November 2005

Greetings from the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering!
Event Date: October 20, 2005
George R. Wodicka and the BME building
George R. Wodicka stands in front of the new Biomedical Engineering Building.

Greetings from Purdue's newest and only named engineering School, The Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

We hope you enjoy our first Biomedical Engineering electronic newsletter. Our goal is to share the exciting and phenomenal growth happening at Purdue and in the School. Fall has been a very exhilarating time. Let me highlight a few significant milestones:

  • One of the most tangible and truly unifying endeavors has been the construction of our new Biomedical Engineering building. As alumni, students, corporate partners, friends, faculty, and staff, it is a facility in which we can all take enormous pride. Furthermore, it is with great delight to report that the building is ahead of schedule and will be ready for occupancy this summer with a dedication to take place next fall.
  • A gift announcement during homecoming from the Guidant Foundation helped us create Biomedship, a partnership between the Weldon School, the Krannert School of Management, and the Indiana University School of Medicine. Please read below more about this innovative program for students interested in biomedical entrepreneurship
  • Our first undergraduate class is now in their junior year. Also, we have an excellent sophomore class, with a new crop of freshman anxiously awaiting to join the Biomedical Engineering student body that numbers nearly 100
  • Over the course of the last year, we have hired 6 new faculty members and are on our way to recruiting a total of 20 additional faculty members. They bring a wealth of expertise in such areas as neuroengineering, biomechanics, drug delivery systems, tissue engineering, and flow cytometry
  • One of the biggest attractions at Purdue for incoming faculty and students is Discovery Park. It provides the infrastructure for multidisciplinary research, teaching, and technology transfer. We are pleased to serve as the campus gateway to the park, enabling us to collaborate on novel ideas that will change the face of Purdue and help promote economic development in the State of Indiana and beyond
  • As always, we appreciate your support, advice, and guidance. Your participation is crucial to our continued success, and with your help we will reach even greater heights.

    Best regards,

Weldon’s New Home Progressing Rapidly
Event Date: October 20, 2005
The new home of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering has taken shape and has begun to “fill” with the components that will transform it from a structure into the premier biomedical education and research facility in the world.

According to staff engineer Kirk Foster, who is serving as point person for BME on completion, “The building is progressing rapidly and is on schedule for move-in during the summer of 2006.” Classes and research will formally start with the fall 2006 semester, and the building will be dedicated around Homecoming. Gr oundbreaking for the new building occurred on September 26, 2003 and was made possible in part by a generous grant from the Whitaker Foundation.

All too often, the design of any new facility is based on the past. An institution tells a designer that they need X-type of building, so many square feet, so many classrooms, so many labs, and a new building is proposed based on the way things have always been done. This time, design has been focused on the future.

As biomedical engineering bridges many different disciplines, the design process for the new building brought together architects, faculty members, and staff in new ways. Plans and ideas were examined in light of how they will affect, or be effected by, emerging teaching and research paradigms as well as advances in technology.

The result is a design that enhances discovery on multiple levels, from encouraging student and faculty interactions with informal and formal gathering spaces to strategically aligning research facilities, so as to maximize sharing of both traditional and non-traditional resources.

In areas where a need for continual adaptation is expected, from interpersonal interactions to technology changes, provisions were made to allow quick modifications to meet future needs.

The building site was chosen so that it functions as a gateway between the academic campus and the expanding, translational research-intensive Discovery Park area of the university. Key buildings within walking distance include the Lynn Hall of Veterinary Medicine, the Birk Nanotechnology Center, the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entreprenuership, the Bindley Bioscience Center, and Lilly Hall.

Internal arrangements were designed with connectivity in mind as well:

  • The proximity of multi-sized classrooms, instructional laboratories, team-based project rooms, counseling areas, and informal interaction spaces creates a unique learning environment and encourages an integrated and fluid movement of people, activities, and ideas
  • A good example of internal connectivity is found in the central instructional laboratory complex. Contained in this interconnected complex are a wet-bench laboratory (cell and tissue biology), an instrumentation laboratory (mechanical and electrical testing), a tissue culture facility, and a microscope darkroom (light and fluorescence). A central prep room and instructional coordinator’s office link the multi-faceted learning activities scheduled for all levels of undergraduate laboratories

Research labs are clustered along thematic lines for flexibility and synergy:

  • Flexible response to the continuous, fast-paced, changing needs of the medical industry and healthcare is critical to successful biomedical engineering, and to the education of tomorrow’s biomedical engineers. This new facility is designed to enhance this capability for both teaching and research activities.
  • One example of this adaptability is the design of the “Flex Lab” instructional laboratory space. This centralized space for engineering design courses has been provided with a “dance floor” arrangement that easily allows benches and other mobile equipment to be quickly reconfigured for the varied aspects of prototype design and testing

Designers worked with faculty members and staff researchers to ensure that all resources needed, from consumables to appropriate electrical power supply, were readily and safely accessible.

