Katrina A. Rieger, a Ph.D. candidate in the research lab of Professor Jessica D. Schiffman from the Chemical Engineering Department, was one of nine recipients nationally to receive an Eli Lilly Travel Award. The award is sponsored jointly by the Women Chemists Committee (WCC) of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and Eli Lilly & Company to increase the participation of women in the chemical sciences. Funding provides female graduate students and postdoctoral fellows the opportunity to travel to a national meeting and present their research. “This is a highly-competitive award and is a testament to Ms. Rieger's achievements that she was selected from a large pool of candidates,” wrote the co-chairs of the WCC awards committee.
Last August, Rieger used her award to attend the 24th ACS National Meeting in Philadelphia, where she delivered an oral presentation about her research entitled “Antibacterial Activity of Cinnamaldehyde Released via pH-Trigger from Chitosan Nanofiber Mats.” In addition, her work was showcased at an awardee poster session, was recognized at the WCC Luncheon, and she was invited to meet with Madeleine Jacobs, executive director and CEO of the ACS, Professor Cathleen Cruden, president of the Canadian Society for Chemistry, Professor Lesley Yellowlees, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, as well as other members of the WCC committee.
The Schiffman Lab engineers nano- to macro- structured materials for biomedical and environmental applications from renewable biopolymers and bioactive products. Rieger specifically designs and electrospins novel bactericidal nanofiber mats composed of natural agents, such as chitosan, from crab shells, and cinnamaldehyde, from cinnamon bark. Advanced antibacterial coatings offer an environmentally friendly approach to preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
Rieger graduated Summa Cum Laude from Oregon State University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Her diverse undergraduate research experiences range from investigating the freezing point of biodiesel formulations to developing new organic coatings for pharmaceuticals. Additionally, Rieger spent a summer in Tarragona, Spain at Faqcil Engineering S.L., where she researched the application of carbon nanotubes as a structural material for aerial vehicles. (October 2012)