As an undergraduate mechanical engineering student, Damion Dixon saw himself eventually working in industry and designing jets or other machines. After beginning his doctoral work in the University of Georgia College of Engineering, his vision shifted and Dixon now works on a much different machine: the human body.
His research, focused on creating bioactive and stimuli-responsive scaffolds for bone tissue regeneration, has earned Dixon a prestigious Southeastern Conference (SEC) Emerging Scholars Assistantship for the 2022 – 2023 academic year. An initiative of the SEC provosts, the program serves as a pathway and source of mentorship for historically underrepresented doctoral and postdoctoral students across the SEC to prepare for tenured faculty positions in higher education.
“I still want to focus on aspects of mechanical engineering, but I enjoy the biology involved in our research,” said Dixon, who is part of the team in the Tissue Regeneration Laboratory led by Cheryl Gomillion, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering.
Currently, Dixon is developing and testing electrically conductive 3D-printed composite scaffolds, designed to enhance the growth of bone tissue in conjunction with electrical stimulation. His research is a component of the lab’s efforts to develop engineered natural replacements for composite tissue systems to repair and restore damaged or diseased tissues. One of Dixon’s research studies has been published in Journal of Function Biomaterials and he recently submitted a second study to another journal .
In addition to funding Dixon’s doctoral research, the SEC Emerging Scholars Assistantship covers funding for an SEC Networking and Career Fair for scholars, travel to discipline-related conferences and other research support.
After completing his doctoral work, Dixon plans to work in academia – teaching and continuing his research. He credits Gomillion with giving him an opportunity to work in a lab with a biomedical focus despite his background in mechanical engineering.
“When I joined the lab, I had no experience as far as cell culture or tissue engineering, but she took a chance on me and was extremely patient,” said Dixon. “Like her, I want to be that person that gives people a chance.”