Friday, November 4, 2011

Nanoengineer Runs the New York Marathon

Dan Kagan usually can be found crafting nano-scale rockets that can detect cancer cells, isolate proteins and provide targeted drug delivery in a lab here at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego. But this Sunday, he'll face another challenge: he is running in the New York City Marathon.

Kagan grew up 20 miles outside the city and said he always wanted to run that race. He has run the San Diego and Austin marathon in past years. "I am very excited," he said. 
Kagan is a Ph.D. bioengineering student in professor Joseph Wang’s Laboratory for Nanobioelectronics in the department of nanoengineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering. His research focuses on nano-scale motors that can be propelled in a variety of ways. To develop some of the nanorockets in Wang’s lab, he exploited a relationship between a solution’s silver ion concentration and the speed of gold and platinum nanowires for sensing nucleic acids. He also found a way to make binding to biological targets, such as DNA and RNA, more effective by using microrockets propelled by oxygen bubbles. The motors and rockets are fairly cheap to manufacture – and their motion is visible with a strong magnifying glass. (For related work, Kagan won best NanoEngineering poster at Research Expo 2011.)
Kagan recently was one of five bioengineering Ph.D. students from UC San Diego to become a Siebel Scholar. The award comes with a $35,000 fellowship during the last year of the student's studies.  Kagan plans to use some of the funds to explore possible ideas for a startup company after he graduates in spring 2012. He also plans to use some of the award to help develop a guide to molecular biology protocols and troubleshooting in the lab. Proceeds from the guide’s sales would go to science materials for high school classrooms.
When he isn’t in the lab, Kagan is the cultural coordinator for UC San Diego’s Graduate Student Association. He plans field trips to museums, the symphony and Broadway San Diego shows, among other destinations. He also organized the first-ever graduate student art competition on campus in March. He also enjoys spending time with his fiance, and, of course, running.

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