Faith Olulana was 15 when she read an article about the massive shortage of organ donors and the innovative solution of 3D-printing hearts in a lab.
This inspired her to dream of becoming a bioengineer.
There was just one problem.
“I was living in Nigeria and bioengineering wasn’t offered in any institutions there,” Olulana says. But things changed when her family immigrated to the United States and she entered the University of Maryland.
Over the summer of 2020, Olulana broadened her bioengineering skills by taking part in the Stanford Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) and was assigned to the lab of Eric Appel, a professor of materials science and engineering. Working with Andrea d’Aquino, a postdoctoral scholar in Appel’s Lab, Olulana took part in developing a potential breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes — a type of polymer, called a hydrogel, to encapsulate a drug that diabetics currently need to inject weekly.
“This technology aims to deliver four months’ worth of medication with just one injection,” she says. “This is a step forward in managing diabetic treatment.”
Beyond the technical knowledge and research skills gained in her summer at Stanford, Olulana says she learned some personal growth lessons.
“I have always tried to do everything by myself to not burden anyone,” Olulana says. “However, SURF has taught me that it is OK to reach out and ask for help. It’s been a great lesson for graduate school and life.”