Mayra Sanchez Morgan completed a PhD in the Environmental and Energy Policy program in the Social Science department at Michigan Tech in 2019. Dr. Morgan’s research investigates how ecotourism empowers or disempowers women in rural Mexico. The first paper from her dissertation, entitled “The Third Shift? Gender and Empowerment in a Women’s Ecotourism Cooperative”, was published in the journal Rural Sociology in 2019 and has been recognized as one of the most downloaded articles of the journal. During her degree, Dr. Morgan organized two conferences and presented her research in more than 18 conferences, meetings, and as a guest lecture in national and international conferences and meetings. She served as a campus leader in diverse student organizations (such as GSG, ASPEN, and NOSTROS) and worked diligently to promote diversity and inclusion. Dr. Morgan received a Finishing Fellowship from the Michigan Tech Graduate School and a Dissertation Research Award from the Rural Sociological Society. Dr. Morgan enjoys dancing and warm and sunny days.
I obtained my Master’s and PhD degrees in Biomedical Engineering at Tech under the guidance of Dr. Bruce P. Lee in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. My PhD dissertation was entitled “Reversibly switching adhesion of smart adhesives inspired by mussel adhesive chemistry.”
The motivation behind conducting this research was to develop smart adhesives that could be reversibly attached and detached from various surfaces by applying an external trigger. I synthesized a smart adhesive consisting of mussel-inspired adhesive groups and boronic acid protective groups. It showed strong adhesion in a wetted saline environment, while this adhesion was dramatically decreased by elevating the pH to a basic value. The adhesive could be reversibly attached and detached owing to the reversible pH-responsive complexation between the adhesive and protective groups.
Such a smart adhesive that can adhere and debond on-command can enable the repeated attachment of sensors and devices to underwater surfaces such as ship hulls and submarines. These sensors and devices can then be retrieved and re-deployed. A moisture-resistant smart adhesive which can be integrated with wearable electronic sensors that track human vital signs also bears tremendous implications in the biomedical field.
I am currently working as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Syracuse University, where I am designing light-triggered biomaterials for examining cellular activity.