Date of Award


Author's School

McKelvey School of Engineering

Author's Department

Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Type



This thesis explores the micromechanical environment induced when cyclically compressing hydrogels via finite element modeling and experimentally on the impact of loading on mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) when encapsulated withing 3D hydrogel matrices. Degenerative joint diseases, characterized by cartilage degradation, present significant challenges due to cartilage's limited self-repair capacity. Innovative approaches, including stem cell-based therapies and engineered biomaterials, have emerged as promising strategies for cartilage repair and regeneration. This work specifically investigates the calibration of a bioreactor, the uniformity of load response across the hydrogel constructs via finite element modeling (FEM), and the stress response of MSCs subjected to various dynamic loading conditions in an in vitro setting. Through FEM, it is shown that the immediate cellular environment is similar across waveforms. Additionally, the response is consistently separated into three spatial group of similar response, with varying size, regardless of the prescribed loading waveform. Finally, experimental analysis of loaded MSCs shows an increase in the medium nitrite concentration, indicating an elevated stress state. These studies create a platform to test and further understand MSC mechanobiology as well as provides a framework for effectively modeling cellular environment with FEM and analysis of that output


English (en)


Lori Setton

Committee Members

Matthew Bersi Amit Pathak