Undergraduate Research Program

Selina Teng

 

Major: Mechanical Engineering
Mentor: Igor Novosselov, Mechanical Engineering

Contact:seliteng@uw.edu

Current research project: Evaluation of Micro-well Collector for Capture and Analysis of Bacteriophage MS2

Selina is currently a senior studying Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Mechatronics. She is interested in developing robust models for personal exposure to anthropogenic air pollution, airborne viruses, wildfire smoke, and other harmful aerosols, and she hopes to continue this work through graduate school in Mechanical Engineering. Since January 2020, she has been a part of Novosselov Research Group, which conducts a broad range of research in aerosol science, fluid dynamics, and nonthermal plasma.

 

Translate your work so that we can all understand its importance
I am testing a microfluidic aerosol collector that collect bioaerosols and prepares samples for assay rapidly and automatically. This minimizes the user’s exposure to potentially harmful aerosols when conducting experiments. The aerosol collection applies impaction physics: where conventional filter acts like a porous net to catch particles above a certain diameter, an impactor directs particle flow through a narrow channel with a sharp bend. Particles above a certain inertia cannot make the turn and collide with the surface, while air molecules flow freely. The advantage here is that the collection surface can then be washed out using a microfluidic volume of liquid, significantly reducing the size and power constraints of the device.

 

 

When, how, and why did you get involved in undergraduate research?
I got involved in undergraduate research in the summer of my freshman year by reaching out to a professor whose research caught my attention in a UW news article, Orlando Baiocchi. I had a really positive experience working with my group, and it helped me develop an understanding of how computational and data-driven models of complex physical phenomena can be developed. I later realized that my interests lie more towards mechanical design and technology development, which pushed me to join Novosselov Research Group.

 

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
Be thoughtful and intentional about what you’re getting out of your experience. Are you learning transferable skills? Is your research mentor providing you with 1:1 support and giving you the tools you need to become a better scientist, or are you just doing grunt work for your lab? I was lucky enough to be in two research groups with incredibly supportive PIs who are deeply invested in their students’ success. However, not all professors have the bandwidth to invest enough time working with their undergraduates, and not every research group will be a good culture fit for your learning style. If you feel like your goals don’t align well with those of your group, it’s never too late to re-evaluate and explore something else.