Hands-On Since Day One
Goldwater Scholarship recipient Nick Pancheri begins fourth year of undergraduate research in tendon tissue development
Nick Pancheri has worked with University of Idaho Department of Biological Engineering Assistant Professor Nathan Schiele and other engineering students since his freshman year to study the biology behind tendon development and factors that regulate cells to become tendon tissue.
“U of I Engineering and its faculty are focused on making sure students get those [hands-on research] experiences. U of I has been invaluable in supporting my research – for four summers and three academic years – and every one of my experiences has been paid.” Nick Pancheri, Junior, Biological Engineering
Pancheri, a biological engineering junior from Moscow, was recently selected from a pool of 5,000 candidates nationwide to receive the Goldwater Scholarship for the 2021-22 academic year. This more than 30-year-old national and prestigious scholarship program supports students interested in STEM research careers.
Of the 410 Goldwater awardees, Pancheri is one of the few students focused on tissue engineering.
“I’ve been involved in hands-on research at U of I since I walked in the door,” Pancheri said. “And the reason this is possible is because U of I Engineering and its faculty are focused on making sure students get those experiences. U of I has been invaluable in supporting my research – for four summers and three academic years – and every one of my experiences has been paid.”
There are more than 16 million reported tendon injuries in the U.S. each year, according to the National Institutes of Health. Yet one of first tendon-specific protein markers to identify a tendon cell was discovered in 2001.
After co-authoring a paper on how mechanical loading, or the force placed on a tendon, affects certain properties during tendon development, Pancheri is exploring why these effects occur in certain parts of the tissue and not others.
Focusing on the proteins that regulate chemical cross-linking of collagen, the main structural component of tendon, Pancheri is analyzing how the cross-links, or bridges within the tendon tissue are formed, which could be causing the changes observed in his published work and could be applied in future studies to develop stronger engineered tendon replacements.
Goldwater Scholarships are awarded for the final one or two years of undergraduate study and cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
Article by Alexiss Turner, University Communications and Marketing
Photo by University of Idaho Photographic Services
Published April 2021