Luciano Groisman considers his research to be the most important part of his undergraduate education. Motivated by his sonís diabetes, he has dedicated himself to finding ways to improve the lives of this disease. Luciano is continually inspired his fellow researchers; their dedication and passion to make a difference keep him focused on the importance of his work. He stresses the importance of being sufficiently excited about a project to devote the focus and energy that are critical elements of any future success. UROP is pleased to recognize Luciano for his passionate pursuit of undergraduate research.

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?

My research is aimed towards improving the lives of those living with Type 1 Diabetes. Specifically, my work involves the implementation of a novel biomaterial microstructure into insulin infusion sets, the conduit by which insulin is delivered during insulin pump therapy. Specifically we use bicontinuous interfacially jammed emulsion gel (bijel) templated materials that have been shown to stave off the foreign body response. Under the advisement of both Professor Elliot Botvinick and Professor Ali Mohraz, as well as working with Dr. Todd Thorson, PhD and Alyse Gonthier, we are working diligently to implement this potentially life saving technology into a fully commercialized product.

2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

My life has been a series of twists and turns, but the catalyst for my interest in research had to be my experience managing my own sonís diabetes. He was diagnosed at a very young age, but it wasnít until he began Kindergarten that I realized the shortfalls of the available technology. I spent two years attending elementary school with him on a daily basis in order to manage his blood glucose levels. Through the extreme generosity of friends, my son was gifted a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), as well as the associated necessary supplies. They also introduced us to the Nightscout Foundation, a fierce group of parents who realized the potential of diabetic technology to create a system that was not yet on the market. This system they created hacked into our new CGM and uploaded the data to a website, allowing me to monitor my son from the cloud. I resolved to do everything in my power to pay it forward and develop better technology to improve his life, and thus I returned to school to study biomedical engineering.

3. How has research enhanced your education?

My research is the focus of my education and therefore I would state that it is actually my education that has enhanced my research. Since transferring to UCI, I have resolved to take every class possible that would increase my knowledge and abilities in the lab. Acknowledging that this is my mindset, I take all the information that I learn in my courses and imagine ways to apply it into my project. This transforms these abstract concepts into tangible and usable skills that I utilize in all my experiments and analysis.

4. What has been your favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?

In general, I work with an amazing team who pour their lives into our project. Every day that I walk into the research lab, I am surrounded by people who mentor me, support me, and want to do everything that they can for the community. We know our research is incredibly important, and itís never more clear than when we have visitors or do outreach events within the type 1 diabetic community to display our work. Showing people that we care about them and devote our time in order to one day reduce their struggles has brought more than one person to tears. Itís those moments that continue to motivate me though the natural cycle of failed experiments and intermittent successes.

5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

My ultimate goal is to make a sizable impact in the advancement of diabetic technology to improve management or the discovery of a cure. My research is directly related to this ambition and I hope to complete my project while working towards my Ph.D. at UCI. After the completion of graduate school, I plan to pursue a career in academia so that I may both shape future engineers and conduct research that can provide insight into the unknown.

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?

My research has become an enormous part of my life, but only because I decided to make it a focus. Find a project that excites you and devote your efforts to it. Take initiative and read the relevant research papers. Be vocal and participate in the brainstorming process by coming up with different approaches that your mentors might have not thought of. Itís ok if you're wrong, it might spark an idea that could work. The more you engage and take part, the more you will get from the project.

Past Researchers of the Month

Jul. '20 Luciano Groisman
Jun. '20 Yara Bojorquez
May. '20 Zaira Barrera
Apr. '20 Iyah Totounji
Mar. '20 Aung Myat Thu
Feb. '20 Gabriela Salcedo
Jan. '20 Sahrai Garcia