Undergraduate Research Opportunities
Contact Dottie Welch, the Undergraduate Program Coordinator.
As part of one of the smallest of the top research institutions, the University of Rochester Biomedical Engineering Program is committed to providing every undergraduate with a meaningful exposure to the research process, while providing opportunities for many students to have a more intense research experience. Several of the courses in the BME core provide a guided approach to the research process through course projects, and many students choose to supplement their curriculum with summer research experiences or independent study courses. Our goal is to provide students with the opportunity to develop:
- Abilities to search and use the scientific literature
- An appreciation of the value of research
- An understanding of the research process
- Experience in collaboration and an interdisciplinary approach
- Effective communication skills
- An awareness of opportunities for their futures
Research in the Curriculum
As part of our required BME core, the following courses provide an exposure to the research process. Below are some examples of the projects included.
- BME 101
A four-credit freshman or sophomore course utilizing the spectrum of examples of BME applications to introduce the scope of the discipline and its range of significance. As a final project, students prepare a scientific poster presentation describing a topic in biomedical engineering. Numerous course milestones guide students through the process before a final half-day scientific poster session held in the Munnerlyn Atrium of the Goergen Building.
- BME 201P
A one-credit sophomore course in which students learn how the MATLAB computer programming language can be used in Biomedical Engineering. As a final project, students worked with scientific data presented by graduate student TAs and develop a graphical user interface (GUI) to perform an analysis. For example, some students used micro-computed tomography images of bone to predict bone density and risks for osteoporosis, while others analyzed gait data to calculate muscle activities. By working directly with graduate students, our undergraduates hear about the importance of computational methods in research and learn about opportunities for their futures.
- BME 201
In the Fundamentals of Biomechanics, students complete a written final report in which they use a custom MATLAB program to analyze a biomechanical problem. For example, students have worked with pilot data generated in a collaborative study between the Department of Orthopaedics and the Ithaca College Movement Analysis Lab to analyze the different strategies used by young and elderly people when rising from a chair.
- BME 260
In the senior year, students in the Quantitative Physiology course write a term paper in which they research a biomedical problem for which engineering efforts have been applied. Papers include a thorough literature search as well as an explanation of the contributions of the engineering analysis to innovations.
In each of the four concentration areas, students must also complete an Upper Level BME course within their concentration. Each of these courses includes a term project in which students apply their engineering and biological background to relevant problems in their field. Whether a critical review of the literature, a research proposal, or a computational analysis, students complete several milestones and deliver both reports and oral presentations to document their work. For example, in Biosolid Mechanics, one group of students used Finite Element Analyses to study the risk of wrist fractures in snow boarding, while another analyzed novel designs for hip implants. In Biomedical Ultrasound, students write an NIH-style research proposal to use ultrasound technology to develop a novel diagnostic or treatment system.
Our BME Senior Design course also offers an opportunity for students to use their research skills in real innovation and design of medical devices. In this year-long experience, students work in teams to develop a prototype to address a challenge in biomedical engineering. While the emphasis is on creativity and innovation, research skills are critical in searching the patent databases. scientific literature and market potential for their designs.
Research Opportunities Outside the Classroom
Students may choose to work for a faculty member in the BME department, or other laboratories in the medical center or other research centers to experience a more complete exposure to the research setting. Whether through part-time employment, independent studies, or formal research programs, nearly 75% of our students report having a research experience outside the classroom as part of their undergraduate careers. Interested students can contact individual faculty members directly, or work with the Career Center or Dottie Welch, the Undergraduate Program Coordinator to identify opportunities. Some students have been able to attend national conferences to present their research efforts, or have been named as co-authors on publications.
NIBIB Bioengineering Summer Internship Program Intern, Will Sipprell
BME Student, Will Sipprell participated in NIBIB's summer internship program in 2008. He worked with Maria Liebedowska in the NIH Clinical Center Rehabilitation Department doing research on muscle movement and cerebral palsy. In this video, he serves as a healthy subject for the study.
(undergraduate authors are listed in bold)
- (2013). Development of a scale for estimating procedural distress in the newborn intensive care unit: The Procedural Load Index. Early human development. pii: S0378-3782(13)00093-5. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2013.04.007. [Epub ahead of print]
- (2011). Two-detector Corrected Near Infrared Spectroscopy (C-NIRS) detects hemodynamic activation responses more robustly than single-detector NIRS. NeuroImage. 55(4):1679-1685.
- (2011). Prediction of Biomechanical Properties of Trabecular Bone in MR Images with Geometric Features and Support Vector Regression. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng.
- (2008). Signal Processing of Sounds Using a Computational Model of the Auditory-Nerve. BMES.
- (2008). Microvascular endothelial cells exhibit optimal aspect ratio for minimizing flow resistance. Annals of Biomedical Engineering. 36:580-585 (invited paper for Special Issue honoring Prof. Harry Goldsmith).
- (2007). Micro-computed tomography prediction of biomechanical strength in murine structural bone grafts. Journal of Biomechanics. 40(14): 3178-86.
- (2004). Three-dimensional in vitro Model to Study Alveolar Pressure-Volume Response. Amer J Respir Crit Care Med. 169:A738.
- (2004). The Effect of Hematocrit and Leukocyte Adherence on Flow Direction in the Microcirculation. Annals of Biomedical Engineering. 32:803-814.
- (2003). Motion analysis and mathematical modeling of the forces in the adult rabbit knee joint during hopping. Advances in Bioengineering. BED-Vol 52.