Page 1





Guide for applying to medical school this coming year

Dr. Ackerman on the progress of innovation in biotechnology

How to utilize the benefits of rapid prototyping with 3D printing


New Master’s Program Master of Biomedical Innovation and Development by Christine Hang—Undergraduate Student in the Coulter Department

Proposed by Dr. Franklin Bost, the program plans to educate graduates on innovation and commercialization of new technologies. (Photo: Arthur Lo)

ESTABLISHING THE MASTER OF BIOMEDICAL INNOVATION AND DEVELOPMENT (BioID) program is one of the top priorities of the Wallace H. Coulter Department at Georgia Tech and Emory University. Proposed by Dr. Franklin Bost, Professor of the Practice, the program plans to educate graduates on innovation in “translational” research (i.e. techniques and products for patient care) and commercialization of new technologies. The program targets multiple undergraduate disciplines in order to teach students necessary career skills and knowledge; for example, FDA and ISO regulatory requirements, medical markets and clinical specialties, clinical practice and protocols, teamwork effectiveness, and professional communication skills. With classes taught by multidisciplinary GT professors and industry/professional instructors, the students would receive information necessary for the medical industry and business aspects. The primary goal of BioID is to provide students the tools to heavily contribute to patient care and economic development via innovative products and services for healthcare delivery. Continued on page 14

The InVenture Concludes The 2012 InVenture Prize Finals by Belane Gizaw—Undergraduate Student in the Coulter Department ON THE EVENING OF MARCH 13, 2012, some of the most brilliant minds at the Georgia Institute of Technology gathered at the Ferst Center of the Arts to present their products. The hours of hard work and struggle led six teams to the final round in front of three judges, an in-house audience, and a live television broadcast by Georgia Public Broadcasting. With the host, David Pogue, keeping the evening light with laughter, two teams with Biomedical Engineering students, CardiacTech and Re-Hand, sauntered onto the stage and awed the crowd with their visionary ideas. The team of CardiacTech—Matthew Lee and Priya Patil, two Biomedical Engineering (BME) students, along with Josh DeVane, Benji Hoover, and Kevin Parsons, Mechanical Engineering (ME) students—redesigned the chest retractor used during bypass surgery. The project began in the Continued on page 5

Team Re-Hand Wins the 2012 InVenture Prize with the Software Assisted Rehabilitation Device. (Photo: Alex Shao )

From the Editor in Chief Welcome to the final issue of Pioneer for the 2011 to 2012 academic  year. As the semester nears to an end, members of the Georgia Tech  biotechnology community have much to look forward to, whether it is  the establishment of a new business oriented Masters program for the  Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, or the  plethora of post gradua on opportuni es.     In this semester alone, Pioneer has experienced a great deal of  changes, from a complete renova on in our layout to internal growth of  our staff. With this in mind, I would like to thank all of the new senior  staff members for the tremendous effort they have put into running and  improving this newsle er. I would also like to thank all of the current  staff members for the amount of work they have contributed. Last but  certainly not least, I would like to thank the biotechnology community  for the con nuous support they have provided to make the Pioneer the  informa ve newsle er that it is.    The staff of Pioneer would like to wish all of you good luck with the  rest of the semester, and we look forward to bringing forth more news  in our upcoming summer issue.    Best regards,  Virginia Lin 


BBUGS……………………………………………………….………….………………..…...3 Bioengineering and Bioscience Unified Graduate Students

PREHEALTH COLUMN….……….…………………………………………………...4 Applying to Health Profession Schools

SPRING 2012 GRADUATES…………………………………..…………….……...5 RECENT PUBLICATIONS………………………...……………..…………….. .....6 HOW TO USE A WHITEBOARD…………………………………..……………..7 The Essential Learning Tool

ALUMNI PATHWAYS……………...………………….………………………….…….8 DR. JEREMY ACKERMAN…………………………..……………..…………..….10 Clinician, Engineer, Teacher

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT……………………………………………………….……..11 Aswin Natarajan

WHAT IS CONSULTING?……………………………………………………..…. ..12 A Growing Demand in the Healthcare Industry

CLINICALS……………………………………………………………………………………....13 The Translation of Studies to Real World Solutions

