Graduate Students Rein in Spring Honors

For Weldon's graduate students this spring was not only a season of an abundance of rain and research, but also presentations and awards. This spring our graduate students reined in honors as their hard work and dedication inside the lab, and out, earned them high recognition.
The Joe Bourland Graduate Student Travel Award provides travel support to Weldon's graduate students presenting at conferences as part of their graduate studies. Dr. Joe Bourland was one of the "Fab 4" to come from Baylor University, along with Dr. Geddes, Dr. Tacker, and Dr. Babbs, in 1974 to begin the Hillenbrand Biomedical Engineering Center that eventually became the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. Winners are reimbursed, to the extent that such support is permitted under University policies, for a portion of their travel expenses.
Patrick Schexnailder traveled to the 235th American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting, April 6-10, 2008 in New Orleans, LA. He gave an oral presentation entitled Poly(ethylene oxide)-Laponite Derived Hydrogels for Synthetic Extra Cellular Matrix Applications, and also presented a poster entitled Structure of Nanocomposite Hydrogels with Different Ionic Strengths.  Patrick is studying with Professor Gudrun Schmidt.

Mary-Margaret Seale and Mike Zordan both just returned from the International Society for Analytical Cytology's 24th International Congress in Budapest, Hungary. Mary-Margaret presented two poster presentations, Targeted magnetic nanoparticles: optimization for cellular delivery and Automated high-capacity quadrupole magnetic flow sorter with single-use components.

Mike presented three posters, and won an Outstanding Poster Award for one titled A novel multiplatform method for the clonal isolation of rare cancer cells.   Zoran said, "I likely would not have been able to attend the conference if it weren't for the Joe Bourland Travel Award that I received.  Ms. Seale and Mr. Zordan are both studying with Professor Jim Leary.


The Magoon Award is administered by the College of Engineering and is given in honor of Estus and Vashti Magoon and the influence they had on the lives of many engineering educators early in their careers. Teaching Assistants for the 2007-2008 academic year were nominated by BME faculty instructors. Recipients of the Magoon Award were:
  • Javier Gonzalez Castillo for BME 595G, Medical Device and Engineering Analysis
  •  Yunzhou (Sophia) Shi for BME 305, Bioinstrumentation
  •  Hamsa Jaganathan for BME 304, Bioheat and Mass Transfer
  •  Lester Smith for BME 405, Senior Design
  •  Vincent Chan for BME 201, Biomolecules: Structure, Function, and Engineering Applications
The Celebration of Graduate Student Teaching Award is administered by the Committee on the Education of Teaching Assistants (CETA) and the Office of the Provost.  Vincent Chan, was honored this year for his teaching excellence in BME 201, Biomolecules: Structure, Function, and Engineering Applications. Vincent was honored at a Purdue-wide banquet held on April 17.
The NSF Grades K-12 Fellowship, sponsored by the Discovery Learning Center at Discovery Park, was awarded to Heyjin Park this spring. The fellowship offers a unique opportunity for graduate students in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and is funded by the National Science Foundation and Purdue University. Fellows serve a one-year fellowship as "visiting scientists" in a program designed to instill the excitement of learning science into middle school classrooms. Teamed with 6th, 7th, and 8th grade science and math teachers, Heyjin will develop lesson plans and teach interdisciplinary-focused experiments geared toward science in everyday life.  At the time of publication, Ms. Park was still awaiting more details on her fellowship.
The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) was bestowed upon Catherine Whittington. The GRFP provides students with three years of funding for research-focused Master's and PhD degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.  The purpose of the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program is to ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and to reinforce its diversity by offering approximately 1,100 graduate fellowships in this highly competitive program.

Catherine Whittington just completed her first year of graduate school and joined Professor Sherry Harbin's team in the spring.  Currently, she is working on a reporter gene construct and transfection process with the hope to monitor single cells within 3-D tissue matrices.  Catherine hopes to focus her work within tissue engineering for microcirculation and vasculogenesis solutions.

The Geddes-Laufman-Greatbatch Award is presented annually to the outstanding student or post-doctoral fellow for an academic year. Dr. Geddes established this award after he received the 1987 AAMI Foundation/Laufman-Greatbatch Prize in recognition of the importance and unparalleled diversity of his contributions in biomedical instrumentation.
Brian C. Ward, an MD/PhD candidate working with Professor Alyssa Panitch, was awarded this year's Geddes-Laufman-Greatbatch Award.  Brian has worked very hard to lead BMEGSA, and make it an organization that can support professional growth, leading to significant change in the organization over the last year. The students have taken ownership of the society and are creating a strong bond to the school. There is a strong sense of caring and commitment from the organization. Academically, Brian is on track to graduate in three years with as strong a thesis as most students have in 4-5 years.
Sigma Xi Graduate Student Research Poster Awards were awarded to three students in Professor Riyi Shi's laboratory at a banquet on April 16.


  • Jianming Li earned First Place (engineering science) for his poster Novel three-dimensional polymeric scaffolds for neural tissue engineering.
  • Hui Ouyang received an Honorable Mention (engineering science) for her poster Functional deficit of spinal cord white matter after decompression is proportional to the strain and duration of sustained compression during injury.
  • Kristin Hamann earned First Place (life sciences) for her poster Acrolein Scavengers as Potential Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury.