- Research Program Mentor
PhD at Michigan State University
biomedical engineering, neural engineering, neuroscience, cellular signaling pathways, implantable electrodes, astrocytes, neurons, implantable neurotechnology, neurodegenerative diseases, deep brain stimulation, neurolink 'like' devices, cell culture, neuroimaging
BioHi my name is Ti’Air Riggins and I am a Biomedical Engineering PhD, who recently graduated from Michigan State University. I received my bachelors in Biomedical Engineering from The Ohio State University in 2011 as the first black undergraduate BME student, and proceeded to earn a master’s from the University of Cincinnati in 2013. Beginning my PhD at Purdue, I then transferred to Michigan State in January 2019. My research focus is integrating tissue engineering with implantable electrodes to tune immune response in the brain, in the REIL lab under the direction of Dr. Erin Purcell. I am also a co-founder for Black In Neuro, the Academia Chair for the Health Innovations special interest group of the National Society of Black Engineers, a local organizer for Com Sci Con MI, and am in the speaker’s bureau for the Rape And Incest National Network. I have served in the community under my platforms of sexual assault awareness and exposing underrepresented students to STEM as Miss Indiana United States 2015 and has received awards for her Social Justice in 2016 and Humanitarianism in 2018. I was named a fellow in the Society for Neuroscience from 2016 – 2018 and is also a NIH F99/K00 fellowship awardee, and am now a current postdoctoral researcher at Case Western Reserve University & Veteran Affairs. My future goals include managing her own lab and being a successful entrepreneur and mentor for students who are underrepresented students in neuroscience and engineering.
Neurotechnology design features' impact on the identity and function of reactive astrocytes
I work with these brain computer inteface devices called microelectrode arrays. They communicate with neurons in the brain and allow for tetraplegic patients to regain some level or movement once again. The problem is after a few years, these arrays stop working. The reason why is that these other specialized brain cells, called astrocytes, act like body guards towards the neurons. They see these little devices and try to cover them up to protect the neurons. The problem is after awhile, the astrocytes behavior changes and they actually end up killing neurons. My job is to figure out what makes these astrocytes harmful and if I can reverse that process.