2020 Mayer Scholarship Recipient

The Department of Physics is pleased to announce that Daniel O’Brien is the recipient of the 2020 Professor Walter G. Mayer Endowed Scholarship, which supports a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in experimental physics.

Daniel O’Brien

Dan’s research involves the design and fabrication and design of micro-scale medical devices. Specifically, over the duration of the fellowship, he will be focusing on the characterization of a flexible, Band-Aid-like device for transdermal biomarker sensing. This device utilizes thin-film deposited gold resistive circuits to painlessly ablate micropores in the outermost epidermal layer of the skin. Dermal interstitial fluid (the liquid surrounding bodily cells) can then hydrostatically exude from the skin, allowing for on-device testing of biomolecular concentrations, or simple collection of the fluid for off-site detection. 

Over the past year of research, Dan has developed a process for fabricating the necessary device components on flexible polymeric substrates, including polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and Kapton. Additionally, he completed a longitudinal study regarding the long-term stability of multiple polymer hydrophilization techniques, as necessary for proper device functioning. Moving forward, he hopes to finish device fabrication and transition to studies regarding the electrochemical detection of these molecules, which include glucose and multiple opioid metabolites; the latter being for a collaborative project with researchers at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.