2010)
Bulloch County Georgia Tech Alumni Association Scholarship Recipient (Fall 2008 – Spring 2009)