GRADUATE STUDENT SPOTLIGHT……………………………………..…..15 Alice Cheng

DESIGN TOOLBOX……………………………………..…….……….……..…...…16 3D Printing


Pioneer Established 2007 


Timothy Lin Saranya Karthikeyan Guergana Terzieva Jaemin Sung

WEBMASTERS Felis (Doyeon) Koo Sara Khalek Jaheda Khanam Karan Suraj STAFF WRITERS Subhendu De Rachel Stewart Amrita Banerjee Belane Gizaw Sarah Gonzales Christine Hang Yeonghoon Joung Arun Kumar Nithya Paranthaman Asra Rehan Hifza Sakhi Harish Srinimukesh Jaemin Sung Guergana Terzieva Steven Touchton Jr Prateek Neil Viswanathan Iva Zivojinovic EDITORS Harish Srinimukesh Nida Dharani Jackson Hair Caroline Massaro Ayesha Patel Elina Sarmah Kristen Weirich LAYOUT EDITORS Kevin Lam Marisa Casola Kelli Koenig Candace Law Summer Lee Sam Lim Xurong Liu Alexandra Low Eesha Mathur PHOTOGRAPHERS William Sessions Sheridan Carroll Jacob Khouri Arthur Lo Rachel Moore Alex Shao Fred Woo  COLLABORATORS  Karen Adams Paul Fincannon Sally Gerrish Marty C. Jacobson Jennifer Kimble Megan McDevitt Mark P. McJunkin Colleen Mitchell Adrianne Proeller Shannon Sullivan

BBUGS Bioengineering and Bioscience UniďŹ ed Graduate Students by Nithya Paranthaman—Undergraduate Student in the Coulter Department

Inthu and Stacie are chairs of BBUGS that serves as a platform for graduate and undergrad interaction. (Photo: Sheridan Carroll)

THE BIOENGINEERING AND BIOSCIENCE Unified Graduate Students (BBUGS) association is one of the fastest growing graduate student organizations at Georgia Tech. Comprised of over five hundred members, BBUGS brings together students from different departments with one common interest: Biology. With an interdisciplinary approach to the subject, the organization focuses on bringing awareness to graduate students on the current advancements in bio-research and forthcoming issues that may arise due to progressing circumstances. Seminars encourage friendly ethical debates and discussions involving diverse areas of bio-research, while teaching the basics of networking, forming associations, and planning a future after graduate school. BBUGS also offers a very unique outreach opportunity, mainly targeting K -12 students. Members can sign up to volunteer at neighboring high schools or to judge elementary school science competitions. These events allow graduate students to spend a few hours away from the lab to help the local community. Also, every year, BBUGS

hosts Buzz on Biotechnology. This is an opportunity for high school students, teachers, and their families to visit Georgia Tech for bioscience demonstrations, biotechnology research information sessions, and various research lab tours. Another prominent BBUGS event is the Technique Symposium. A three-day event held during the summer, the Technique Symposium showcases seminars, demonstrations, and workshops on different experimental and engineering methods, such as the proper procedures for histology and the appropriate usage of a flow cytometer. In addition to discussing biotechnology and volunteering, BBUGS provides the potential to hone leadership skills through its six different committees: education, social, research, industry, public policy, and professional development. BBUGS also organizes fun and exciting outings for its members and provides a mentor program for undergraduates, all with free membership. To join, students may signup via e-mail to experience the opportunities made available through BBUGS.


Prehealth Column Applying to Health Profession Schools by Jennifer Kimble—Georgia Tech Pre-Health Advisor Applying to Health Profession Schools During this time of the semester, I have a number of applicants who want me to talk in detail about the application process for the 2013 entry cycle for professional schools. Here are a few items to remember. Rolling Admissions If you have been around me longer than seven minutes, you have heard me preach about rolling admissions. This means you need to get started on the application process early. Do not apply at the end of the admissions cycle and expect it to work out well for you! Where to Apply I would love it if I had a crystal ball on my desk to tell us the school to which you will be accepted and for which you will be a good fit. Remember that every professional school will teach you the same information; anatomy at Harvard is the same as anatomy at Morehouse. Are you interested in clinical research? A Joint degree? Low income clinics? International experiences? These are all considerations in the school selection process. I recommend attending all school visits to learn about the nuances in their programs. Plan on Taking the Entrance Test Before we launch into specific tests, I must advise you to use your legal name e x a ct l y a s i t a p p e a rs o n t h e identification that you will show on test day. In addition, please register early for the test. Too often, I have students who have to go out of town to take the test, because all the seats in Atlanta are filled. Pre-medical and pre-podiatry students take the MCAT ( It is offered several times per year. Please plan to take the MCATs only once, since medical schools can see every attempt you made on the test. Schools do not take the highest score from each section for multiple attempts. Remember that the MCAT is normed so it can be a reliable and valid test. If you could drastically alter your score without changing your educational background, medical schools would not have much faith in the test. The AAMC has a good website with charts and data about retaking the test:


