Lamar University junior Nicolas Nikoloutsos has won a fellowship that will pay for one year of study in Taiwan under the tutelage of professional scientists.
The Beck Fellowship pays for one year of tuition, fees, books, room and board, and gives Nikoloutsos up to $10,000 for a summer project like the one he'll be pursuing in Taiwan. Nikoloutsos will work under Che-Ming Jack Hu of Taipei's Academia Sinica.
“I’m excited,” Nikoloutsos said. “I want to make use of all my summers, and the Beck Fellowship gives me the opportunity to tailor my summer project to exactly what I want to do.”
Nikoloutsos' work will focus on using nanotechnology to improve drug delivery.
“You have this drug that will alleviate symptoms or fight a disease, but the drug has to get to very specific places in very complex biological systems," he said. "A lot of times you administer extremely large doses and hope that some small amount gets to exactly where you want it to go, but you can’t always do that with every drug. Some drugs are toxic in large amounts. If we can find really efficient ways and gain a high enough accuracy, we can control where our drugs go, and we can use less drugs and be more specific with the drugs we use. We could use toxic drugs at higher dosages because we know it’s only going to go to one spot, and then it’ll easily perform its purpose."
Though Nikoloutsos will be working with a team of top-flight scientists, the work is still considered experimental. Still, Nikoloutsos hopes it will be the foundation for a career as a research scientist and future doctoral work in bioengineering.
“I’ve enjoyed my experience with research so far. I really like science, and discovery, and understanding the world. It doesn’t feel like a job to me," he said.