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

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.

2017 BME Projects:

BME Project 1: 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.

BME Project 2: Radon gas measurements for detecting nuclear weapons and earthquakes

Faculty mentor: Kim Kearfott
Required skills: Motivation to learn, basic programming skills, solid mathematics and physics background.
Radon gas is a ubiquitous naturally occurring radioactive material that occurs throughout the environment and in all buildings, at least in small amounts. It can be readily detected, and presents health hazards when in high concentrations. Radon gas levels change as a function of local weather conditions, as well as the heating or cooling situation within a building. They have also been observed to change many days in advance of major earthquakes. This project involves the study of radon gas as a function of time both indoors and outside. State-of-the-art equipment is deployed both to measure radon gas as well as to track local weather and other conditions such as solar and background radiation from other sources. Students may participate in both experimental data collection as well as analysis of large data sets. Discrimination of airborne transuranics from naturally occurring radon gas is particularly important for worker protection during commercial nuclear power plant outages and dose control during emergencies. Topic is especially suitable for students ultimately interested in homeland security/treaty verification, nuclear power plant operations, and/or radiation protection.

BME Project 3: 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 4: 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 5: Smart Detectors, Drones, and Radiation Monitoring Stations

Faculty mentor: Kim Kearfott
Required skills: Motivation to learn, basic programming skills, solid mathematics and physics background.
Radiation is everywhere! Significant natural radiation exists near deposits of uranium and radium, which include uranium mining areas of the United States as well as as a result of processes such as fracking. It is used in medicine and industry, and a large number of radionuclides exist because of nuclear weapons testing and routine releases from nuclear power plants. This project involves the design of smart dectectors for usage by radiation protection specialists, and for deployment on drones and in fixed radiation monitoring stations with publically available data. Special algorithms are being developed along with new radiation detector designs for nearly all applications of radiation detectors.

BME Project 6: Title: Engineering the ECM to control cell behavior

Faculty mentor: Brendon M. Baker, Ph.D.
Required skills: Varies depending on specific project.
Our research focus is to understand how structure and mechanics of the cellular microenvironment influence fundamental cell processes such as migration, proliferation, and extracellular matrix (ECM) synthesis.  We develop novel, tunable biomaterials that mimic the 3D and fibrous nature of native ECMs, can be dynamically remodeled by cells, and have the potential to be scaled to implantable tissues directly.  Combined with molecular tools, live imaging, microfabrication and microfluidic techniques, and multi-scale mechanical characterization, these materials allow us to study the physical interactions between cells and their surroundings.  Mechanistic understanding resulting from these studies provides insight into ECM-mediated diseases such as cancer and fibrosis, but can also be co-opted for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications. Current available projects in the lab are centered around 1) building fibrotic disease models in vitro, 2) engineering blood vessels, and 3) programming cell migration, matrix synthesis, and cell death.