Department of Biomedical Engineering hosts undergraduate research experience

University of California at Berkeley student Justin Bui giving a presentation
University of California at Berkeley student Justin Bui did research at VCU's Computational Physiology Lab through a summer undergraduate research program.

A dozen undergraduate students from VCU and other universities around the country got the chance to participate in research related to mechanobiology of disease and nanomedicine at VCU Engineering over the summer.

Each student was embedded in a faculty member’s lab and worked on an individual project with guidance from a mentor. The labs included those of biomedical engineering assistant professors René Olivares-Navarrete, Ph.D., and Daniel Conway, Ph.D.

“I was really impressed with the amount of work they got done,” said organizer Rebecca Heise, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, citing the students’  findings and the new questions they uncovered. As cohort members, “they got to interact with each other and learn from each other.”

Several of the students submitted proposals to present at the annual Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) based on work they did while at VCU. The BMES Annual Meeting will be held Oct. 17-20 in Atlanta.

The program was modeled after the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. It was hosted by VCU College of Engineering, the Department of Biomedical Engineering and NSF. Heise said she is seeking to run the program again next year.

This summer program complements the VCU Dean’s Undergraduate Research Initiative (DURI), which provides a three-semester research experience for College of Engineering students. “Seeing all of these engineering students working side by side and learning from each other is what undergraduate education should be about,” said Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Jr. Dean of the College of Engineering.  “It invigorated our campus in ways that only our students can.”