ZACK BERENT

PhD Candidate in Mechanical Engineering

I am currently a Graduate Research Assistant, Teaching Assistant, and Graduate Assistant for Undergraduate Programs.

Curriculum Vitae

berent2@illinois.edu

I have been interested in biomechanics since childhood, as my dad has a bone and muscle birth defect. Upon seeing multiple hip replacement surgeries, I pursued research in prosthetic and orthotic devices as an undergraduate.

For my PhD, I am investigating osteogenic differentiation of stem cells on micropatterned substrates for use in bone regeneration. Specifically, I am creating an experimentally driven simulation of cell seeding, proliferation, and differentiation on patterned islands of various sizes.

Upon completion of my PhD, Zack aims to go into college teaching, administration, and STEM education research engineering student identity development with an intersectional lens.

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PROJECTS

EXPERIMENTAL OBSERVATIONS OF MULTICELLULAR CELL SYSTEMS

Part of my work involves investigating the quantification of cell behavior on multicellular patterned substrates, from seeding through proliferation to confluence (shown: nuclear and actin staining at confluence), as well as differentiation.

SIMULATION OF MULTICELLULAR SYSTEMS

From the experimental data obtained, I am creating a simulation of cell behavior, as a fuction of day snapshots. For example, I observe cell size through the color coding the cells (pink = seed cells, blues = elongated cells, green = cuboidal cells).

 
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TEACHING AND ADMINISTRATION EXPERIENCES

Upon completion of his PhD Zack aims to become teaching faculty with an administrative role. He has taught two courses as instructor (TAM 335, SU 2017 and TAM 412, SP 2019), and been a teaching assistant for many others. He been ranked in the top 10% of instructors 7 times, and top 30% an additional 6 times.
He also is an academic adviser through a grad assistantship in MechSE, which involves advising current students and incoming freshmen, discussing MechSE opportunities to potential students, approving study abroad and transfer coursework, and improving the MechSE curriculum overall.
His STEM Education interest include technical and soft skill development through co- and extracurricular activities, analyzing the engineering student identity with intersectional lens, and student choices in curriculum.

 

SERVICE

Zack works on the College of Engineering and Graduate College Executive Committees (both as the graduate representative).
His projects in the College of Engineering Diversity Committee include making the pathway for students to communicate their climate easier and training advisers in cultural awareness.
For the Graduate College Executive Committee, he is working on improving guidelines for professors in mentoring graduate students, and increasing visibility of student timeline expectations.

 

FUN FACTS

  • I have 5 siblings - 4 in STEM and the other is a news reporter.

  • I own enough pairs of pants to wear a unique outfit every day of the semester.

  • I dabble in making music mashups, which combines my passions for music and signal processing.

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1206 W Green Street
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, IL 61801

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