Research Projects

This is a list of research projects that may have opportunities for undergraduate students. You can browse all the projects, or view only projects in the following categories:



A miniaturized condenser for collecting exhaled breath condensates

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Electronics, Innovative Technology/Design, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
Professor: Jacqueline Linnes
Preferred major(s): electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering
Desired experience:   Helpful coursework: circuit analysis and design, control/feedback systems, Skills: Demonstrated ability to work independently and creative and resourceful thinking. Experience tinkering and rapid prototyping with microcontrollers is favored.
Number of positions: 1

We are utilizing low-cost rapid diagnostics to develop portable, non-invasive, glucose sensing and monitoring devices for diabetic patients. Currently, we are measuring glucose concentrations from exhaled breath condensates (EBC) which has historically required breathing into a device cooled by ice to condense moisture. Students on this project are expected to perform mentored independent research to develop an electrically cooled, portable, miniaturized condenser that can collect 10 µl of EBC within 30 seconds and selectively condenses only breath containing carbon dioxide/glucose while quantifying the total volume of air exhaled. You will gain hands on experience in instrumentation development, bioassays, and control systems.


Experimental testing and validation of P-band bistatic remote sensing of soil moisture

Research categories:  Agricultural, Aerospace Engineering, Electronics, Environmental Science, Physical Science
School/Dept.: AAE
Professor: James Garrison
Preferred major(s): Electrical engineering, physics, aerospace engineering
Desired experience:   Basic signal processing, linear systems. Experience in working with electronic equipment and computer programming. Some knowledge of statistics helpful.
Number of positions: 1

This activity is part of a larger research project, funded under the NASA Instrument Incubator Program, to develop and test a prototype for a new instrument for the remote sensing of sub-surface, or “root-zone” soil moisture. This is an important quantity to measure for our understanding of the water cycle and for practical applications in agricultural forecasting. The innovative technology in this instrument, is the use of “signals of opportunity” (SoOp’s), which are reflections of communication satellite transmissions. In contrast to active radar remote sensing, a SoOp instrument will be much smaller and lower power, as it does not need an transmitter. SoOp also allows measurements to be made in frequency bands that are not protected for scientific use, essentially making the entire microwave spectrum available for remote sensing.

In this particular application, we will use communication signals in P-band (230-270 MHz), which can penetrate the soil to several decimeters. For comparison, satellite instruments today operate in L-band which has a penetration depth of ~5 cm.

On this project, a SURF student would learn the fundamental physical models, apply them in simulations, to predict the sensitivity of the P-band reflectivity to soil moisture variation and instrument calibration. The student would also assist in assembling instrumentation for ground experimentation, processing the data and interpreting the results.

Students should have some experience with electronic equipment and computer programming, and know basic signal processing and linear systems. An interest in Earth and environmental sciences is desirable.


Hotspot imaging analysis for experimental cancer

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Computational/Mathematical, Electronics, Life Science, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
Professor: Young Kim
Preferred major(s): BME, ECE, ME, Physics
Desired experience:   Imaging analysis, hardware interfacing, optical bench work, optical imaging
Number of positions: 1

Our group has recently developed an optical microvascular imaging platform to predict tumor formation in skin cancer. The primary goal of this project is to examine cancer prevention effects of skin resurfacing on experimental skin cancer, by comparing microvascular imaging with aminolevulinic acid-induced fluorescence imaging in animal models. While fractional ablative lasers are extensively used for cosmetic/aesthetic purposes, we will utilize this light-based treatment modality to prevent against neoplastic formation, because stromal alterations during early carcinogenesis serve as fertile tissue environments for subsequent tumor development. In preliminary data in mice, focal areas of persistent inflammatory angiogenesis are highly reliable predictors of future tumor development. To accurately determine cancer prevention effects, we will combine the two imaging modalities in small animal settings and visualize alterations in the spatial extents of detailed microvascularity. During this research, students will be able to get familiarized with 1) biophotonics technologies, 2) imaging processing, 3) basic cancer biology. This study could have a translational commercial impact, as this non-invasive instrument could be used clinically to assess an individual's risk of future tumor formation and to provide an early assessment of the effectiveness of current and emerging therapeutic and preventive treatment strategies.