students/applying/mcat/ admissionsadvisors/mcat_stats I recommend that my students view the MCAT as another class in their schedule. Students will often ask what the best MCAT prep company is, but that is a decision only you can make. Kaplan, Examkrackers, and The Princeton Review routinely visit Tech to talk about their MCAT prep services, but be prepared to spend $2000 on any of them. Whatever company you choose and even if you elect not to use one, I recommend taking several diagnostic exams and use them to show what deficiencies you have in your educational background. has several diagnostics you can purchase. These are actually “retired” MCATs, so you should simulate testing conditions as much as possible when taking them. You need to decide when you want to take the entrance test for your health profession program. Ideally, you will take the test in the late spring or early summer of the calendar year before you want to start professional school. Be smart about your timing! If you feel like you will not achieve your full potential if you take the test too early, then take the MCATs later. I urge you to still submit your AMCAS or AACOMAS application without your test score. Just remember that your file isn’t complete (or viewed for an interview) until the MCAT scores are available. Pre-pharmacy students will need to take the PCAT ( Although you do not want to take the PCAT too many times, many schools view multiple attempts without a problem. Pre-dental students need to take the DAT (; like the MCAT, it is not advisable to have multiple attempts on this exam. For pre -optometry students, the OAT ( is your exam. If you are pre-physician assistant, you’ll take the GRE ( February: Letters of Evaluation I cannot tell you how many great students I have had over the years who waited too long to obtain their letters of evaluation (LOEs) – a key part of applications. Because of their procrastination, their files were incomplete at the schools to which they

applied. Your file should be complete in my office by the end of the spring semester. If you haven’t created your “Pre-Health Profile”, please do so at The forms you’ll need to give your evaluators can be found at content/apply. In April, there will be a LOE portion of the Pre-Health Profile, so you can track the LOEs that came in for you. March: Personal Statements A key part of the admissions process is having a compelling personal statement. Why do you want to be a doctor/ pharmacist/optometrist/etc? It needs to be more passionate than “I like science and want to make the world a better place for all mankind.” Attend a workshop to learn about putting your passion on paper before approaching me to have your statement critiqued. I’ll hold workshops throughout the month and also recommend that you work with the Communication Center April: Application Workshops AMCAS, AACOMAS, AADSAS, PharmCAS, etc . Overwhelmed? Many students are by the central applications. Come to the a p p r o pr ia te w o rk s ho p f o r yo u r professional goal to learn how to apply! Summer: Apply The summer should be spent submitting a central application, crafting supplementals, and sending letters of evaluation. You will also want to be critical in reviewing your application to see what you should do in the upcoming year to make a stronger application in case you need to reapply. Fall: Interviewing Throughout August and September, I will host interview workshops. You must attend one of these in order to do a mock interview. Interview season for schools go from August until April, except for dental, which ends earlier. The earlier you have your file complete, the better chance you will have of making it to an interview. Remember, I’m here to help. Best wishes for a successful application cycle!

main hurdles during the process was integrating the group of BME and ME students and figuring out our strengths and weaknesses and how we could best work together,” says Priya Patil. The team clearly worked through any problems they encountered since their ingenious innovation won CardiacTech the People’s Choice Award and a $5,000 cash prize. After achieving their goal, Priya stated that “the next step will be to get our product on the market and go through FDA approval.” CardiacTech is not the only team that will be marketing their product. The first place award went to team Re-Hand—Alkindi Kibria, Elizabeth LeMar, Kunal MacDonald, and Daphne Vincent, all BME students—for their software assisted home-use hand assessment and rehabilitation device. They also began their journey in Senior Design and worked on their project for over a year with Dr. Randy Trumbower of the Center of Rehabilitation and Medicine at Emory University. Re-Hand is a hand rehabilitation device which works to gain back strength, dexterity,