Securing research space for taking stable measurements with highly sensitive instrumentation was also configured into the overall building design. The building incorporates a number of these specialized areas. One example is the optics laboratory which is built on its own concrete slab in the basement, and sits independent of the rest of the facility. This design ensures that vibrations which could affect measurements are eliminated. In other labs, special lighting equipment was chosen to eliminate lighting-induced electromagnetic interference with extremely discriminating sensors.

Guidant Foundation Gift to create Biomedship
A major announcement during Homecoming festivities was a $525,000 gift from the Guidant Foundation to launch an innovative and interdisciplinary program between the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, the Krannert School of Management, and the Indiana University School of Medicine.
Known as “Biomedship,” the program will foster entrepreneurial ventures in biomedical technology by bringing together business, researchers, and physicians, and in so doing facilitating the development of new treatments and technologies.


BME And Oceanography: New Frontiers For A Weldon Student Intern
Event Date: October 1, 2005
When junior Hamsa Jaganathan applied for an internship at NASA, she had no idea that getting accepted would see her working in oceanography on research that could help improve public health and see her invited to present a paper half a world away. Nor did she know just how much her class work in BME would prepare her to do this important research.

Hamsa was selected to work in an oceanography group at NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, as a part NASA-Undergraduate Students Research Program. There she worked on two experiments in the largest phytoplankton laboratory on the East Coast, led by her NASA mentor Dr. Tiffany Moisan. Phytoplankton are microscopic plants that live on the surface of oceans, with some species being harmful to the environment and to humans. One of the goals of the research was to determine specific colors (wavelengths) for each species, so that each could be identified and monitored by satellite.

“Our team went to the Chesapeake Bay coasts and collected samples of the phytoplankton at different depths of the ocean. I, then ran samples in a spectrophotometer and spectrofluorometer, and collected the absorbance levels of the phytoplankton at different wavelengths for each depth of the ocean. With this information, we can find the highest and lowest concentration of phytoplankton at specific depths in Atlantic Ocean,” states Hamsa.

Hamsa also noted how her coursework at Weldon prepared her for the experience. “The classes I took my first semester of sophomore year were very helpful in my research. We learned about biomolecules and specifically, spectrophotometry. The basis that I learned from Purdue helped me understand the experiments more clearly and provided me background knowledge on the various tests that I preformed.”

She goes on to note that her mentor at NASA played to those strengths: “My mentor at NASA was very impressed about my interest in biomedical engineering. Although she was an oceanographer, a lot of the techniques of researching and testing were very similar to the field of biomedical engineering. She understood the similarities and gave me projects that I could relate back to my classes, such as using instruments like the spectrophotometer and the fluorometer.”

Dr. Moisan was obviously impressed with more than just her preparation. Not only did NASA invited her back for another summer, but Hamsa was also one of ten students from the US chosen to participate at the International Astronautical Conference in Fukouka, Japan. Over 30 countries participate at this conference, both professionals and students.

Hamsa summarized the internship, “This was truly the greatest experience I’ve ever had. The things I learned in classes transitioned great to the real-world-hands-on-research I did. I had a lot of support from family, friends, and of course, Purdue’s BME department.”

Bindley Bioscience Center Dedicated
Event Date: October 1, 2005
The walls are moveable, the utilities drop down from the ceiling, a staff is available to assist research leaders with incorporating new or specialized technology to research efforts, and some 18,000 square feet of space are now available to interdisciplinary researchers seeking to advance collaborative research in nanotechnology, biology, and engineering.

The Bindley Bioscience Center was dedicated October 1, and is one of the centers that is part of the connectivity provided by the new home of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.


Birck Nanotechnology Center Dedicated
Event Date: October 1, 2005
Imagine a repairman capable of entering and working in a human cell, or a specialized tool invisible to the naked eye being built atom by atom. These are just a few of the promises of nanotechnology, and Purdue is advancing its leadership in this critical area with the dedication of the Birck Nanotechnology Center on Oct. 8.

The 187,000-square-foot facility hosts a suite of clean rooms and “high accuracy” labs that will allow structures to be probed on almost an atom-by-atom basis. As with the Bindley Center, the Birck Nanotechnology Center is a critical part of the connectivity provided by the new home of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.


We would like to hear from you!!
Event Date: October 1, 2005
We hope you have enjoyed the first electronic newsletter from the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. Our intention is to provide you with news of the School, its students, alumni, and industry partners on a regular basis. Doing this requires something from you: Your Input. We need your comments and suggestions on each issue; information on what you want to see covered; and, most of all, your news.

Please submit news items and other feedback to Brian Knoy at If you have received this message in error, or no longer wish to receive it, please send an e-mail with the subject line UNSUBSCRIBE to

In The Next Issue

New Faculty Update

Faculty Profiles