Haley Marie Tholen

Senior in Engineering Mechanics
Hometown: Lake Elmo, Minnesota
Research Project: Biocompatible Substrate Fabrication for Coral Reef Restoration
Faculty Sponsor: Prof. Amy Wagoner-Johnson
Research Mentor: Dr. Mark Levenstein

Being an out-of-state student, Haley was not familiar with the U of I but was amazed with the possibilities it could offer. She views the undergraduate experience as an opportunity to explore new things, learn from the most inspiring people in the world, and discovering passions that you never know existed.

During her Coral Reef Restoration Internship in Curacao, Haley collaborated with marine biologists to use extrusion printers as an approach to prototype microhabitats to optimize coral larval settlement and survival. Her role then turned to being the lead engineer developing the most efficient and effective ways to restore coral reefs using additive manufacturing techniques. Haley also studied in the Delft University of Technology in Netherlands to connect with a professor there who is the inventor of Bio-concrete so that she can learn about integrating the material in her research project. Her current research focuses on designing a “living” or “active” substrate using sustainable materials that incorporate crustose coralline algae.

Haley thought that she would eventually go to industry after graduation. She did not expect to like doing research. Now, she “wants to do research for the rest of [her] life!” After graduation, in Fall 2021, she will be attending the Pennsylvania State University to pursue a PhD in Mechanical Engineering under Dr. Ryan Harne.

Fun Facts:
Haley enjoys running, sports (particularly water sports), and listening to podcasts. She is also a certified scuba diver!

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