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16 ResearchStudents 0728 MKL 17

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FINAL: Sophomore McKearn fellowship student and engineering major Nicole Hoffmann of Antioch, IL, works in the biology lab on her research project, which involves taking nanoparticles that she created, and testing them in pancreatic cancer to see how quickly they are absorbed.
Hoffman said that starting from the age of five, she knew she wanted to be an astronaut. “I’ve always known. My parents thought it was a phase. But it never left my mind.” Her work with nanoparticles is just a stepping-stone towards that goal. By developing nanoparticles that can be easily absorbed, the research lends itself to further development of treatments to counteract bone and muscle atrophy in zero gravity. “I’m just a baby,” Hoffman says of her age, “But I know what I want to do.” Her mother would confirm her determination. According to Hoffman, she declares; “‘I’m terrified. But I can’t stop her.’” But even with this, they stand behind her decisions. “My family has been very, very supportive. I’m very blessed. I love what I do. And it doesn’t even feel like work.”

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