Stevens student David Monteiro ’14 was recently awarded a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship, making him one of only 271 college undergraduate students who received the award nationally for the 2013-2014 academic year. The Goldwater Scholarship program supports academically-outstanding college sophomores or juniors who intend to pursue careers as scientists, mathematicians and engineers.
Monteiro, the son of a computer engineer and a clinical researcher, is a Chemical Engineering major with a 3.99 grade point average and a noble lifelong goal – to eradicate arthritis and improve the quality of life of millions of people worldwide.
“Arthritis is a major problem facing the world’s growing elderly and overweight populations,” said Monteiro. “I am fascinated by the cartilage tissue engineering research that is being carried out in an attempt to find a cure. Three years ago, I thought the solutions were far away. Now I know how close they really are.”
Monteiro was first exposed to arthrology, the study of joints, as part of the highly-competitive Stevens Scholars Program, which involves the university’s finest undergraduates in hands-on research alongside faculty members.
Under the guidance of his research advisor, Stevens Chemical Engineering & Materials Science Professor Woo Lee, Monteiro has spent three summers in the Stevens Center for Microchemical Systems, where he has cultured chondrocytes and grown mature cartilage within microfluidic chambers – cartilage that could eventually replace tissue lost to arthritis.
Monteiro’s other pursuits – in the lab, in industry, in coursework and in extracurricular activities – have also advanced his pursuit of an arthritis cure.
Monteiro has explored both bacterial and cartilage cell growth in synovial fluid – the lubricant present in human joints – in Professor Henk Busscher’s Biomedical Engineering Department at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands.
Through Stevens’ Cooperative Education (Co-op) program, he also worked for one semester on the Advanced Materials team of Stryker Orthopedics, exploring solutions to lower the mechanical failure rate of implants. Orthopedic implants are often considered a last resort to combat irreparable damage caused by prolonged arthritis.
Monteiro is also pursuing a master’s degree in Computer Science, and his coursework has enhanced his Chemical Engineering research.
“Software environments such as MATLAB allow me to model joints and predict cell behavior under variable flow conditions,” he said.
Monteiro has presented posters at conferences in Salt Lake City and Davos, Switzerland, and his research has won awards at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) student conference at the regional and national levels.
Outside of academics, Monteiro is a member of the Gear & Triangle Honor Society, treasurer of the 1870 Society, a brother of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, a performer in Stevens Concert Band, and active inStevens student chapter of AIChE.
Monteiro’s long-term career goals include earning a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering and eventually leading his own university research lab focused on arthrology.
“I enjoy being a researcher because it means I am always at the forefront of advances in my field,” Monteiro said. “I hope to continue my research success into my doctoral work.”