Continued from page 1

InVenture Finals BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING SENIOR DESIGN course when the head of Cardiac Thorax Surgery at Emory Hospital approached Dr. Franklin Bost of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering with the initial problem. During cardiac surgery, the chest retractor opens the chest, but the blood flow is not controlled and thus obstructs the surgeon’s view of the heart. In addition, the surgeons have to replace all the blood loss with blood transfusions, but this increases a patient’s risk of post-operative complications. To target this issue, CardiacTech redesigned the blade of the chest retractor so that it will cover the entire exposed bone to reduce bleeding. Another issue addressed was that the chest retractor opened the rib cage parallel which would lead to rib fractures and so the team redesigned the retractor to open at an angle to prevent any rib fracture. “One of our

Spring 2012 Graduates*

and coordination in the hands and fingers. The handle allows for individual finger movement and the base allows for wrist movement. All the data can be tracked, graphed, stored, and sent directly to clinicians so that they can provide individual feedback to their patients. This sophisticated device proved difficult though; “As a BME student you learn many different topics: from electrical engineering to mechanical engineering and some computer programming, you must be able to combine them together into a working device,” stated Elizabeth LeMar. After winning the Grand Prize of $15,000, LeMar stated that the next step was “to get a patent and admittance into FlashPoint where they will fund [the team’s] entrepreneurship and hope to keep making products.” From their experiences with InVenture, the two teams display that dedication to an idea and passion for one’s goals lead to, not only rewards at the end, but a rewarding experience along the way.

(check our next issue for the full list of graduating graduate students)

As May approaches, the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Emory University and Georgia Tech is preparing to release another group of undergraduates into the world to begin the rest of their lives. Pioneer wants to congratulate these Spring 2012 graduates and wish them the best in all their future endeavors! Benjamin Sandhya Danat Sean Ankit Zachary Sam Avinash Elizabeth Laura Justin Christopher Hieu Olivia Morgan Ariane Julia Benjamin Alex Ningtao Nina Benjamin Taedo James Alexander John Jacob

Adams Anantharaman Asfaw Bandzar Baraskar Barry Bennett Bheodari Bosworth Bracaglia Bree Brooks Bui Burnsed Byrd Callender Champion Chan Chau Cheng Chheda Chism Choi Cika Cooper Corbett Crabtree

Corey Michael Michelle Mihir George Brent John Theodore Kevin Siddharth Zachary Gaurav Shabnam Shawna Nadia Kanav David Myong Tae Wan Wooseok Challis Devon Arina Gregory Robert Daniel

Culver Daugherty Deem Desai Evagoras Foster Foust French Frerking Gadepalli Gassman Gupta Gupta Hagen Hussein Jain Jilk Kim Kim Kim King King Korneva Kowalski Lamell Lee

Christopher Jenny Shalv Sheena Courtney Michael Nitish Rohan Debika Aaron Rita Gargi Lee Willa Alexandr Kyle Gopi Karan Ravi Jerd Sarah Vineeth Sam Lintu Taylor Jerica

Lim Lin Madhani Mah McCormick McKinnon Meka Menon Mitra Morris Mucavele Mukherjee Neuman Ni Nizkorodov Pate Patel Patel Patel Phichitkul Phillips Raghuram Raji Ramachandran Rasco Richardson

Kelsie William Michelle Jessica Justin Arsalan Rabbia Jeffrey Jeremy Rosemary Prahlad Krista Amanda Carson Christian Erika Blake Daryll Neil Jill Christine Lance Sunil Chun Jesse Xuan

Riemenschneider Rodgers Rost Rowe Rowland Sabooree Saeed Shen Sheppard Song Srinivasan Staskevicius Sullivan Swanson Tan Tyburski Vander Wood Vanover Vengsarkar Walthall Wasilewski Whatley Yalamanchili Yong Yoo Zhang

OUTSTANDING ACADEMIC AWARD: Bilal Bari This award recognizes the student who, in course work, displays an eagerness to pursue knowledge and understanding while holding to high academic standards.

OUTSTANDING RESEARCH AWARD: Chun Yong This award recognizes a graduating senior who has shown outstanding research skills.

OUTSTANDING LEADERSHIP AWARD: Kanav Jain This award goes to a student who not only contributes and leads within class projects, but shows genuine efforts in leadership through community service and campus involvement.

OUTSTANDING SENIOR AWARD: Willa Ni This award goes to a student who exemplifies the epitome of excellence. The deserving student should not only excel in academics, leadership, and research, but also show a genuine interest in improving the BME community.


Recent Publications



Article Title


Advanced Materials

Theory of Piezo-Phototronics for Light-Emitting Diodes

Zhang Y, Wang ZL.

