Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical Sciences


Michael Mason

Second Committee Member

Deborah Bouchard

Third Committee Member

Karissa Tilbury


Aquaculture is a large part of the food production sector which is greatly expanding. One of the largest losses in aquaculture is due to pathogens. Current solutions for protecting farmed finfish from pathogens can be very expensive with variable efficiency. Current disease prevention strategies include vaccination. Types of vaccines include immersion vaccines, feed vaccines, and injectable vaccines. The most popular solution is oil-based injectable vaccines due to its protection. However, the oil-based adjuvant used in most of these formulations causes adverse reactions in the fish including reduced growth. These vaccines require multiple administrations throughout the fish’s lifetime causing unwanted handling stress and additional labor costs. Preliminary trials show that cellulose nanomaterials cause minimal adverse reactions when injected into salmon and does not significantly affect their growth. The goal of this research was to create an adjuvant from cellulose nanomaterials which would increase bacterin efficacy while avoiding harmful side effects. A prolonged release formulation was also desirable, obviating the need for multiple vaccinations. Additionally, hydrogels have been used for a wide variety of applications including drug delivery, making them an attractive aquatic vaccine adjuvant. Cellulose nanomaterials were decided as the polymer to make up the hydrogel matrix due to their biocompatibility, sustainability, high tunability, high abundance, low cost. The development of the hydrogel formulation, modifying the hydrogel for easier delivery into the salmon, measuring the diffusive properties of the hydrogel, and in vivo testing of the hydrogel for analysis of delivery methods and reactions to the formulation are described in this research.