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Ti'Air R

- 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


Hi 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.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

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.

Coding skills

matlab, python

Languages I know

SOME french and spanish

Teaching experience

Tutor for Mathnasium, TA'd for undergrad engineering courses, lectured for biomedical and freshman engineering courses and given invited talks at major science conferences.


Work experience

Case Western Reserve University, Veteran Affairs (2022 - Current)
Postdoctoral researcher, NIH fellow
Michigan State University (2019 - 2021)
Research assistant, NIH Fellow
Boston Scientific (2016 - 2016)
Engineering operations intern
Mathnasium LLC (2012 - 2013)
Math Tutor


Ohio State University
BSE Bachelor of Science in Engineering (2011)
Biomedical Engineering
University of Cincinnati
MSE Master of Science in Engineering (2013)
Biomedical engineering
Michigan State University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy (2021)
Biomedical Engineering

Completed Projects

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