2021 Mayer Scholarship Recipient

The Department of Physics is pleased to announce that Daniel O’Brien is the recipient of the 2021 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 of micro-scale medical devices. For the duration of the fellowship, he will be finishing the process of building a flexible, Band-Aid-like device for transdermal biomarker sensing. This device utilizes thin-film deposited gold heaters to painlessly ablate micropores in the outermost epidermal layer of human skin. Dermal interstitial fluid (the liquid surrounding bodily cells) then exudes from the skin, allowing in situ testing of biomolecular concentrations or easy collection of the fluid for off-site detection. 

In addition to device design and fabrication, Dan also studies the material properties of the flexible polymers that he employs in lab. Over the last year, he has worked to describe the diffusion and adsorption of surfactant molecules embedded in the silicone ‘PDMS.’ One resulting paper was published in the Journal of Microelectromechanical Systems, while the another is in preparation for submission.