Summer Research


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.

2019 BME Projects:

BME Project 1: Instructional Change in Higher Education: Impact and Practice

Faculty mentor: Aileen Huang-Saad, Ph.D.
Required skills: N/A
Dr. Huang-Saad’s ( research investigates how BME education can support engineering student professional growth and identity development through instructional and organizational change. Depending on student interest and project needs, the research may focus on one of two topics: (1) how student exposure to and involvement in teaching and learning impacts career development; (2) the impact of BME interdisciplinary education on student professional development. Students will be responsible for analyzing survey and interview data through qualitative and quantitative means and exploring relevant literature. The student will work closely with members of the Transforming Engineering Education Laboratory and participate in cross functional teams to see how different disciplines impact higher education. Interested students should contact Dr. Huang-Saad ( for more information or to apply.

BME Project 2: 3D Scanning and Digital Design of Customized Craniofacial Devices

Faculty mentor: Kyle K. VanKoevering, MD
Required skills: Ideally, the student would have experience in CAD Modeling (Solidworks) and segmentation software (Materialise Mimics Innovation Suite), 3-Dimensional Printing (both SLA and FDM) and potentially some molding techniques or concepts. Ideally has been HIPPA trained and clinically cleared for patient interaction.
This project focuses on the use of high-resolution 3D scanning and modeling technology to develop customized devices and prosthetics for patients with craniofacial or head and neck anomalies, in an effort to improve cosmetic and functional performance for these patients. Examples include a customized cannula or plug for tracheostomy patients or laryngectomy patients, digitally designed reconstructive silicone prosthetics after disfiguring surgical resection (removal of the ear or nose, for example), or custom-fitted CPAP masks for patients who cannot find a commercial mask that fits appropriately. The project will require intensive 3D modeling experience and printing expertise as well as exposure to silicone molding techniques. Would ideally work with several clinicians and patients during scanning and device fitting sessions.

BME Project 3: 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 4: Antibiotic resistance & 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 treatments. 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 drugs to counter antibiotic-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: Cancer metabolism & precision medicine

Faculty mentor: Sriram Chandrasekaran, Ph.D.
Required skills: Familiarity with MATLAB or Python. Basic knowledge of biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics. Experience working with big-data (genomics, transcriptomics) is a plus.
This project involves the application of computer models to simulate the metabolic properties of tumors. The computer models will be built using genomics, metabolomics and transcriptomics data from various types of cancer cell lines. By understanding the unique metabolic properties of each cell type, we can design drugs that target specific tumors. Further, knowledge of these differences will be used to design synergistic drug combinations tailored to each patient.

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: Development of an artificial ovary

Faculty mentor: Ariella Shikanov, Ph.D.
Required skills: Enthusiasm and great work ethics are mandatory. Students with or without previous laboratory experience are welcome and the project can be adjusted to any skill level.
Premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) is a debilitating complication of cytotoxic treatments invariably occurring due to extreme ovarian sensitivity to chemotherapy and radiation. In children with cancer, modern anticancer therapy has improved the survival rates to over 80% in the United States, however these cancer survivors face long-term health problems. In female cancer survivors POI leads to sterility, along with the consequences of estrogen deficiency such as premature osteopenia, muscle wasting, and cardiovascular disease. Currently, the standard of care for POI is hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which delivers poorly controlled, non-physiological levels of estrogen that affect growth in peripubertal girls, and may predispose them to breast and ovarian cancer and potentially life-threatening thrombotic events over the long term. This project aims to restore ovarian endocrine function in adolescent girls with POI using implanted ovarian allograft encapsulated in an immunoisolating capsule.

We have designed an immunoisolating hydrogel-based capsule that supports survival and function of an encapsulated ovarian allograft and restores normal physiological endocrine ovarian function. Our design accommodates structural and functional changes that occur in ovarian follicles during the estrous cycle and permits sufficient oxygenation and nutrition, and has proven successful in mice. However, mouse and human ovarian tissue are fundamentally different in tissue composition, follicle density and spatiotemporal control over the number and size of follicles reaching maturity. Thus, the current study focuses on two questions. The first question is function and survival of the tissue, in which we will test whether the encapsulated and implanted human ovarian follicles survive, grow and function in the dual capsule with degradable core and non-degradable as a first step in translating this novel approach to clinical trials. The second question is the immune response of the host, in which we will test whether the capsule maintains its integrity and prevent immune rejection of the encapsulated xenogeneic ovarian tissue.

The principal outcome of the proposed research will be an implantable capsule for human ovarian tissue graft enclosed within a dual hydrogel immuno-isolation device, which allows restoring ovarian endocrine function. If successful, it will provide a clinically translational opportunity to induce physiologically normal puberty and ovarian endocrine function in young girls with POI.

The student will be involved in all aspects of the project, including the experiment design, calculations, hydrogel preparation, characterization, data collection and analysis and presentation. The student will be responsible to prepare all the reagents and buffers.

The student will get the chance to learn the various steps of the experiment design in biomaterials laboratory. Hands-on experience with materials engineering and design will be combined with data collection and analysis.