Graduate Student Highlight: Chirag Gajjar

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Graduate Student Highlight

Name:  Chirag R. Gajjar

Degree Program:  PhD Fibers and Polymer Science

Advisor(s):  Dr. Martin W. King

Degrees you have: 
MS Textile Chemistry – North Carolina State University, Raleigh (USA), 2011
MBA (Marketing) – Symbiosis Center for Distance Learning, Pune (India), 2009
BE Textile Processing – Sarvajanik College of Engineering and Technology, Surat (India), 2007

Where are you from:  Surat, Gujarat (India)

What your town/country is like: India is the most diverse country in terms of language, religion and culture. Yet, there is unity in diversity. Surat is a mid-size city in the state of Gujarat in India. My city is well-known for its diamond and textile industries.

Why did you decide to pursue your degree at NC State University? Wilson College of Textiles at NC State University is ranked #1 in the field of textiles globally! The variety of research in the field of textiles at NC State is amazing. From nanofibers to technical textiles for industry to the fabrics for personal protection – there is everything here. Personally, I was interested in the field of Medical Textiles, which is a unique program at NC State. I am happy to work in this area for my research.

Learn more about medical textiles and our research group.

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Give a short description of your research: My doctoral research work involves the study of melt-spinning of resorbable (bio-degradable) polymers for implantable medical devices. Certain medical devices are required to be implanted into the human body only for a certain duration (until the recovery) after which they are not needed. For example, sutures are needed only until the wound heals or the tissue engineering scaffolds are needed only until the tissue regenerates. Resorbable polymers are ideal for these applications since they can safely degrade inside the body over time, eliminating the need for repeat surgery to take them out.  Since these polymers are sensitive to surrounding atmospheric conditions, the process to convert these polymers into filaments and fabricating them into various biotextile structures is challenging. I want to study the effect of various parameters on the performance of these polymers. I am using experimental and computational approaches to study the optimum processing conditions.

How does your research impact the world? If we can establish a ‘process parameters-performance’ relationship successfully, it will enable people to convert resorbable polymers into filaments and fibers commercially, which will lead to a variety of biotetxtile products for temporary applications such as – nerve regeneration guides, hernia repair meshes, tissue engineering scaffolds, vascular grafts, etc.

Have you published your work yet and/or received any awards?  If you have published, please provide the citation and an abstract appropriate at the high school science level:

Awards:

  • The Graduate School’s Preparing Future Leaders (PFL) Ambassador
  • STAR (Student Achievement Recognition) Award Honorable Mention at 2013 Society for Biomaterials annual meeting in Boston
  • MS research work in Popular Mechanics – http://www.popularmechanics.com/how-to/blog/smart-bandages-could-staunch-blood-flow-from-wounds-14098774
  • Outstanding Oral Presentation Award at 2012 International Forum on Biomedical Textile Materials, Shanghai, China
  • Completion of The Graduate School’s Leadership Development Series (a PFL program) in 2011
  • Gold Medal by the Institution of Engineers (India) for outstanding academic performance in undergraduate degree in 2008

Publications:

  • ‘Biotextile Retrieval Studies,’ in Biotextiles as Medical Implants, King M., Gupta B. and Guidoin R., Eds., Woodhead Publishing Series in Textiles No. 113 (currently in press)

What is your favorite thing about TECS / NC State? The best thing about TECS is that the professors are very friendly and they take personal interest in the growth and development of graduate students. Moreover, we have a vast number of international students at the Wilson College of Textiles from different parts of the world, which provides a unique opportunity to learn about different cultures and make friends with people around the globe. In addition, NC State University provides many opportunities to develop professional and leadership skills. The ‘Preparing Future Leaders’ (PFL) program by the graduate school and the University Graduate Student Association (UGSA) are my personal favorites.

Who has influenced you most during your research here and how? I am inspired by my current advisor Dr. Martin W. King. Whenever I interact with him, I always learn something new. Dr. McCord, my previous advisor, has also helped me develop my research skills. Dr. Melissa Bostrom and Dr. Barbie Honeycutt at the Graduate School PFL program have provided me the opportunities to learn and practice leadership skills.

What do you find most exciting about your field of study? Medical textiles have direct impact on the life and well-being of human beings. The most exciting aspects of this field are the challenges associated with understanding the compatibility and performance of textile substrates within the physiological environment inside the body. As the joke by Dr. King goes, “Among all the textile products, only the medical textiles have a true ‘life-time’ guarantee.”