UMD and JHU Students Join Forces for Research Day

Undergraduates from the Clark School's Fischell Department of Bioengineering (UMD BioE) and Johns Hopkins University's Department of Biomedical Engineering (JHU BME) recently participated in a new annual event designed to showcase the impact and quality of undergraduate research, and to encourage classmates to pursue their own laboratory experiences.

"Amplifying the Field: Undergraduate Contributions to Biomedical Research," held March 1 on the JHU Homewood campus in Baltimore, was conceived by the two universities' student chapters of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). Chapter presidents John Kim (JHU BME) and David Peeler (UMD BioE) hosted the event, which included guest speakers from BMES and both schools' faculties, a poster session, dinner, and an awards ceremony.

Speakers included BMES' Isabel Regena Borkoski, who discussed the benefits of becoming involved with a professional society, whether one planned for a future in research or industry; and professors Jordan Green (JHU BME) and Ian White (UMD BioE), both of whom stressed that in both the job market and graduate school applications, "undergraduate research trumps straight As."

When you participate in undergraduate research, White told the audience, "you learn to think like a researcher, gain confidence, interpret information, and relate what you've learned to other things. Those benefits apply to many future career paths."

About two dozen posters were exhibited, and six authors among those who submitted were selected to deliver oral presentations. A team of faculty judges representing both schools gave awards to the top three presentations, while students voted for the best poster.

The winners, who received certificates and cash prizes, were:

  • Mary Natoli (UMD BioE), who took 1st Place for her oral presentation, "Point of Care Diagnostics for Aminoacidopathies in Infants;"
  • Hyun Sung Park (JHU BME), who took 2nd place for his oral presentation, "Formation of Neuromuscular Junction in a Microfluidic Device;"
  • Jeff Rappaport (UMD BioE), who took 3rd Place for his oral presentation, "Characterizing the Uptake of Targeted Nanocarriers for Drug Delivery Across the Blood/Brain Barrier;" and
  • Maxwell Collard (JHU BME) and Mythili Mandadi (UMD BioE), who tied for the Best Poster Award for "Toward Real-Time Decoding from Directed Functional Connectivity of the Electrocorticogram" and "Characteristics of Polyurethane vs. Natural Rubber Latex Condoms in the Presence of Primary Ingredients in Commercial Personal Lubricants," respectively.

Peeler says despite the effort it took to organize the event across two campuses, working with his counterparts at JHU was a pleasure. "Faculty support is what made the event happen, though," he adds, "and I was happiest that the judges from both sides were as impressed by our students as I was!" He hopes the joint event continues to grow and generate interest when it is held on the College Park campus next year.

"I was very proud of the students of both universities for investing tremendous energy into organizing this," says UMD BioE associate professor and director of undergraduate studies Adam Hsieh. "It was particularly rewarding to see the excitement with which all of the students presented their work, the depth of knowledge and skill they gained from their [research] experiences, and the cross-campus sharing of ideas. These are the reasons why we, as scientists and engineers, embark on a research career, and it was just great to observe the students reflecting the same ideals at the event. It was a remarkable inaugural effort."

"Amplifying the Field" was made possible by sponsorship from BMES, NanoString, Johns Hopkins University, Tau Beta Pi, and the University of Maryland. The organizers and attendees also wish to thank the judges for their time and participation: Feilim Mac Gabhann, Xingde Li, Raimond Winsolow and Rene Vidal from JHU BME; and William E. Bentley, Adam Hsieh, Silvia Muro and Ian White from UMD BioE.

In addition to Peeler and Kim, the event's organizers included JHU BMES chapter members Anvesh Annadanam (Treasurer), Luis Herrera (Secretary) and Melissa Sajnani (Chapter Development Chair); and JHU BME Undergraduate Program Manager Cathy Jancuk.

Published March 13, 2013