ChBE Alumna Profile: Oluwatosin Ogunsola

Class of: 2005 (Ph.D.)
Advisor: Professor Sheryl Ehrman

oluwatosin ogunsola
Oluwatosin Ogunsola (Ph.D. '05)

After earning her doctorate in 2005, Oluwatosin Ogunsola continued to work in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering as a postdoctoral fellow in the Complex Fluids and Nanomaterials Group, directed by Associate Professor Srinivasa Raghavan. She currently works for the FDA. We chatted with Oluwatosin to learn more about her experiences at the University of Maryland and her current work.

What kind of research did you do while you were a student? 

My research was on the study of processing-structure-properties of titania nanoparticle aggregate films. With the increasing push to move toward using green technology in our homes and our environment, solar energy is getting to be more of a feasible idea. Understanding how processing techniques and parameters impact the properties of titania films is important because of the use of titania nanoparticles in novel, nanotechnology-based solar cells.

What sort of research are you performing as a postdoc?

I am studying the ability of nanoparticles such as liposomes to penetrate the skin and deliver drugs or cosmetics. This project is in collaboration with the FDA through JIFSAN  [the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition].

What led you to this position?

I found out about an ORISE [Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education] fellowship for the project while I was a graduate student in Dr. Ehrman's lab. I applied, was accepted and went from an ORISE fellow to a JIFSAN fellow.

Have you held any other interesting positions?

I co-founded a biotech startup with other University of Maryland graduate students. It's called Remedium Technologies and we're working on a product that uses specially-modified chitosan [a natural bipolymer found in crustaceans] to stop severe bleeding for up to several hours. It could help save people who would otherwise be too far away from a doctor or hospital. Remedium took second place at MTECH's [the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute's] annual business plan competition. We were also semifinalists in Rice University's national business plan competition and were featured in a story about it on the CNN Money web site. Since then we've been awarded MIPS  [Maryland Industrial Partnerships] funding, which supports collaborative R&D projects between the university and industry.

How did your graduate school experience at UMD influence or aid what you do now?

My experience at UMD has helped me develop a great [professional] network. The postdoc position and startup company have come through people I have met here.

Why did you choose UMD and the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering?

I chose UMD and ChBE because I wanted to do my Ph.D. in chemical engineering, and I wanted to be in Maryland. When I came here to visit the school, the students and faculty I met were very nice and I felt at home with them. The variety of research being conducted was also interesting to me.

What was or is the best thing about your UMD experience?

The people I have worked with. My [graduate] advisor, Dr. [Sheryl] Ehrman, is an amazing person. She really helped guide me and opened up networks for me. She always wanted the best career path for me. The other students were also great. Now being a postdoc [here in the department], it has carried on as I work for Dr. [Srinivasa] Raghavan, who also guides me and wants me to be on the career path I want. The students in my new lab are also amazing. In fact I have to say I have been really blessed with the people I have been in contact with and that is the best thing about my UMD experience.

Why would you recommend chemical and biomolecular engineering as a career?

Because it opens up so many doors for career opportunities for you. You can work in various industries such as pharmaceuticals, oil, chemical, cosmetic, consulting, venture capital, private equity, etc.

What advice do you have for undergraduates considering graduate studies in ChBE?

Know why you want to do it and what career path you want to go after so you can evaluate whether graduate school will be helpful. If it is, research the [prospective] school, visit the school, and research the department and the variety of research that has been conducted in it.

What advice do you have for current graduate students in ChBE who are working on their M.S. or Ph.D.?

Be patient. Don't let the frustration of very slow results get to you. One day it will all be worth it spending all those years on research.

Are you involved in any other interesting activities, either personal or related to engineering?

I co-founded a mentoring program to raise the next generation of leaders at my church. Being able to give back to society keeps me busy and fulfilled.

Learn more about Oluwatosin's research group and Remedium Technologies: