Tissue reconstruction may be needed to correct tissue defects and damage caused by tumor resection, trauma or congenital defects. Limitations to current clinical treatment for tissue defects include tissue availability, difficulty in transfer of the tissue, and donor site morbidity. Engineered tissues could be used as alternatives to traditional surgical methods to repair, restore or replace damaged tissue. Marcella Vaicik, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology, traveled to Taiwan to collaborate with renowned plastic and reconstructive micro-vascular surgeon Dr. Ming Huei Cheng at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital focusing on engineering biomaterials from natural sources for use in tissue regeneration. The collaborative project focuses on combining adult human stem cells with naturally derived biomaterials for soft tissue reconstruction. In developing a clinically useful engineered tissue it is important for the biomaterial to enhance the tissueâ€™s own efforts for self regeneration and repair. Vaicikâ€™s research included evaluating the ability of tissue derived biomaterials to support cell growth, promote adult stem cell differentiation, and stimulate vascularized tissue growth. She isolated adult human stem cells from discarded surgical waste fat for use in combination with the biomaterial. This project is an on-going research collaboration working towards developing clinically useful engineered biomaterials for soft tissue reconstruction. Since returning from Taiwan Vaicik has presented about her experience conducting international research as part of the NSF EAPSI program at the Society of Women Engineerâ€™s annual conference to encourage more women to pursue engineering careers.