Ken Wilson


Faculty Mentor: Timothy M. Swager

Direct Supervisor: Eilaf Ahmed

Home University: Bloomfield College

Major: Biochemistry and Mathematics



My name is Ken Wilson, and I live in the suburb of West Orange, New Jersey (up the road from Thomas Edison’s laboratories). I am currently studying Biochemistry and Mathematics at Bloomfield College. I have completed two years of gene expression research under Dr. Tammy Castro (Bloomfield) and am returning to MSRP after work in the Hamad-Schifferli lab last summer. My primary goal is to be curious, and within the classical sciences, I gravitate toward chemistry, physics, and math. I have had the pleasure of serving freshmen as a resident advisor for three years, which allowed me to assist students’ transition into college and to discover FUN in scholarship. I cofounded our campus’s environmental club, and my hobbies include computer building, playing the piano, and science fiction.


Development of Near-IR Fluorescent Polymer Nanoparticles for Biological Applications

Nanoparticle-based materials including inorganic nanoparticles, single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and organic semiconductor polymer (NPs) have been a subject of significant interest for application in medical diagnostics and therapeutics. Organic nanoparticles based on p-conjugated polymers are particularly unique due to their high fluorescence brightness, robust photostability, and the ability to functionalize with biomolecules. In this poster, we present the design of highly fluorescent conjugated polymer nanoparticles (NPs) for bioimaging and in vivo tumor targeting. Our lab is particularly interested in developing near-infrared (NIR) (650-900 nm) fluorescent dyes for biological applications. This summer, we synthesized a highly-emissive dye based on the squaraine scaffold, which is subsequently incorporated into an organic semiconducting copolymer framework that has previously been shown to be functionalized with biomolecules such as proteins, folic acid and DNA. The newly synthesized near-IR squaraine dye has absorption and photoluminescence maximum at 677 nm and 690 nm, respectively. This emission wavelength is outside the range of autofluorescence of mammals (450-650 nm), thus potentially providing high contrast for in vitro/in vivo imaging between target and background tissue autofluorescence. The squaraine dye was also characterized using NMR and LC-Mass spectroscopy. Finally, we used dynamic light scattering (DLS) to determine the size and polydispersity of the nanoparticles formed by analogous polymers and a commercially-available dye.