Summer Research

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Make your summers count

The Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering (SURE) program provides summer research opportunities for U-M undergraduates; the Rackham Summer Research Opportunity Program (SROP) serves undergraduates from outside U-M.

Apply for a Summer Research program

You are welcome to contact faculty if you have additional, specific questions regarding these projects. After your application is received (in late January), you will be contacted and asked to list your top three projects, in order of preference. You are also welcome to list these preferences on your application.

There is no requirement to contact the faculty mentor of your selected project(s) before being selected. The matching process is performed by an internal committee and applicants are chosen based on their application to fill the number of spots available to the department. Selected students are then matched to faculty mentors by the committee. You are welcome to submit letters to strengthen your application, but they are not required. If you can get a letter from a project sponsor for example, it would be a good idea to have them submit that.

Upcoming BME projects will be listed starting in November; the application period runs through late January. Accepted applicants rank their top three projects in order of preference, and an internal committee matches applicants with projects.

Projects are added as they become available. Please check back for updated listings.

2018 BME Projects:

BME Project 1: Radiation dose measurements for workers, patients, and chain-of-custody for special nuclear materials

Faculty mentor: Kim Kearfott
Required skills: Motivation to learn, basic programming skills, solid mathematics and physics background.
Dosimeters are passive, integrating materials used to monitor the radiation exposure of workers in nuclear facilities. Although all workers receive dosimeters, there are different types and they have different performance characteristics. New dosimeter types and ways of calibrating and deploying them are being developed in the laboratory. For the first time ever, a method has been developed to extract how dose was delivered as a function of time during the radiation exposure has been developed. Dosimetry systems are also used for medical applications including radiation therapy, diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine. The limitations of different types of dosimeters are being actively compared and characterized for medical applications, while a novel dosimeter is being developed to serve as a chain-of-custody detector for nuclear treaty verification. Students are engaged in both experiments and data analysis. Topic is especially suitable for students ultimately interested in homeland security/treaty verification, medical physics, nuclear power plant operations, and/or radiation protection.

BME Project 2: Radiation spectroscopy for the practical identification of radionuclides and radiation sources for protection of the public from environmental radiation, nuclear accident dose reconstruction, and nuclear weapons treaty verification

Faculty mentor: Kim Kearfott
Required skills: Motivation to learn, basic programming skills, solid mathematics and physics background.
Energy spectroscopy involves the determination of the energy of particular types of radiation, which are characteristic of the source of radiation. Alpha, gamma, and neutron spectroscopic devices are calibrated and deployed to solve real-world problems involving radiation sources. Students may become involved in nuanced calibrations, data interpretation, and specific measurement campaigns involving a variety of both state-of-the-art and newly developed instruments used for radiation spectroscopy. Applications of an imaging spectrometer to the medical environment as well as for naturally occurring radioactivity may also be explored. Topic is especially suitable for students ultimately interested in homeland security/treaty verification, medical physics, nuclear power plant operations, and/or radiation protection.

BME Project 3: Neurostimulation for chronic pain management

Faculty mentor: Scott Lempka, PhD
Required skills: Interest in clinical and/or computational modeling studies
The goal of our research group is to develop the necessary tools to study electrical stimulation therapies for various neurological disorders, such as chronic pain. This project may involve the collection and analysis of data from human subjects and/or computational modeling work to understand how the electrical stimulation affects the nervous system.

BME Project 4: Computational drug combination discovery

Faculty mentor: Sriram Chandrasekaran, Ph.D.
Required skills: Familiarity with MATLAB programming. Basic knowledge of microbiology and genetics. Knowledge of machine learning is a plus.
The focus of this project is to understand antibiotic resistance and design novel drug combination therapies using computational approaches. 100,000 people die and a million others are sickened by antibiotic resistant bacteria in the United States every year. There is an urgent need to develop high-throughput approaches to screen promising therapies to counter drug-resistance. The student will apply computer algorithms developed in our lab to identify potent antibiotic combinations for treating drug resistant microbial infections.

