Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical Engineering

First Adviser

Jedlicka, Sabrina S.

Other advisers/committee members

Cheng, Xuanhong; Tatic-Lucic, Svetlana; Zhang, Xiaohui


Tissue engineering is a field that aims to replace or repair damaged tissue through the use of stem cells, biomaterials, and biomolecules. Human mesenchymal stem cells are multipotent adult stem cells that can be autologously transplanted. This work describes the effect of mechanical cues on human mesenchymal stem cells. An analysis on the age-related stiffening of these cells, and its effect on osteogenic and myogenic differentiation, is presented. This study gives insight to those using stem cells in vitro for extended periods of time. The effect of mechanical loading on stem cell differentiation is examined. Tensile and compressive loading are used to induce myogenic and osteogenic differentiation, respectively, in the absence of chemical cues. This study demonstrates that loading alone can accelerate differentiation. A 3-D cell culture method for cardiomyocyte differentiation is also explored. Numerous cardiomyocyte markers were observed, signifying that this method may be superior to chemical induction methods. A biodegradation study of four porous polymers is also presented, as scaffold choice is of great importance in the area of tissue engineering. This research provides guidance to those using human mesenchymal stem cells for tissue engineering.