Nano-Piezotronics for Smarter Electronics

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Electronics, Industrial Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Industrial Engineering
Professor: Wenzhuo Wu
Preferred major(s): Mechanical, Electrical, Materials, Biomedical, Industrial Engineering
Number of positions: 1

The seamless and adaptive interactions between electronics and their environment (e.g. the human body) are crucial for advancing emerging technologies e.g. wearable devices, implantable sensors, and novel surgical tools. Non-electrical stimuli, e.g. mechanical agitations, are ubiquitous and abundant in these applications for interacting with the electronics. Current scheme of operation not only requires complex integration of heterogeneous components, but also lacks direct interfacing between electronics and mechanical actuations.

Piezotronics is an emerging field in nanomaterials research and offers novel means of manipulating electronic processes via dynamically tunable strain. In this research, the SURF students will develop flexible and transparent piezotronic nanowires transistors for active and adaptive bio-electronics sensing and interfacing. The device is capable of self-powered active sensing by converting mechanical stimulations into electrical controlling signals without applied bias, which emulates the physiological operations of mechanoreceptors in biological entities, e.g. hair cells in the cochlea.

This project is scientifically novel with transformative impact because it not only dramatically advances fundamental understanding of the emerging research in piezotronics, but also enables new opportunities in designing “smarter” electronics that are capable of interacting with the environment seamlessly and adaptively, which is not available in existing technologies, for societally pervasive applications in intelligent wearable devices, surgical tools and bio-probes. The SURF student will work with two PhD students on the nanomaterials synthesis, nanodevices fabrication and measurement. For more information, please visit our lab, the Nanosystems and Nanomanufacturing Lab or feel free to contact me. Contact information appears in the website.


NeuroPhotonics: High speed calcium imaging of dendritic spine in behaving mouse brain

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Electronics, Innovative Technology/Design, Life Science, Physical Science
School/Dept.: ECE
Professor: Meng Cui
Preferred major(s): ECE, Physics
Desired experience:   Labview and FPGA programming
Number of positions: 1

There is a ongoing project in our lab to develop an ultrahigh speed imaging system to perform large scale high resolution imaging of dendritic spines of neurons in behaving mouse brain. This development is crucial to push the envelope of neuroscience research.

Students with engineering or physics background are needed. In particular, skills in labview and FPGA programming will be very helpful to this project.


Opioid monitoring and anti-overdose drug delivery device

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Electronics, Innovative Technology/Design, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: BME
Professor: Hugh Lee
Preferred major(s): BME/ECE
Desired experience:   Circuit design, CAD, machining
Number of positions: 1

Prescription-drug addiction is a nationwide epidemic that requires better understanding of drug usage to prevent opioid-related mortality due to accidental overdose. The selected student will work independently or with a graduate student to create a wearable and implantable device to continuously monitor levels of opioid metabolites in the body and to mitigate overdose related fatalities with a drug delivery vehicle.

More information:


Soft Sensors for State Estimation of Robotic Manipulators

Research categories:  Electronics, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Rebecca Kramer
Preferred major(s): ME, EE, MSE
Number of positions: 1

Soft robotics is a research field focused on developing non-traditional robotic systems using materials that are flexible and stretchable. In contrast, many traditional robots are composed of rigid linkages that are controlled to move discrete distances and angles. Because of the of the flexible materials comprising soft robots, they are capable of creating and/or surviving deformations that are many times larger than those found in rigid systems. As a result, the actuation, sensing and control needs differ greatly for soft robotic systems when compared to the traditional robotic systems.

For this project, a 1 degree-of-freedom pneumatic arm will be instrumented with a network of strain gauges. The arm will be actuated using pneumatics. State estimation and thus, control, of the arm will be accomplished by instrumenting the surface of the arm with a network of sensors composed of highly stretchable elastomer strain gauges. This project will require the design, manufacture and integration of sensors onto the pneumatic arm. The effect of different types and magnitudes of loading on the sensor output will be studied and used to iterate the design of the sensor network.


