Student spotlight: Ian Gimino

Lauren Smith

Oct 25, 2023

Ian Gimino

Source: Ian Gimino

During a College of Engineering leadership development class, Ian Gimino heard from a panel of graduate students. He remembers that when asked if they ever encountered a technical task they couldn't do or learn, "the grad students looked at each other and laughed. 'You will figure it out eventually,' they said, 'because of all the knowledge and problem-solving skills you're learning.'"

Gimino is now a senior majoring in chemical engineering with an additional major in biomedical engineering. As vice president of the Carnegie Mellon University chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), Gimino thinks it's important to provide a space for ChemE students to connect across classes.

The ChemE Pals program was Gimino's first introduction to AIChE. The program pairs younger ChemE students with more senior student mentors. It was a particularly welcoming introduction to the department during Gimino's first year, when operations were virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Because I was at home and I had never been to campus, it really helped to meet more senior students and to hear from them what the program is all about," remembers Gimino. "I think that was a big step in my decision to major in ChemE. In addition to my interest in the technical aspects, the people were nice and generous." He's since paid it forward, mentoring a younger student through ChemE Pals last year.

"We're a close-knit group," Gimino says about his classmates. "ChemE is tough, so it's really nice to have the shared bond."

Much like the graduate students who spoke to his leadership development class, Gimino is confident in the rigor of his education.

"You learn how to be in a lab space in Lab I, and that carries on through the other lab courses. The sequence of classes and the chain of things that you have to learn, I think it all really prepares you well," he says.

The sequence of classes and the chain of things that you have to learn, I think it all really prepares you well.

Ian Gimino, Undergraduate student, Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering

At the earliest opportunity, Gimino began applying his coursework as an undergraduate researcher. During the summer after his first year, he reached out to Tzahi Cohen-Karni, professor of biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering, and joined his lab.

A nanobioelectronics group, the Cohen-Karni lab investigates materials for biomedical applications. Gimino is part of a project using materials for oxygenation. He is working with laser-induced graphene to produce oxygen. He's using a laser to turn a carbon substance called polyimide into graphene, which has good electrocatalytic properties.

"Right now in the field, the standard materials used for producing oxygen use the same technology as in hydrogen fuel cells. It's called the oxygen evolution reaction," explains Gimino. "Usually platinum or iridium are used. Both of them are biocompatible, and both are very expensive." The research motivation is to find a more cost-effective alternative, because there are many potential biomedical applications for the oxygen evolution reaction.

"Few-layer graphene, FLG, has been shown to be biocompatible," says Gimino. "It competes with iridium and platinum as far as oxygenation, and it costs much less, for the whole contraption: the laser and the polyimide film."

Two students stand looking at a research poster

Source: Ian Gimino

Ian Gimino presents his poster, “(K-419) Laser-Induced Graphene as a Catalyst in Localized Oxygen Production for Wound Healing,” at Biomedical Engineering Society's 2023 Annual Meeting in Seattle.

Gimino is working on a device that will control the amount of oxygenation in a large tissue wound. "You can reduce the scar tissue, induce vascularization, and heal the wound faster," he says. "The cool thing about our device is that you can turn it on and off."

Gimino says that the ability to problem solve is the biggest thing he's learned as a ChemE major. He's noticed that these skills permeate a lot of the things he does, including his work as an EMT with CMU Emergency Medical Service. While the protocols they memorize are good guides when they're in emergency situations, Gimino notes that a lot of the work involves problem-solving.

"When facing a problem, you have your resources and what you know, and then you have to figure it out from there. You start compartmentalizing it and solving little problems," he says.

After he graduates, Gimino plans to attend graduate school and is considering both Ph.D. and MD programs.

"I love learning about different, specific processes that lead to one goal. I think ChemE has been a pretty integral part of that," he says.