Research Rewarded

ISE professor Rohan Shirwaiker has had a long line of success with his students winning national awards from the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), including Pedro Huebner, Lokesh Narayanan, Parth Chansoria, Karl Schuchard, Shohanuzzaman Shohan and others. One more name for that exclusive list is Claudia Alvarado Espino, who received the 2023 IISE Graduate Research Award.

Over the past decades, researchers have made significant advances in revolutionizing how surgeons will perform organ and tissue transplants. They can regrow human tissue and organs using a person’s cells and various 3D bioprinting methods, which a surgeon will implant in the patient. But an important issue with these methods is how to make these products available on a large scale, in a timely fashion (since the patient critically needs the therapy) and at reasonable prices. Enter Alvarado Espino.

“Her thesis developed a complete flow model for tissue engineered medical products (TEMP),” shared Paul Cohen, ISE distinguished professor emeritus and Alvarado Espino’s award nominator. “While the individual steps are apparent to a biologist or medical doctor, she translated them into engineering terms to model these steps and the logistics needed for successful implantation.” Unlike many products, those with living cells take weeks to make and require cleanrooms. Alvarado Espino’s simulation modeling and results provide a framework, for the first time, to analyze these biological processes and supply chain as a system.

“This is quite an accomplishment for an MS thesis,” confided Cohen. “I am impressed with the quality of her research and that she completed her work while performing her duties as a teaching assistant. She did an outstanding job and even gave a lecture when I was traveling, all while completing her thesis.”

Alvarado Espino received the award based on the high quality of her research, which fused aspects of industrial and systems engineering with biofabrication while illuminating aspects of a problem critical for the success of a new and emerging industry.