Stretchable Electronics Enabled by Nanomaterials

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Electronics, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology
School/Dept.: Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering
Professor: Chi Hwan Lee
Preferred major(s): Biomedical, Mechanical, Electrical, Materials Engineering
Desired experience:   It would be great if you have cleanroom experiences or other device fabrications, but they are not required.
Number of positions: 2

In this research, we are exploring novel nanomaterials as a building block for stretchable electronics for application of skin-like wearable biomedical devices. The scope of project spans on synthesis, manipulation and large-scale integrations of the nanomaterials into fully functional devices, and their device applications. Two graduate students in the lab will assist throughout. For more information, please visit our lab, Soft BioNanoTronics Lab or feel free to contact me. Contact information appears in the website.


Ultra-Flexible Triboelectric Nanogenerators for Self-Powered Wearable Sensors

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Electronics, Industrial Engineering, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Industrial Engineering
Professor: Wenzhuo Wu
Preferred major(s): Biomedical, Mechanical, Electrical, Materials, Industrial Engineering
Number of positions: 1

Triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) has emerged as a promising technology for efficiently harvesting mechanical energy due to high conversion efficiency, low fabrication cost, and broad choice of materials. TENGs utilize contact electrification to generate surface charges and convert mechanical energy into electricity from contact and separation between triboelectric layers. Apart from material selection and device structure, one crucial factor affecting the performance of contact electrification process is materials properties and topography of triboelectric contact surfaces. In this project, we will manufacture large scale TENG with modifiable properties at high production rate. These flexible TENGs will be used to harvest mechanical energy from human body, e.g. muscle stretching/motion, and from ambient environment, e.g. wind, raindrops. The converted electricity can be utilized to power small electronic devices, e.g. sensors and processers. The TENGs can also function as self-powered wearable sensors to quantitatively track human motion and monitor posture. The student will work with our PhD students on the nanomaterials synthesis, nanodevices fabrication and measurement.

For more information, please visit our lab, the Nanosystems and Nanomanufacturing Lab or feel free to contact me. Contact information appears in the website.


nanoHUB Research in Nanoscale Science and Engineering

Research categories:  Computational/Mathematical, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Electronics, Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology, Other
Professor: NCN Faculty
Preferred major(s): Electrical, Computer, Materials, or Mechanical Engineering; Physics; Computer Science
Desired experience:   Serious interest in and enjoyment of programming; programming skills in any language, physics coursework.
Number of positions: 15-20

Advances in nanoscale science and engineering promise to provide solutions to some of the Engineering Grand Challenges of the 21st century. The Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN) has several undergraduate research positions available in exciting interdisciplinary research projects that use computational simulations to solve engineering problems in areas such as nanoelectronics, predictive materials simulations, materials characterization, nanophotonics, and the mechanical behavior of materials. The projects cover a wide range of applications, including development of systems with increased efficiencies for energy storage or energy conversion, development of next-generation electronic devices, improved manufacturing processes for pharmaceuticals and other materials, and the prediction and design of new materials with specific properties. Descriptions of the available research projects, requirements, and faculty advisors are posted on the website provided under 'More Information' below.

We are looking for students with a strong background in engineering or physics who can also code in at least one language, such as C or MATLAB. Selected students will work with a graduate student mentor and faculty advisor to create or improve a simulation tool that will be deployed on

nanoHUB is arguably the world’s largest nanoscale science and engineering user facility, with over 300,000 annual users. nanoHUB’s simulation tools run in a scientific computing cloud via a web browser, and are used by researchers and educators world wide. As part of our team, you will be engaged in a National Science Foundation-funded effort that is connecting theory, experiment and computation in a way that makes a difference for the future of nanotechnology and the future of scientific communities. At the end of the summer, successful students will publish a simulation tool on nanoHUB, where it can impact thousands of nanoHUB users.

In addition to the regular SURF workshops and seminars, NCN provides some additional activities and training for our cohort of summer students. More information, including examples of previous student projects, is available on the NCN SURF page:

In your SURF application, be sure to list the specific NCN project that you are interested in, along with your qualifications for that project. Students are matched to NCN projects based on their interests, qualifications, and available openings on projects.