Michael Max Brown - Australia

Michael loves chemistry! Whether he is at home or university, he is always doing this spectacular science. Some of his hobbies include harvesting carbon dioxide and converting it into starch (gardening), or breaking glucose down into alcohol (brewing). He studied chemistry and chemical engineering at Curtin University, Perth and graduated last year with first class honors. He just couldn't get enough of this beautiful science, so he continued his studies doing a PhD at Curtin University. He is now investigating new materials for harvesting microalgae. The only problem with doing all this chemistry is trying to talk about it.

Michael loves his hobbies and research, but while he finds chemistry the most fascinating thing in the world, some people (his girlfriend) have the complete opposite opinion and fall asleep at the thought of it. This has motivated him to improve his communication skills, so instead of boring people to death with ramblings, he can tell them an exciting story and bring to life the wonderful world of chemistry. This is what brought him to the IOM3 YPLC. He considers it the perfect opportunity to improve his communication skills and unravel the power of polymers with the fascinating story of programmable hydrogels.

Programmable hydrogels: Coding materials for medicine

Hydrogels are polymer materials that exhibit the ability to swell and retain a significant fraction of water within their structure without degrading. The material properties can be engineered for biocompatibility, selective permeability, mechanical integrity and chemical stability, providing a unique tool for medical implants and drug delivery. Despite this, the dynamic nature of the human body proves difficult to integrate into, as materials beneficial in one environment can become devastating in another. Programmable hydrogels may overcome this, with the ability to respond to the environment, changing its properties and functions periodically, reversibly and/or sequentially on demand. This is achieved through manipulable polymer crosslinks and/or responsive surface attachments that react specifically to stimuli. Michael's presentation will explore programmable hydrogels and how they open the door for sophisticated drug delivery carriers with the ability to release compounds specifically to stimuli, and advanced tissue engineering materials capable of responding to biological changes.

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