Nanotechnology at Northwestern

Meet Michael Vincent, a PhD candidate in the Scott and Johnson Research Groups

February 26, 2021

Michael Vincent is a PhD candidate in the Scott Research Group, which applies principles from biomaterials science, nanotechnology, and tissue engineering towards the development of translational immunotherapies, and the Johnson Research Group.

Where are you originally from?

I’m originally from Williamston, Michigan.

Where did you complete your undergraduate degree?

I completed my undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI.

When did you first become interested in biomedical engineering?

I first became interested in biomedical engineering while working at Genentech, Inc. in 2013. At the time, I was developing novel high throughput assays for screening chemical libraries. In that role, I saw the potential to solve real world problems in medicine and the biomedical sciences.

How do you explain what you study to non-scientists?

I develop technologies for delivering drugs to specific locations inside of the body. These technologies improve efficacy (how well the drug works) and reduce side effects.

You recently published research on the interaction between proteins found in the body and nanocarriers for drug delivery. What inspired you to focus on that, and what do you hope to achieve?

I’ve always had a deep appreciation for biophysical phenomena, especially conditions that change protein structure in a controlled way. I started that project in the summer of 2018 because I was genuinely interested in understanding whether we could engineer the surface chemistry of a nanocarrier to modulate the structure of adsorbed albumin, and if this level of control could be used in meaningful ways for drug delivery applications. Through this project, I also learned a lot about the molecular determinants of nanocarrier clearance by the innate immune system. It was very interesting.

What has been a highlight of your time at Northwestern?

I’d say having the opportunity to conduct experiments and characterize synthetic materials at Argonne National Laboratory. It’s a great place.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your work or your time at Northwestern?

I think in my first few years, getting adjusted to the quarter system while getting research projects up and running. Of course, I’ve been done with classes for a while now, but balancing class and research did present unique challenges early on.

Can you tell me about your experiences either being mentored or mentoring others?

I’m co-advised by Prof. Evan Scott and Prof. Mark Johnson in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. They’re very different in terms of expertise and mentorship style, and I’ve learned a lot from both of them.

I’ve also mentored undergraduate and master’s students while at NU. They’re talented students and I’ve enjoyed getting them going on their own research projects. It’s been a lot of fun.

What are your hobbies outside of the lab?

Staying active (working out, running, etc.) and reading. I’m also a big sports fan. Aside from those things, I still regularly develop software and do mechatronics projects at home.