February 2013

Daniel Song Memorial Scholarship Established
Through the generosity of Ping and Daphne Song, the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering has received an endowment to establish the Daniel Song Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship celebrates the life of the Songs’ son, Daniel. A 2008 graduate of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, Daniel lost his life in an automobile accident December 20, 2008, while returning to campus to participate in graduation ceremonies the following day.

“Daniel was a very likeable student; full of ambition, talent and with a goodly dose of humor,” said George Wodicka, professor and head of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. “He will always have a special place in the memories of the Weldon School family.”

Daniel came to the U.S. from China at age six. From an early age he enjoyed science and sports, especially swimming. As a youngster, he participated in the school science fair. He earned money for college by mowing lawns, working at a grocery store, and serving as a lifeguard. He enjoyed traveling across the United States, visiting many National Parks and cities along the way. His father attests that he loved his life in America so much that he joked with his parents that if they ever moved back to China he would ask to be adopted by his friend’s family.

At Purdue, Daniel participated in the 2006 Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program and performed additional biomechanical undergraduate research in the summer of 2007.  He was active in the Purdue Engineering Student Council and helped to organize a variety of outreach activities. In spring, 2008, Daniel was a member of the inTENSE senior design team that developed a programmable tendon bioreactor to provide additional therapeutic alternatives to individuals with a compromised tendon. The team presented the project at the senior design forum on May 2, 2008, and won the Top Senior Design Team Award.

Truda Strange, Daniel’s undergraduate academic advisor, remembers him well. “I always looked forward to seeing Daniel because he was always in such a good mood and always wore a smile,” Strange said. He had such a positive attitude and was so proud to be a student in our program. He wore Purdue and BME proudly.”

Because the Weldon School is relatively young, graduating its first class of undergraduates in May 2007, the alumni base from which many scholarships arise is still comparatively small. Scholarships are critical for helping students attend college who may not otherwise be able to. It is also a way to honor the memory of someone special.

“He is a part of our life and only child, and we miss him every single day,” said Ping Song on the reasons he and Daphne Song established the scholarship in Daniel’s name. “He touched a lot of people in his very short life. He was a responsible, dedicated, enthusiastic young man. We wanted to keep his memory alive forever, if possible, and inspire similar qualities in college students who are as equally driven to succeed.”  

You can help keep the memory of Daniel alive, while providing a life-changing opportunity for Weldon students, by supporting this scholarship fund. Click here to support the Daniel Song Memorial Scholarship fund.

For more information about giving to the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, contact:

Brian Knoy, Director of Development, at bjknoy@purdue.edu or (765) 494-6241.


Weldon School Welcomes Three New Faculty Members
The Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering is pleased to announce the addition of three new faculty members: Sarah Calve, Craig Goergen, and Tamara Kinzer-Ursem, all assistant professors of biomedical engineering.

The growth of BME faculty is in alignment with the University’s strategic initiative, announced in fall 2012, to grow the College of Engineering over the next five years by as many as 107 new faculty—an increase of 30 percent.

“The additional faculty will enable the School to grow undergraduate and graduate student enrollment, expand the breadth and depth of our research areas of excellence, and create additional research opportunities and collaborations across campus and beyond,” said George Wodicka, professor and head of the Weldon School.

All three faculty members are currently recruiting undergraduate and/or graduate students into their laboratories. For more information, see our Current Research Opportunities page.

Sarah Calve

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Sarah Calve received her B.S. in materials science and engineering at Cornell University, and earned both an M.S. degree in molecular, cellular and developmental biology and a Ph.D. in macromolecular science and engineering from the University of Michigan. Her doctoral thesis was titled “Morphological and Mechanical Characterization of Self-Assembled Tendons and Myotendinous Junctions.”

During her graduate research, she developed a 3D, in vitro model of tendon comprised solely of primary tendon cells and the extracellular matrix they secreted. In order to accurately determine the stress-strain response it was necessary for her to build instrumentation that measured strain optically while simultaneously recording force data. Her postdoctoral research has focused on characterizing the influence of extracellular matrix remodeling during musculoskeletal regeneration and repair. She holds two patents for her muscle and tendon remodeling methods.

Craig Goergen

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Website: https://engineering.purdue.edu/cvirl/

Craig Goergen received his B.S. in biomedical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in bioengineering from Stanford University. His postdoctoral training in molecular optical imaging at Harvard Medical School focused on cardiac disease and left ventricular remodeling.

His current research interests lie at the interface between engineering and medicine, with a focus on developing and using multiple imaging techniques to better understand cardiovascular disease. By using small animal disease models, his in vivo imaging efforts with ultrasound, magnetic resonance, and fluorescence have quantified disease progression of both abdominal aortic aneurysms and heart attacks. Future work will continue to use translatable multi-modality physiologic and molecular imaging to answer clinically relevant research questions.

Tamara Kinzer-Ursem

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Website: https://engineering.purdue.edu/ursemlab/Home.html

Tamara Kinzer-Ursem received her B.S. in bioengineering from the University of Toledo and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan.

