We are an experimental cell and tissue biomechanics laboratory focused on understanding the role of mechanics in disease initiation and progression. We are currently involved in studies utilizing in vitro models of tumor growth in order to probe the relationship between tumor cells and their biomechanical environment.
We are an interdisciplinary team of mechanical, manufacturing, materials, and biomedical engineers as well as biophysicists and biologists. If you are interested in joining our collaborative team, check out the Contact page.
Emma defended her masters thesis (with actual people, socially distanced, in the auditorium! as well as others online) “The effect of substrate stiffness on healthy and neurofibromatosis type 1 Schwann cell morphology and traction stress generation”.
Francesca begins her masters project investigating time- and length scale-dependent mechanical properties of soft agarose gels.
Christina continues her undergraduate research for her masters project on in vitro modeling the mammary duct to investigate biomechanical factors of the DCIS to IDC transition in breast cancer.
Congratulations to Samuel for his excellent presentation “Analysis of Matrix-Dependent Traction Force and Stress Generation with Traction Forcce Microscopy” winning 1st Place at the 12th Annual RPI Undergraduate Research Symposium!
Jonathan’s work on the development of a mammary duct model to investigate the influence of biomechanical factors on the transition from Ductal Carcinoma In Situ to Invasive Ductal Carcinoma was published in a special edition of Tissue Engineering Part A on Oncology and Tissue Engineering.
RPI issued a press release on that publication.
Congratulations Jonathan and Jamie!
The Mills Lab is trying to make the best of quarantine….
View Dr. Mills’s 5-minute Lightning Talk “Rapid fabrication of micro-scale collagen bundles and their application in studies of tumor cell-matrix interactions,” presented at this year’s virtual Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering, and Biotransport Conference.
Zoe Stetson, a sophomore in biomedical engineering, joins the lab.
She and Christina Rogers will both receive NSF REU (research experience for undergraduates) stipends to develop Outreach modules for the Engineering Ambassadors program and do literature review and develop research plans for when we can return to the lab.
Welcome Zoe and congratulations to you both!
Gavin Mays graduated with BS, Jamie with MS, and Jonathan with PhD!
At RPI’s campus-wide 11th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium Gavin Mays won 1st place for his poster, “Plexiform Neurofibroma Schwann Cells show greater cell-substrate interactions compared to Healthy Schwann Cells”. Samuel Chen received an honorable mention for his poster, “Establishing an in vitro Model for Quantitative Analysis of Breast Cancer Intra-tumoral Heterogeneity”.
Congratulations to Gavin and Samuel!
Jamie Gearhart won the MANE Department’s Michael A. Sodowsky Prize recogning outstanding scholarship and demonstrated ability in the application of mechanics.
Double congratulations Jamie!!
Samuel Chen won the Charles D. Dyce Prize, in recognition of demonstrated high scholastic ability and involvement in extracurricular activities and potential for constructive leadership.
Jamie’s master’s thesis is titled, “A study on utilizing multi-scale indentation and compression methods to robustly characterize the mechanical properties of viscoelastic materials”, and her results are integral to an upcoming paper (stay tuned).
Samuel Chen, a sophomore mechanical engineering student, joins the lab.
Congratulations to Sarah Ahearn on her graduation with a BS degree in biomedical engineering!
Congratulations to Aly Tremblay on her graduation with an MEng in mechanical engineering and finishing up her project titled, “Spreading Behavior and Morphology of NF1 and NF2 Fibroblasts”!
And, congratulations to the lab’s first PhD: Xiangyu Gong!
We wish you all the best!
Xiangyu successfully defended his thesis titled, “A Multiscale Study Revealing the Interplay Between Tumor Growth and the Three-Dimensional Extracellular Matrix”.
We had a record number of abstracts accepted – both grad and undergrads – to present posters at BMES.
Xiangyu, Jonathan, Rufeng, Aly, Jamie, Sarah, and Gavin braved the van ride down to Philadelphia with Dr. Mills!
Christina Rogers, a sophomore in biomedical engineering, joins the lab. She will work with Jonathan on an in vitro model of the mammary duct to study the effects of the physcial environment on the invasive transition of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).
Engineering Exploration is a week-long residential program for high school students (rising juniors or seniors) to experience hands-on activities that introduce them to the various engineering fields.
Sarah Ahearn serves as a group leader and mentor for a group of 24 students for the week!
Xiangyu helps out in the mechanical engineering lab!
Thank you Sarah and Xiangyu!
Micah Rambo, who recently completed his BA in Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology at Whimann College, joined the lab. Micah will be studying the biomechanics of tumors associated with neurofibromatosis type I.
Sarah will continue to build on the work of Elly Pontius and study the effects of production method on tumor spheroids.
Gavin Mays will begin an investigation into Schwann cell behavior in our 3D in vitro matrix models.
Welcome Sarah and Gavin!
