Caitlin Blades, a McNair Scholar from Bridgeville, Del., is doing research that mixes new techniques and natural substances – using nanoparticles of the herb curcumin to fight inflammatory breast cancer cells. Some of the particles are coated in a specific polymer, some are not.

“The ability to intertwine modern medicine techniques with natural herbs such as curcumin, which has been a health remedy for centuries, honestly blows my mind,” she said.

The research could lead to ideal new ways to deliver chemotherapy and Caitlin would like to create a system to examine the efficiency of the coated nanoparticles in the bloodstream.

When she is not strategizing against lethal cancers, she travels as much as possible to develop her Spanish language skills and experience other cultures. “I love adventure and the feeling of the wind blowing on my face, so I go mountain rappelling, rollerblading, crabbing and fishing as often as I can. I use my creative side to write poetry and my hands to design and sell my own clothing. Additionally, I am an avid volunteer at a non-profit clinic giving back to those who can’t afford but deserve necessary treatments.”

For more ‘Summer Research All-Stars,’ check out the University of Delaware on Tumblr.

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