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Hurley receives travel grant to international science congress

Katherine "Katie" Hurley has received a competitive American Chemical Society travel award to attend the 4th European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences Chemistry Congress (EuCheMS) in Prague, Czech Republic, August 25-31.

Hurley, a second-year graduate student working under the tutelage of her adviser, Professor Christy Haynes, will be presenting her recent work which deals with investigating the transverse relaxivity of magnetic mesoporous silica nanoparticles in various environments.

The Haynes group has expertise in the design and synthesis of mesoporous silica nanoparticles as drug delivery vehicles, and researchers work to incorporate extra functionalities, like imaging, that would make them even more beneficial. Several groups have incorporated iron oxide nanoparticles (magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents) into mesoporous silica via a core/shell architecture, but researchers typically only evaluate relaxivity (the quality of the MRI contrast) at one time point and in deionized water. By investigating synthetic and environmental changes, the Haynes group has discovered that environment plays a huge role in relaxivity behavior over time, which is important for personalized medicine. In particular, researchers have found that the incorporation of a hydrothermal treatment during synthesis is helpful for maintaining relaxivity stability, even in complex environments like salted or acidic solutions.

Hurley's research interests involve the design and synthesis of multifunctional mesoporous silica nanoparticles as theranostic agents (particles that supply diagnosis and therapy simultaneously).

"I am excited about this opportunity because I am considering doing a post-doc or even having a long-term academic career in Europe, and visiting Prague will give me a better idea of what I really want," said Hurley.