"While nine hours of research gave me a taste of what the research process is like, I knew that truly being involved would require a full-time commitment. This is why I applied and chose to dedicate part of my summer to continuing my research project obtained through MRADS. As a result, I gained a deeper understanding of the project, was able to take on an independent role, and gained a better idea of the path I will take in the future.

The project I was involved with seeks to develop a rapid, culture-free, bacterial detection and identification system for whole blood. This system has the potential to save lives by reducing the time-to-treatment of patients suffering from life-threatening bacterial infections. With the increased amount of time devoted to the project, I became responsible for synthesizing the gold nanoparticles that would be key to the success of the process. 

In this way, I had my own subproject which allowed me the independence to design and carry out my own experiments influencing nanoparticle size, shape, and surface charge. What I realized is that most of the research process is failure --  a continuous cycle of trial and error. There is a lot of confusion and a number of times I was left wondering why my nanoparticles were two and a half times the size I wanted them to be. Research turned out to be a lesson in diligence, which proved effective as I was eventually able to synthesize nanoparticles of the correct size.

The reward of committing to research full-time were not immediate. Only after numerous failed experiments, did I realize that much of the benefit was learning to think analytically and independently. These skills will be useful to me as I plan to pursue other research projects in the future."

-Brandon Lecznar, MRADS Alumni Scholarship Recipient