Brianna Manns is a mechanical engineering student graduating in May 2018. She has been on the Dean’s List every semester since her freshman year in fall 2014. She was also an awarded Scholar Athlete for the two years she was on the Division I women’s lacrosse team at San Diego State.
Brianna is a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society, the Society of Women Engineers, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. In her junior year, she was the Events and Membership officer for the Society of Women Engineers, where she planned gatherings to encourage membership to women in STEM at SDSU. In her senior year, she was the Fundraising officer, where she planned fundraisers to raise money for women at SDSU to attend national and district SWE conferences throughout the year. As a SWE officer, she has enjoyed the outreach that the society has done with younger girls in the community. She has volunteered her time at multiple events that get middle schoolers and high schoolers hands-on experience in STEM activities and promotes interest in science careers at a young age. Brianna is also the Tau Beta Pi Secretary officer, which includes planning and running events, encouraging membership through sending weekly emails, and recording meeting minutes during officer meetings.
Brianna started working voluntarily in the Mechanical Engineering research lab of Dr. Parag Katira, Ph.D. in January 2016 during her sophomore year. The first focus she had was studying actin-myosin contractile forces in muscle tissue through the use of a computational model. The approach was to test the effects of myosin motor head spacing on the motor stepping rates and transition times, along with it’s effect on the overall muscle performance. The results of the research showed that regularly spaced motor protein placement along the muscle filament is necessary to maximize the power output of the system.
At the start of her junior year, she began researching characteristics of cancer cell migration and proliferation in 3D tissue environments through computational models. Her specific task was to identify a single metric that could predict the risk of malignant tumor growth in initially normal healthy tissue environments. She helped define and estimate this metric, called the patchiness index based on the global to local phenotypic diversity in the cells comprising a healthy tissue. The results showed that an increase in the patchiness index of a tissue environment increased the likelihood of the tissue transitioning from a healthy to cancerous. While the results are purely theoretical at this stage, this is possibly the first such predictive measure of tumor likelihood and malignancy in a healthy person.
Brianna also started work at General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. as a Airworthiness Systems Engineer in June 2017. She continued her internship, working 25 hours a week, during the school year. She uses her engineering background and industry best practices to confirm that the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is able to obtain, maintain, and complete flight safely. She accepted an offer to continue working as a full-time Airworthiness engineer upon graduation.