Alumni Spotlight: St. Mary's and Notre Dame ESTEEM Graduate Kelly Deranek

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

In recent years, the development and application of nanoparticles has exploded in research laboratories and the development of new technologies.  Nanotechnology is used to create new types of sunscreen, to miniaturize computer chips to develop more efficient solar panels, and to create new means of drug delivery.

Nanoparticles are increasingly used in more consumer goods, however, little is known about their biological effects on people. Kelly Deranek, a 2011 graduate of the ESTEEM program and alumni of Saint Mary’s College, collaborated with Dr. Paul Huber to examine the toxicity of nanoparticles in frog embryos, which provide an efficient model to observe potentially damaging effects that nanoparticles can have on development. Under the guidance of Dr. Huber, Kelly devised a business model based upon a high-throughput screening method that companies could use to ensure their products, containing nanoparticles, are safe. Through her work, Kelly contributed to an increasing the awareness of the adverse biological effects of nanoparticles called nanotoxicity. Access to this screening method enables companies to identify if nanotoxicity exists in their products, and adequately protect their employees handling the materials, the environment, and consumers, all of which are tenets of the triple bottom line.

michelle_and_kellyUpon graduation, Kelly was hired by Zimmer Holdings, a biomedical products company that specializes in orthopedic implants. Asan orthopedic trauma consultant, Kelly assists orthopedic surgeons in the operating room by providing information on implants that are used during surgery. “My job requires a great understanding in anatomy and physiology”, Kelly notes, “as well as the business skills necessary to go out and market these devices to doctors.” With a little help from the ESTEEM program, Kelly acquired the skills necessary to achieve success after graduation.

Photo: 2011 Zimmer Sales Academy

Kelly Deranek (Center right) along with 2011 St. Mary's/ND ESTEEM graduate Michelle Kappes, (Far right) and two fellow Zimmer sales academy students.