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Chancellor's Award recipient to pursue NanoBio degree ‘at home' at CNSE
Growing up in New York's Capital Region, Nick Fahrenkopf often drove by CNSE's Albany NanoTech Complex and was intrigued by it. Now, he's thrilled to have the chance to study the exciting world of nanobioscience right in his own backyard.
A senior physics major at UAlbany with an outstanding leadership and academic record, Nick was recently awarded both the distinguished Chancellor's Award for Excellence and the prestigious President's Award for Outstanding Leadership. When he became interested in nanotechnology and began to research schools, he realized that the best nanotechnology school in the world - CNSE - was right here.
A recipient of CNSE's John J. Sullivan Fellowship with plans to attend the UAlbany NanoCollege this fall to pursue his Ph.D. Nick is already a familiar face.
In the spring of 2006, Nick stepped foot into CNSE's Albany NanoTech Complex for the first time to attend Professor of Nanoscience Ernest Levine's course, Integrated Circuit Fabrication and Yield Control. The course, aimed to teach attendees the basics of chip fabrication, was not only a great introduction into the world of nanotechnology, but it also fueled Nick's desire to pursue nanotechnology.
"Through taking Professor Levine's class and interning that summer, I learned about the idea of nanobioscience, and the realization that at CNSE we learn about making devices on the order of 100 nm, while cells and biological systems are bigger. The idea of taking these skills from the nanoelectronics industry and applying them to biological and medical problems is really what sparked my interest in nanotechnology, and still does."
The following fall, Nick reached out to Assistant Professor of Nanobioscience Nathaniel Cady, and soon after began working in Professor Cady's lab while also taking a graduate-level course, Principles of Nanobiology. "I was very impressed that a classic physics student could be so successful with difficult biological concepts and material," said Professor Cady. "This is a testament to his aptitude for interdisciplinary education and his excellence as a scholar."
During his internship at CNSE, Nick also worked in collaboration with the Ge*NY*sis Center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics. This work was directed at creating microfluidic devices that could mimic environmental conditions that cancer cells experience when migrating away from a primary tumor. In working on this specific project, he successfully constructed microfluidic devices and went through a series of optimization steps to re-create the environmental conditions experienced by the migrating cancer cells.
In addition to extending his microfabrication experience, Nick also maintained mammalian tissue cultures and performed basic cell biology experiments - work that has the potential to impact the study of cancer biology and greatly improve our ability to elucidate the mechanisms involved in tumor cell dormancy and proliferation. Through this process he has learned much about cancer cells, including how to handle them, the specific environment they need to be kept in, and how to examine these cells with special microscopes.
While he is still formulating his future plans, Nick knows that nanotechnology is what he wants to pursue. Once he completes his Ph.D. at CNSE, he can see himself working in either industry or academia. For now, he is interested in getting a broad taste of the different areas within nanotechnology. "I enjoy reading about certain techniques, then getting actual hands-on experience in the lab," he said, "using different tools and techniques to manipulate matter, whether it is on a micro or nanoscale."