Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy


Biomedical Engineering


Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering


Sebastián L. Vega, Ph.D.

Committee Member 1

Erik Brewer, Ph.D.

Committee Member 2

Peter A. Galie, Ph.D.

Committee Member 3

Vince Z. Beachley, Ph.D.

Committee Member 4

Valerie J. Carabetta, Ph.D.

Committee Member 5

Tae Won B. Kim, M.D.


Biomedical materials; Hydrogels; Tissue engineering


Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering


Cells within natural tissues are exposed to a myriad of biochemical and biophysical cues, and it is challenging to recapitulate these signals in vitro. The goal of this dissertation is to create materials with distinct biophysical and biochemical signals as platforms that induce controllable yet diverse cellular responses. To evaluate the effects of heterogeneous biophysical cues on cell behavior, cells were encapsulated in porous scaffold-hydrogel composites, and it was found that cellular metrics (morphology, matrix mechanosensing) varied within soft (hydrogel) and rigid (scaffold) composite regions. To create soft materials with spatially defined biochemical signals, hydrogels that can be subsequently photopatterned with thiolated peptides were formed. This platform was used to synthesize hydrogels biofunctionalized with bactericidal peptides as novel antimicrobial coatings. It was found that hydrogels coated with multiple AMPs at their optimized concentration were the most effective in their antimicrobial properties. Rigid materials are limited by the inability to tether biochemical moieties with spatial control, and to address this, a unique simple technique was developed by blending norbornene to PCL to photopattern thiolated peptides onto solid film surfaces and nanofiber arrays leading to rigid materials with bioactive peptides. Taken together, the materials presented feature complex biophysical and biochemical signals and have wide ranging applications in biomedicine.

Available for download on Monday, December 01, 2025