Ashok Williams defended his masters thesis titled “Designing 3D fiber reinforced hydrogels for in vitro cell studies” in which he describes the project he took on, in collaboration with Prof. Johnson Samuel’s lab, to develop a continuous hybrid manufacturing process to make fiber-reinforced composite hydrogels. The first hydrogel-embedded 3D random fibrous network for cell studies.
The award for Dr. Mills’s work titled, Force-Generating Mechanisms Responsible for Matrix-Dependent Compressive Mechanical Feedback During Tumor Growth, will support the lab’s research on how tumor cells transduce mechanical force and outreach efforts including engaging visits to local high school classrooms to talk about the interdisciplinary nature of cell biomechanics and mechanobiology research.
Aly Tremblay receives her BS in biomedical engineering this term as she finishes up her undergraduate requirements. Exciting news is that she’s decided to stay on at RPI and in the lab to work on her MEng project in mechanical engineering! Aly will continue with her project on studying the dynamics of cell spreading with the NF fibroblasts.
Jaime Gearhart, a senior undergraduate student in biomedical engineering, joined the lab and will start her project (building on with the work started by Rachel Dass) on mechanical characterization of tumor spheroids and tissues using milli- and nano-scale indentation techniques.
Aly Tremblay and Peter D’Almeida, both senior undergraduate student in biomedical engineering, joined the lab. Aly will start a project studying the spreading of NF fibroblasts and Peter will work on the development of a microfluidic platform for incresing the efficiency of cell patterning.
Welcome Aly and Peter!
Samuel Weinstein joins the lab from Montville Township High School in Montville, NJ for a month-long research experience as part of the Rensselaer Research Program.
Update August 2018: Sam starts a lab tradition of winning the faculty-selected Best Poster Award for this year’s Renssleaer Research Program for his poster “Mechanical Characterization of In Vitro Hydrogel Models”.
Ashok Williams and Rachel Dass are first and second authors, respectively, on a paper of collaborative work with Prof. Johnson Samuel’s group on a novel 3D fiber-reinforced hydrogel ECM in vitro model in Frontiers of Physiology.
Rachel Dass won a Graduate Student Travel Award to present her work at the 2018 BMES: Advanced Biomanufacturing Special Interest Group meeting August 23 & 24 at WPI! Her poster is titled, “Toward Morphologically Relevant Extracellular Matrix in Vitro Models: 3D Reinforced Hydrogels “.
Congratulations on a job well done, Rachel!
Xiangyu presented his reseach progress and plan for completing his PhD work to his committee and passed his candidacy exam.
Congratulations PhD Candidate!
Jonathan presented his reseach progress and plan for completing his PhD work to his committee and passed his candidacy exam.
Congratulations PhD Candidate!
Rachel Dass receives her BS in mechanical engineering this term as she finishes up her undergraduate requirements. Exciting news is that she’s decided to stay on at RPI and in the lab to work on her MS in biomedical engineering! Rachel will work on characterizing soft materials and tissues using the microcompression system.
Way to go Rachel!
Dr. Mills, Xiangyu, Jonathan, Ashok, Rufeng, and Rachel travel as a group to Phoenix for the BMES Annual Meeting. All students had a wonderful experience and did a great job presenting their posters.
Trijal Koduri joins the lab for a month-long research experience as part of the Rensselaer Research Program.
Update August 2017: Trijal wins the Outstanding Poster Presentation award for this year’s Renssleaer Research Program for his poster “Tumor growth in response to cell density”. Congratulations Trijal!
Nora Herzog, an undergraduate student in Cell Biology and Neuroscience at Rutgers University will join the lab as a research assistant and work with Jonathan Kulwatno on studying the growth of tumor emboli in in vitro model lympatic vessels. Welcome Nora! Andrew Nicholas, a senior mechanical engineering student at RPI, joins the lab for the summer to work on Matlab coding for image processing and analysis. Welcome Andrew! Elizabeth “Elly” Pontius, a sophomore biomedical engineering student at RPI, joins the lab and will study tumor spheroid production methods. Welcome Elly!
Sebastian Barrutia, an undergraduate student dual majoring in biomedical and mechanical engineering joins the lab. His experimental project will be on cell invasion into collagen matrices and he will develop Matlab image processing code. Welcome Sebastian!
Jonathan Kulwatno, who recently earned an MS in biomedical engineering from RPI, joins the lab.
Jonathan will develop in vitro models of ductal and vessel structures.
Ashok Williams (BS in mechanical engineering from UMBC) joins the lab and will work on the electrospinning project.
James Sherman, Andrew Chi, Jeffrey Chen, and Alexis Hill all join the Mills Lab to do undergraduate research projects. James Sherman is working on developing an electrospinning setup for creating 3D ECM-mimicking environments. Andrew Chi and Alexis Hill are fabricating and mechanically characterizing agarose-collage co-gels.
Xiangyu Gong, who recently received his MS in manufacturing from Rutgers University, joins Dr. Mills as her first graduate student.
After learning cell culture and working in a wet lab, Xiangyu will work on a 3D cell patterning project.
© 2015 Kristen Mills. Statements.