University of Georgia: Outstanding Research, Vibrant Community

Excellent education starts with passionate educators and supportive colleagues – and Manjyot Kaur Chug knows this best.

“Being part of a friendly lab environment has helped me make some really good friends from different parts of the world,” she says. “These friends come from the lab of Dr. Brisbois, Dr. Handa, my roommates and many others from the University of Georgia,” says the student who studies for them PhD in biomedical engineering.

This support she felt started even before she started her studies at UGA. Previously, she completed several research stays at the University of Central Florida, Harvard Medical School and the Indian Institute of Science.

It was at these institutions that Chug discovered a talent for research—so much so that she was determined to build a career leading an independent research group.

That Faculty of Chemistry, Materials and Biomedical Engineering was the perfect setting to hone her technical know-how to master the biggest challenges in her discipline.

Chug had to work with her mentor dr Elizabeth Brisbois. “She served as my PhD mentor during these 4.5 years of my PhD, providing insight and advice to our field of biomaterials and biomedical engineering,” she explains. “She motivated me to achieve things beyond my capabilities and kept me constantly progressing in my work.”

This student-professor dynamic goes beyond a professional relationship. “Over the years, we’ve grown close enough to get together outside of our lab environment,” says Chug. “These interactions, whether it’s coffee, food or celebrations, bring us ever closer together. All of these experiences have been important in maintaining and enhancing our mentee-mentor relationship.”

dr Brisbois agrees. “My research group has regular journal clubs, potlucks, and other get-togethers to bring us all together and help build a supportive team both in the lab and in person as students make their way through their degree programs,” she says.

Not only does it help relieve the tension of tackling complicated technical problems, but it also encourages students to think creatively. Finally, the School of Chemical, Materials and Biomedical Engineering conducts research in three core areas, with an emphasis on translational and applied research in the areas biomanufacturing, Medical devices and biomaterialsand advanced therapeutics.

The ones in the lab of Dr. Brisboi’s work is an excellent example of how hands-on experience can impact one’s career. “I had the opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant for her internship. During my experience as a teaching assistant to Dr. Brisbois, I helped design the course and experiments,” explains Chug, emphasizing that her responsibilities were more than a typical teaching assistant.

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The Brisbois lab has become a place where hands-on experience can boost future careers. Source: University of Georgia

This arrangement was intentional—the kind possible with a culture to build a thriving research community and allow students to assume the mantle of faculty member. “This opportunity was so unique and beneficial to me as it gave me the opportunity to directly apply my lab work and knowledge to educate undergraduate students,” enthuses Brisbois.

The doctoral student also had the opportunity to take part in the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps. This public-private partnership helps transform scientific and engineering discoveries into useful technologies. Thanks to a grant from NSF in 2017, UGA was designated as the location of I-Corps.

Here, attendees had access to resources that build, develop, and nurture entrepreneurial teams interested in bringing their ideas, technology, device or process, or other intellectual activity to market—something Chug really appreciated. “I connected with various executives, scientists and other I-Corps members, which allowed me to learn about all the different characteristics and branches of product commercialization,” she shares.

your favorite memory? interview with dr Bob Langer – a renowned engineer, inventor, scientist and entrepreneur. “Interviewing him was truly a dream come true that will leave a lasting impression on me,” says Chug.

University of Georgia - Faculty of Chemistry, Materials and Biomedical Engineering

UGA Student Societies are an ideal platform for graduate students to participate in activities that match their research interests. Source: University of Georgia, Facebook

This supportive environment and this culture are also reflected in the professional societies of the UGA. Chug is a member of several student associations at the university and at national conferences. “I’m a student member of the Society of Biomaterials and lead the effort as a student representative for the Surface and Characterization Special Interest Group,” she says.

The Brisbois lab is also a hub for students from around the world – allowing for a unique exchange of perspectives. “One of the best parts of our group potlucks is getting together and trying all the foods and traditions from their home countries,” says the professor.

It’s clear that the UGA is committed to research and culture that drive progress in broad areas of life, making it an attractive location for aspiring researchers. If your interest is piqued, join UGA in search of a brighter future apply here today.

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