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This Concordian could win a $2,000 science photo prize

Postdoc Ehsan Rezabeigi's image of a microscopic drug-delivery system is one of 20 finalists in La preuve par l'image
June 5, 2017

Ehsan Rezabeigi: “Winning the contest would encourage me to put even more effort into this research.” Ehsan Rezabeigi: “Winning the contest would encourage me to put even more effort into this research.”

Postdoctoral researcher Ehsan Rezabeigi (PhD 15) is once again making waves in the world of science photography.

Last year’s winner of the NSERC Science Exposed contest has produced another image that caught a jury’s attention — this time for La preuve par l’image 2017, run by l’Association francophone pour le savoir (Acfas).

In the context of his work at l’École de Technologie Supérieure (ÉTS), in collaboration with Concordia, Rezabeigi studies materials and tissue engineering with a focus on polymer composites.

By dissolving polylactic acid in two solvents and electrospraying the resulting solution, he produces highly porous microbeads. Three times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, they have the potential to deliver drugs to the human body through a controlled release process.

Rezabeigi’s image of one such microbead, captured by a scanning electron microscope, is among 20 in the running for this year’s Acfas photo prize. All the nominated pictures are on display at Montreal’s Biodôme from now until the end of December 2017.

You can vote for your favourite until October 1. The winners will be announced at the 73rd Gala de l’Acfas on November 8. The jury will award three prizes of $2,000 each, and a fourth prize of $2,000 for the audience favourite.

‘I hope to bring my research to the next level — with real-life applications’

How does this image (top) illustrate your research at Concordia?

Ehsan Rezabeigi: I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at ÉTS. However, this image was produced through the research I conducted in collaboration with Concordia (under the co-supervision of Paula Wood-Adams).

The idea behind my primary research at ÉTS, which led to this image, was based on my PhD research in Concordia’s Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering. The results are proving useful for other studies in similar fields, such as my current postdoctoral work.


What does it mean to electrospray a polymer?

ER: Electrospinning is a fibre-production technique that uses electric force to draw threads of polymer solutions or melts. If the polymer solution or melt is not viscous enough, tiny droplets — microbeads — may form instead of long, uniform fibres. This is called “electrospraying.”

Why is it important to be able to create these microbeads with cavities?

ER: These micron- and nano-sized cavities can potentially contribute to the controlled release of substances (e.g. drugs or catalysts) that are embedded in and carried by the microbeads.      

Why are the structures shaped as they are?

ER: The porous microbead in this microscopic image has been produced via electrospraying of a ternary solution consisting of polylactic acid and two solvents. The incorporation of the second solvent results in the formation of two phases in the solution. One of these phases more rapidly evaporates during the electrospraying process, leaving behind the cavities.

How did you photograph the microbead?

ER: This image was captured using a scanning electron microscope. The sample was coated with gold/palladium using a sputter coater. The colour was added to the microbead using Photoshop to make the details more pronounced.

Where are you at with your studies?

ER: After my work at ÉTS, I plan to join a research team at McGill University, as I recently received an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship. I am pursuing an academic career and I would like to continue my research in this field (materials and tissue engineering) after becoming a faculty member.

What would winning La preuve par l’image mean to you?

ER: Winning this contest would definitely encourage me to put even more effort into this research and bring it to the next level, hopefully with real-life applications.

Why did you choose to do your research at Concordia?

ER: I did my PhD at Concordia so I would have the opportunity to work with knowledgeable supervisors whom I learned a lot from, as well as great equipment and excellent learning environments and laboratories. 

Cast your vote in La preuve par l’image
. The deadline is October 1, 2017.


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