Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Nathan Oldenhuis


The importance of hydrogel 3D cell encapsulation to mimic dimensionality, mechanics, and other factors found in the extracellular matrix (ECM) has set off a boon in gelation methods. While current methods have established success in synthetic ECM analogs, persistent issues of cost, synthetic demands and cytotoxicity remain. Here we establish a route to 3D cell culture utilizing native chemical ligation (NCL) through β-thiolactone ring opening which avoids cytotoxic biproducts as a novel improvement to previously reported NCL cell encapsulation techniques. Moreover the β-thiolactone-fuctionalized polyethylene glycol (PEG) backbone and multifaceted N-terminal cysteine polypeptide crosslinkers achieves gelation faster than current NCL-based hydrogels. Here we layout a method to establish an innocuous and facile method to a 3D cell scaffold platform that can be tuned and manipulated to vary aspects such as degradability and hydrogel formation kinetics.

Available for download on Tuesday, July 05, 2033