These scholarships are awarded annually to UAB students who must travel to out-of-state locations to get access to library materials, to study at out-of-state research sites, or to learn new research techniques required to complete their research projects.
Zhang is currently working on optical mapping of the heart. Such mapping is usually performed on non-contracting hearts, but Zhang is part of a group that is developing a method that can simultaneously record cardiac mechanical deformation and cardiac electrophysiological activity in isolated hearts with a working left ventricle.
To accomplish this, Zhang will use the Ireland scholarship to work with a team at George Washington University in a mutually beneficial collaboration. “Our goal is to combine UAB’s motion-tracking and correction method, which is not available at GWU, with their biventricular working heart model and NADH fluorescence method, which is not available at UAB,” says Zhang. “This will give both groups a more complete picture of the effects of stretch and mitochondrial redox state on arrhythmia induction during acute ischemic events.”
Students are nominated for Ireland scholarships by their graduate program director and their mentor. Selection of the recipients is based on an evaluation of each nominees research travel needs by a faculty selection committee.