BME Project 5: Systems biology of stem cell metabolism

Faculty mentor: Sriram Chandrasekaran, Ph.D.
Required skills: MATLAB or Python programming. Basic knowledge of biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics. Experience working with big data (genomics, transcriptomics) is a plus.
Stem cells holds great promise for regenerative medicine. This project involves the application of computer models to simulate the metabolic properties of stem cells. The computer models will be built using genomics, metabolomics and transcriptomics data from various types of stem cell lines. By understanding the unique metabolic properties of stem cells, we can design nutrient conditions specific to each cell type. Further, knowledge of these differences can be used to engineer cells towards a specific cell states.

BME Project 6: Constructing microporous polymer scaffolds to transplant embryonic stem cell derived Beta cell progenitors to treat Type I Diabetes

Faculty mentor: Lonnie Shea, Ph.D.
Required skills: Interest in in vitro and in vivo research. Attention to detail. Curiosity and independent decision-making skills desired.
The recent clinical successes using islet transplantation have demonstrated that cell replacement therapy has the potential to be a viable treatment for Type 1 Diabetes. Current clinical approaches deliver islets through the portal vein and subsequently reside within the sinusoids of the liver. This approach requires large numbers of islets due to limited survival or hypofunctionality of the islets following transplantation. The Shea lab is currently directing the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to become Beta cell progenitors in vitro, providing an unlimited source of cells for therapy. We are exploring different approaches to culture the derived cells to improve the maturation and function of the beta cell progenitors. We then use microporous scaffolds consisting of different biomaterials including polymers and hydrogels to deliver the derived cells into a clinically translatable, extrahepatic site of a Diabetic mouse model. The goal of this project will be to promote the engraftment of stem cell derived pancreatic progenitors and their maturation toward mono-hormonal insulin producing Beta cells in order to treat Type 1 Diabetes.

BME Project 7: Combinational strategies for nerve regeneration after spinal cord injury

Faculty mentor: Lonnie Shea, Ph.D.
Required skills: Interest in in vitro and in vivo research. Attention to detail. Curiosity and independent decision-making skills desired.
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) causes paralysis below the level of damage, which results from neuron and oligodendrocyte cell death, axonal loss, demyelination, and critically, the limited capacity of spinal cord neurons to regenerate. Although spinal cord neurons have the innate capacity to regenerate, they are limited by the environment, which contains an insufficient supply of factors to promote regeneration, and an abundant supply of factors that inhibit regeneration. Our long-term goal is to develop a combination therapy based on biomaterials that can 1) bridge, and 2) modulate the injury microenvironment, enabling promotion and direction of axonal growth into, through, and re-entering spared host tissue to form functional connections with intact circuitry below the injury. Critically, over three decades of research on CNS regeneration and SCI have made it clear that this complex problem requires a combinatorial solution that targets both tropic and inhibitory barriers.

BME Project 8: Overcoming immune responses

Faculty mentor: Lonnie Shea, Ph.D.
Required skills: Interest in in vitro and in vivo research. Attention to detail. Curiosity and independent decision-making skills desired.
We are using biocompatible nanoparticles to delivery peptides in a way that reverses immune disorders. However, there is the potential for undesired immunological responses that can occur in individuals with a history of specific peptide exposure. We are investigating nanoparticle cell interactions and immune recognition of particles. This project will involve nanoparticle fabrication, cell culture, and assessment of immune responses in mouse models.

BME Project 9: Improving neuroprosthetic interfaces with the peripheral nervous system

Faculty mentor: Tim Bruns, Ph.D.
Required skills: Interest in in vivo research. Attention to detail. Lab experience.
We have a goal of developing improved interfaces with the peripheral nervous system. In acute and long-term experiments, we are examining the use of penetrating and non-penetrating electrodes for recording neural activity and driving nerve responses. This project may involve electrode fabrication, implant surgery, data collection and analysis, and review of nerve-implant histology.