ECpE undergraduate Stefan Peng recognized with two research awards

Stefan Peng, an undergraduate student majoring in computer engineering at Iowa State University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECpE), has been recognized with the Stewart Research Award to support his honors project, “Development of a brain-on-a-chip microfluidic device.” Peng has also received the University Honors Program Grant along with the Stewart Research Award. Both awards will provide funding of up to $750 each in support of his honors project.

The Stewart Research Award and University Honors Program are available to students to assist in covering project expenses for honors capstone projects and other research projects.

“I am honored to receive the Stewart Research Award and a University Honors Program Grant for my research,” Peng said.

Peng began his college career as a chemical engineering student but later switched to computer engineering. He also minors in Chinese and chemistry. Peng has tried to take a wide variety of classes outside of his major. “Some of my favorites include financial accounting and a seminar on medieval literature,” Peng said.

A project that Peng is currently working on is the development of a brain-on-a-chip microfluidic device. This device contains many small wells for clusters of neural stem cells to grow in.

“By adding appropriate substances into the wells, we hope to recreate certain neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s,” Peng said.

Following the addition of those substances, the device allows for the testing of different treatments like magnetic field stimulation or the addition of different drugs.

Another project that Peng is working on involves using electric stimulation to differentiate stem cells. Attempts are being made to fabricate a device to conduct the electric stimulation experiments, according to Peng. The device is 3D-printed and is made conductive by the addition of graphene.

“Once we can reliably fabricate the devices, we will place cells within the devices and use the graphene electrodes to generate electric fields. This will allow us to observe the effect the electric fields have on the cells growing within the device,” Peng said.

“I would like to thank my professor, Donald Sakaguchi, and Kate Fonder, the graduate student I have been working with. In addition to being great mentors, I have learned a lot from them about stem cells and designing and conducting stem cell-related experiments,” Peng said.