In both her doctoral and post-doctoral studies in molecular neuroscience, she studied the dynamics of G-protein coupled receptor and Ca2+-dependent protein networks that are important in cellular function. She also engineered neuronal proteins that are functionalized with bioorthogonal reactive groups, and built microarray platforms that enable quantitative, high-throughput biochemical assays. Her research has combined these techniques in the development of technologies that enable high-throughput, quantitative, characterization of protein network regulation. This interdisciplinary research has formed the focus of quantitatively studying the protein signaling networks that form the molecular basis of learning and memory—specifically, the processes that control neuronal synaptic strength.


Alyssa Panitch to Complete ELATE Program
Alyssa Panitch, professor and associate head of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, will complete the rigorous Executive Leadership in Academic Technology and Engineering (ELATE) program next month. ELATE at Drexel™ is a national leadership development program designed to advance senior women faculty in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), and related disciplines into leadership roles within their universities.

ELATE is an intensive full-year, part-time fellowship program, and Panitch was one of 12 women faculty from 11 U.S. universities selected by Drexel for its inaugural year.

“As a member of the External Advisory Board of ELATE, I was delighted that Alyssa agreed to apply and was accepted in the inaugural class of ELATE Fellows,” said Klod Kokini, associate dean of academic affairs and professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue. “Alyssa is exactly the type of faculty that the ELATE program aims at developing. She is an outstanding researcher, educator, and entrepreneur.”

Participants of the ELATE program engage in intense educational activities that cover a broad range of topics on the inner workings of academia. The activities are designed to help participants use strategic approaches to financial and resource management that enhance the missions of their organizations; adapt their leadership behaviors to effectively address strategic, operational, and relational challenges; lead and manage change initiatives within complex and dynamic academic organizations; and develop and participate in a variety of learning communities of practice that support academic organizational leadership.  

Panitch said that participating in activities with her learning community was one of the features of the program that she enjoyed most.  

“The simulations that we’ve participated in allowed us to learn about our own leadership style and about working with others who have a broad range of experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives and doing that sometimes under high stress situations. So, even though it’s a simulation, your true colors come out.”

One of her biggest takeaways from that experience is the value of speaking up. “When I feel strongly about things I need to sit down and explain why I feel strongly and why I feel like we’re missing some of the points,” said Panitch. “Even if that makes me feel uncomfortable. Even if that means rocking the boat.”  It was a transformational experience for all participants, and which led to some lasting ties.

“The biggest benefit by far is the network of really incredible women around the country--all women in engineering and computer science who are on a path to leadership, all very impressive,” said Panitch.  “I can pick up the phone and call any one of them at any time and talk to them about anything, and they can do the same, which is really nice.”

The fellowship year culminates in the completion of an Institutional Action Project, developed in collaboration with the fellows' dean or provost. Panitch, who has been involved in launching three companies, chose to study the operations and decision-making processes of start-up companies with an eye toward applying that knowledge to developing best practices for launching university centers.

Although Panitch believes that anyone, including men, could benefit from the leadership training offered through ELATE, the goal of ELATE is to increase the diversity of leaders in academe.  The percent of women full professors in engineering at four-year educational institutions is below five percent. Only about ten percent of all engineering deans are women.

There are several factors that contribute to the low numbers of women in leadership positions in academia, and ELATE aims to help women address them. Panitch was already an accomplished individual before participating in ELATE.  Now she and her fellow ELATE graduates are set to foster an even stronger community of exceptional women academic leaders with broad organizational perspectives and deep personal capacity to address emerging issues in their schools and universities, and the society they serve.

Panitch, who joined the Purdue faculty in 2006, specializes in bioorganic chemistry. Her research interests include the design and synthesis of biomaterials for drug delivery and tissue engineering and the development of biomimetic therapeutic peptides for vascular, neural and fibrotic diseases.

Super Bowl Caps Football Season, Purdue Research on Sport's Safety Continues
The Super Bowl may be over, but for Purdue researchers Eric Nauman, biomechanical engineering professor, and Tom Talavage, biomedical engineering professor, and the team at the Purdue Neurotrauma Group, the drive to improve the safety of the sport continues.

Nauman has patented a new helmet liner that reduces G-force to a player's brain by 50 percent. Nauman says reducing energy to the brain would be a huge leap forward for helmets that have remained largely unchanged for more than 30 years. Read more about it:

Purdue News: Experts: New football helmet technology can cut G-force to brain by 50 percent

Journal and Courier: Their Goal is to Save Football: If Purdue research bears fruit, more will play a safer game

Please let us know of your accomplishments, as well as your ideas to help us improve the publication. As always, we welcome you to join us as we advance both higher education and the medical device and biotechnology fields. If you are interested in learning more about the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, please contact Brian Knoy at bjknoy@purdue.edu. We would like to learn about you, answer your questions, and schedule a visit.