(What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?)
“My recommendation to students at all levels is to stay focused on your goals. What I mean is that you should pursue opportunities that will help you achieve your goals. And when presented with these opportunities, do your best to perform well. There may come a point in time when you have to choose between your current goal and a new opportunity that might take you in a different direction. Whichever direction you choose, stay focused and do not regret the decision that you made.”
Alshakim Nelson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Washington. He received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2004, where he worked with Sir J. Fraser Stoddart on carbohydrate-containing polymers and macrocycles. He was then an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology working for Professor Robert Grubbs on olefin metathesis catalysts for the formation of supramolecular ensembles. Dr. Nelson joined IBM Almaden Research Center as a Research Staff Member for 10 years, where he focused on the synthesis of nanomaterial building blocks that enabled large area nanomanufacturing via self-assembly. In 2015, Dr. Nelson joined the faculty at the UW, where his research group focuses on the synthesis, characterization, and processing of stimuli-responsive hydrogels for 3D printing. Dr. Nelson has over 40 publications and 11 issued patents, and in 2011 he was designated as an IBM Master Inventor. He has also been recognized as an ACS PMSE Young Investigator in 2012, a 2016 Kavli Fellow, and is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award and 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award.
Alshakim Nelson will be a speaker at the Seattle event
Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?
Alshakim: I cannot remember my first encounter specifically, but an early encounter was when I was listening to the radio and the discussion was about how several of the local libraries now had 3D printers available for free use. It really struck me how accessible 3D printing had become.
Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey/company/career/research in 3D printing (bio-fabrication/bio-printing)?
Alshakim: The 3D printing ecosystem is comprised of 1) hardware, i.e. the actual printer, 2) software and modeling, and finally 3) the materials with which you print. My group focuses on developing stimuli-responsive materials. The reason why we became involved in 3D printing is because we believe there is an opportunity to have an impact on the 3D printing field by developing new materials customized specifically for 3D printing. One approach is to think about the stimuli-responsive behaviors that are required of materials for 3D printing.
Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D printing (bio-printing/bio-fabrication)? This can be a mentor, a patient, a celebrity, anyone basically. You can name more than one as well.
Alshakim: I would not say that I am inspired by one person, but it is the entire field of 3D printing that has me in awe.
Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?
Alshakim: The students on our team motivate me the most. The excitement that they have for their projects is contagious!
Jenny: What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?
Alshakim: The biggest obstacle with respect to materials for 3D printing is to define the properties that make a resin or an ink printable. Even then, after an object has been printed, we still need to achieve the material properties required for the target application.
Jenny: What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in 3D Printing/bio-printing? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?
Alshakim: The biggest challenge to 3D printing/bio-printing is to develop new products and applications that are now possible because we are not limited to the traditional methods of engineering apart.
Jenny: If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be?
Alshakim: Not sure, but one of them would be more wishes, of course.
Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?
Alshakim: My recommendation to students at all levels is to stay focused on your goals. What I mean is that you should pursue opportunities that will help you achieve your goals. And when presented with these opportunities, do your best to perform well. There may come a point in time when you have to choose between your current goal and a new opportunity that might take you in a different direction. Whichever direction you choose, stay focused and do not regret the decision that you made.
Jenny: If you could have a giant billboard to promote a message to millions and even billions of people in our community (i.e. healthcare 3D printing and bio-fabrication), what message would that be?
Alashakim: Think out of the box and get to printing!
Jenny: What do you enjoy in your spare time? What are you passionate about outside of your work/3d printing?
Alshakim: I like spending time with my family. The kids are still at a fun age, and I am sure that it won’t be long before they are 3D printing as well.
Jenny: What does the word “3DHEALS” mean to you? =)
Alshakim: Using 3D printing to solve the challenges that face our society.
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