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:

Life Science


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.


Microbes in the Air: Dynamics of Airborne Bacteria, Fungi & Pollen in a Living Laboratory

Research categories:  Agricultural, Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Civil and Construction, Environmental Science, Life Science, Mechanical Systems, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Civil Engineering
Professor: Brandon Boor
Preferred major(s): I am recruiting students from all engineering and science majors
Desired experience:   Some experience with MATLAB and programming is preferred.
Number of positions: 1

Our homes and offices are home to trillions of microorganisms, including diverse communities of bacteria and fungi. My research group explores the dynamics of airborne microorganisms, or bioaerosols, in buildings. These are incredibly small airborne particles, less than 10 micrometers in size - one-tenth the thickness of your hair! Bioaerosols can be released from our bodies, stirred-up from house dust, and can flow into buildings from the outside via ventilation. By developing a deeper understanding of the emissions, transport, and control of bioaerosols, we can work towards buildings that promote healthy microbial communities.

In this project, you will use our state-of-the-art research facilities to measure, in real-time, concentrations of bioaerosols in a living laboratory (occupied office) at Herrick Laboratories in Discovery Park. You will learn how to develop an experimental plan, conduct air quality measurements, and analyze bioaerosol data. Most importantly, the data you collect will help us learn how people, and the buildings in which we live, influence the behavior of these tiny airborne particles. The project is very well-suited for anyone interested in microbiology, air quality, human health, HVAC systems, or atmospheric science.

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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.


Polymeric Microparticles for Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Life Science, Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology
School/Dept.: Science - Chemistry; Engineering - BME
Professor: David H Thompson
Preferred major(s): biomedical engineering, chemistry, biological sciences
Number of positions: 2

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a class of disorders affecting an estimated 1.3 million Americans including at least 50,000 children. While current therapies for IBD are effective, they are often expensive, challenging to dose, and come with severe potential side effects. The aim of this project is to develop polymeric microparticles to carry drugs in a targeted and sustained fashion to diseased intestines of patients with IBD. Students working on this project will learn the fundamentals of fabricating polymeric particles of a target size, morphology, and drug loading. In addition to learning how to measure drug release rates, students will learn cell culture techniques and use those skills to perform cellular responses to the drug-loaded microparticles. Students with an interest in biomaterials, drug delivery, biomedical engineering, medicine or chemistry should apply. Those with prior research experience are preferred, but first time researchers are also encouraged to apply.

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