My name is Ben Ahlmark. I am a rising-junior chemical engineering student with a minor in chemistry. I am from Lansdale, Pennsylvania.
This summer I will be researching and writing a literature review about paper-based cancer diagnostic tests for multiple cancer biomarkers. This research is important because paper-based tests offer the opportunity for fast, reliable, and cheap diagnosis of a disease that has high economic and personal costs. By making testing for cancer more patient-friendly these tests can lower barriers such as patient non-compliance and improve public health. Paper-based tests are also very much in demand for less-developed settings because they are cheaper and easy to use in a clinical setting. I will focus my research on developments in paper-based tests to check for multiple cancer biomarkers at once. This “multiplexed testing” is important when trying to narrow down a specific diagnosis in a clinical setting. Efficient diagnosis is key to early screening as well as long term monitoring of cancer. My research mentor for the project is Dr. Little. The research in Little Lab focuses on understanding cellular and molecular interaction and using this knowledge to engineer medical solutions.
Currently my professional goals include going to graduate school to pursue a PhD and eventually pursuing a professorship at a university. In terms of my research goals I would like to do research that uses a chemical engineering perspective along with knowledge of biology and chemistry to find solutions to medical problems. In terms of my career goals, I would like to teach and do research at a university. I have held positions as both a teaching assistant and a tutor, and I really enjoyed working with students to help them understand new concepts. For this reason I would like to incorporate working with students into my career, so I believe academia will be a good fit for me.
I hope the Brackenridge Program will help prepare me for a career in the real world where cross-disciplinary conversation is essential. I specifically hope to gain career skills in presenting my research to many different audiences and in preparing work to be published. I am also very excited to learn about other people’s research. The brief introductions from our first day sounded very cool.
(Another) Fun fact: I spent last summer in the city of Tel Aviv on a summer program called Onward Israel. The program included an internship at the Weizmann Institute doing bioengineering research as well as various cultural experiences. One of my favorite experiences was the opportunity to learn about the Ethiopian-Jewish culture and traditions during a day trip run by members of that community.