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:



3D Tissue Bioprinting

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical
School/Dept.: BME
Professor: Sherry Harbin
Preferred major(s): Biomedical Engineering
Desired experience:   Cell culture, device design, general wet laboratory skills
Number of positions: 1

Our long-term goal is to advance 3D bioprinting as a modernized manufacturing method for creation of functional human tissues that are tailorable for individual patient needs and effectively integrate and adapt with the patient. 3D bioprinting represents an early-stage fabrication technology with significant potential to advance the design and construction of complex and scalable living tissues and organs, for both research and clinical applications. However, a number of persistent technical hurdles preclude this technology from reaching its full impact, including biomaterial selection, precision-controlled spatial distribution (i.e., gradients) of cells and materials, and vascularization. Collectively, our published and preliminary results show the utility and versatility of our multi-scale tissue design strategy and significance of replicating developmental cell-cell and cell-matrix signaling for guiding tissue morphogenesis and vascularization. We will now expand this work by testing our central hypothesis that specified cell population positioning and gradients in matrix mechanophysical properties, as fabricated using 3D bioprinting, represent critical tissue engineering design requirements for improved in-vitro tissue morphogenesis and in-vivo tissue regeneration. The student will join a multidisciplinary collaborative team of graduate students and faculty working on this project. The student will have the opportunity to learn 3D cell culture as well as methods for quantitative/qualitative tissue physiology and function analysis.


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.


Center for Materials Under Extreme Environment (CMUXE) - Undergraduate research opportunities

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Computational/Mathematical, Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology, Physical Science
School/Dept.: Nuclear Engineering
Professor: Ahmed Hassanein
Desired experience:   Minimum GPA 3.5
Number of positions: 3-5

The Center for Materials Under Extreme Environment (CMUXE) is looking for undergraduate research students for the following areas:

1. Ion beams and plasma interaction with materials for various applications
2. Magnetic and Inertial Nuclear Fusion
3. Laser-produced plasma (LPP) and Discharge-produced plasma (DPP)
4. Nanostructuring of material by ion and laser beams
5. High energy density physics applications
6. Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS)
7. Plasma for biomedical applications
8. Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography
9. Computational physics for nuclear fusion, lithography, and other applications

Research of undergraduate students at CMUXE during previous SURF programs has resulted in students acquiring new knowledge in different areas and led to several joint publications, participation in national and international conferences, seminars, and provided experience in collaborative international research.

Several undergraduate and graduate students working in CMUXE have won national and international awards and have presented their work in several countries including Australia, China, Germany, Ireland, Japan, and Russia.

Position is open to undergraduates in all engineering and science disciplines. High level commitment and participation in group meetings are compulsory. Interested candidates are encouraged to visit the center website below for further information.


Development of Theranostic Drug Delivery Systems for Cancer Treatment

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Material Science and Engineering, Nanotechnology
School/Dept.: Industrial & Physical Pharmacy
Professor: Tonglei Li
Preferred major(s): chemistry, chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, biological engineering
Number of positions: 1

Drug delivery for cancer therapy is far from being satisfactory. A significant portion of potential drug compounds fail to enter the clinic because they cannot be formulated and delivered by existing approaches. Many clinically used formulations are poorly designed, bearing significant adverse effects and limiting treatment efficacy. Over the last few years, nanotechnology has been embraced for developing novel drug delivery systems to combat diseases such as cancer and infection. In our laboratory, we have been developing multicomponent nanocrystals to deliver cytotoxic agents along with bioimaging probes to treat and detect tumors. In this project, the delivery system will be fully tested in vitro and in vivo in order to understand the pharmacokinetic and biodistribution properties and to further improve the formulation design. In particular, the student will be learning and conducting cellular uptake experiment and help graduate students in their animal studies. It is expected that the student will gain a basic understanding of drug delivery for cancer and comprehend the current challenges in cancer therapy. The student will also learn the underlying design principles of our delivery system and, hopefully, provide meaningful suggestions for improvement.


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.

More information:


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 programing
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 programing 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:


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.

More information:


Stimuli responsive fluidics controls on a paper-based bacterial detection platform

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Chemical, Innovative Technology/Design, Material Science and Engineering, Mechanical Systems
School/Dept.: Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering
Professor: Jacqueline Linnes
Preferred major(s): chemical, biomedical, materials, or mechanical engineering
Desired experience:   Helpful coursework: polymers, thermodynamics, organic chemistry Skills: Demonstrated ability to work independently and creative and resourceful thinking. Experience tinkering and rapid prototyping is favored.
Number of positions: 1

The Linnes Lab aims to develop a rapid, paper-based point-of-care diagnostics to enable timely and appropriate treatment of infectious diseases ranging from cholera to sepsis. To automate the multistep detection assays on these tests, we are integrating stimuli responsive polymers (e.g. wax) to control the flow of sample and assay reagents. We seek a motivated student to optimize the composition and high-throughput deposition of candidate polymers. You will gain technical experience in fluidics and bioassays through this cross-institutional project with collaborators in the mechanical engineering department and clinical partners in Eldoret, Kenya.


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.


Ultrasounded guided nanobubbles

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Nanotechnology
School/Dept.: ABE
Professor: Joseph Irudayaraj
Preferred major(s): Biological/Biomedical/Chemical Engineering, Biochemistry
Desired experience:   Exposure to biology, some research experience, very high motivation
Number of positions: 1

The purpose of the project is to influence current drug delivery methods and techniques, which allows a step forward to precise drug delivery and more effective therapies. The specific drug delivery system that the lab will be working with is cellulosic polymer nanobubbles. These nanobubbles can be guided using ultrasound to precisely deliver cargo to the desired location inside the tumor. Tests will be conducted to analyze the effectiveness of the delivery of the anticancer drug to tumor infested organs of mice.


Wearable Sensors for Improving Health Care Delivery

Research categories:  Bioscience/Biomedical, Industrial Engineering, Innovative Technology/Design
School/Dept.: Industrial Engineering
Professor: Denny Yu
Preferred major(s): Industrial Engineering, Biomedical Engineering
Desired experience:   Strong interest in human factors and healthcare. Experienced with Matlab. Comfortable with conducting field and laboratory-based studies.
Number of positions: 1

Healthcare is provided in a dynamic environment with complex human interactions. Excessive team and individual workload impact both patient and care provider safety, but quantifying workload in these environments remains elusive. Student selected for this project will conduct cutting-edge and applied research related to smart wearables for reducing provider workload and sensor-based quantification of human dynamics with the goal of informing interventions to enable the highest levels of health care delivery.