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2002 - 2003 University Scholar
Mentor: Laurie Gower
College of Engineering
Javier Gutierrez finds himself torn between two career options. While he feels strongly
about the importance of being a doctor and caring for patients, he also sees engineering
as a way of helping people.
"Since elementary school, I always have been fascinated with my math and science
classes-they came easily," he says. "As I grew, I was interested in why things worked,
but I was also amazed by how a doctor knew how to make a patient feel better. When I
entered college, I kept both doors open by majoring in engineering and simultaneously
taking all the pre-medicine prerequisites."
Working on a core-shell particle research team, headed by Materials Science and
Engineering Assistant Professor Laurie Gower, Javier has been able to combine his
interest in medicine and engineering into a USP project that seeks a way of reversing the
effects of drug overdoses.
"Special particles, composed of an oil core and a calcium carbonate shell, are being
tailored for toxicity reversal applications," he says. "This particle system, when injected
into the body, will absorb the overdosed drug and then release it back into the body at
Javier's job on the research team is to experiment with ways of controlling the pores of
the particle shells. He compares different techniques of growing film and studies the
various properties that occur when using different parameters. "Since we want the drugs
of interest to enter the particles, pores are built into the shell surrounding each particle,"
he says. "I work on controlling the pore size by researching the effects produced by
Javier submitted his research paper "Deposition of Patterned CaCO3 Films Using Binary
Surfactant Systems" in the USP's 2002-2003 Best Paper Competition and received one of
two Best Quantative Paper awards. He feels he owes his success to the strong guidance
of his mentor. "I was blessed with an incredible advisor," he says. "Dr. Gower was always
willing to give of her time and expertise to make sure I understood and was comfortable
with my research. She provided a friendly, helpful atmosphere throughout the program
that was beneficial to the whole group."
Javier is spending this summer in Peru, volunteering at a hospital as part of the mission
group PRODEIN, a non-profit organization that promotes development of the mind, body
and soul. He will return to UF in the fall and plans to continue his work with Dr. Gower
and prepare his USP paper for a professional journal or present a poster a conference. He
is scheduled to graduate in May 2004, though he still hasn't decided whether to enter
medical school or pursue a master's degree in materials science. "The USP has been a
door-opener for me," he says. "I've gained precious experience I'm sure I'll continue to
use throughout my career, whatever it may be."
W I UNIVERSITY of
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