Advanced Materials

A Hybrid Piezoelectric Structure for Wearable Nanogenerators

Lee M, Chen CY, Wang S, Cha SN, Park YJ, Kim JM, Chou LJ, Wang ZL.

Advanced Materials

Progress in Piezotronics and Piezo-Phototronics

Wang ZL.

Advanced Materials

Self-powered nanosensors and nanosystems

Wang ZL.

Advanced Materials

Nanowire Piezo-phototronic Photodetector: Theory and Experimental Design

Liu Y, Yang Q, Zhang Y, Yang Z, Wang ZL.

Annals of Biomedical Engineering

Algorithm to Assess Cranial Suture Fusion with Varying and Discontinuous Mineral Density

Hermann CD, Richards MA, OlivaresNavarrete R, Williams JK, Guldberg RE, Skrinjar O, Schwartz Z, Boyan BD.

Annals of Biomedical Engineering

In Vitro Characterization of Bicuspid Aortic Valve Hemodynamics Using Particle Image Velocimetry

Saikrishnan N, Yap CH, Milligan NC, Vasilyev NV, Yoganathan AP.


Stability of influenza vaccine coated onto microneedles

Choi HJ, Yoo DG, Bondy BJ, Quan FS, Compans RW, Kang SM, Prausnitz MR.

Cell and Tissue Research

Endogenous musculoskeletal tissue regeneration

Hutmacher DW, Duda G, Guldberg RE.

Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry

Solid-state selective (13)C excitation and spin diffusion NMR to resolve spatial dimensions in plant cell walls

Foston M, Katahira R, Gjersing E, Davis MF, Ragauskas AJ.

Journal of Neural Engineering

Voltage-sensitive dye imaging reveals improved topographic activation of cortex in response to manipulation of thalamic microstimulation parameters

Wang Q, Millard DC, Zheng HJ, Stanley GB.

Journal of the American Chemical Society

Rectangular Bunched Rutile TiO(2) Nanorod Arrays Grown on Carbon Fiber for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells

Guo W, Xu C, Wang X, Wang S, Pan C, Lin C, Wang ZL.

Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials

Mechanical behavior of a cellulose-reinforced scaffold in vascular tissue engineering

Pooyan P, Tannenbaum R, Garmestani H.

Methods in Enzymology

Probes for intracellular RNA imaging in live cells.

Santangelo PJ, Alonas E, Jung J, Lifland AW, Zurla C.


Block copolymer-based gadolinium nanoparticles as MRI contrast agents with high T(1) relaxivity

Hou S, Tong S, Zhou J, Bao G.


Anchoring Depth Electrodes for Bedside Removal: A 'Break-away' Suturing Technique for Intracranial Monitoring

Gross RE, Rowland NC, Sung EK, Laborde DV, Suleiman SL.

Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics

Application of surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy to the study of SOFC electrode surfaces

Li X, Blinn K, Fang Y, Liu M, Mahmoud MA, Cheng S, Bottomley LA, El-Sayed M, Liu M.

Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics

Facile preparation of nitrogen-doped graphene as a metal-free catalyst for oxygen reduction reaction

Lin Z, Song MK, Ding Y, Liu Y, Liu M, Wong CP.

PLoS One

Differential mechanical response of mesenchymal stem cells and fibroblasts to tumor-secreted soluble factors

McGrail DJ, Ghosh D, Quach ND, Dawson MR.


Impact of declining Arctic sea ice on winter snowfall

Liu J, Curry JA, Wang H, Song M, Horton RM.

Review of Scientific Instruments

Constant tip-surface distance with atomic force microscopy via quality factor feedback

Fan L, Potter D, Sulchek T.

Science and Engineering Ethics

Contentious Problems in Bioscience and Biotechnology: A Pilot Study of an Approach to Ethics Education

Berry RM, Borenstein J, Butera RJ.


Intracellular Protein Delivery and Gene Transfection by Electroporation Using a Microneedle Electrode Array

Choi SO, Kim YC, Lee JW, Park JH, Prausnitz MR, Allen MG.

Technology in Cancer Research and Treatment

Total-variation regularization based inverse planning for intensity modulated arc therapy

Zhu L, Niu T, Choi K, Xing L.

The Analyst

Determination of cellulase colocalization on cellulose fiber with quantitative FRET measured by acceptor photobleaching and spectrally unmixing fluorescence microscopy

Wang L, Wang Y, Ragauskas AJ.

The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery

Experimental and numeric investigation of Impella pumps as cavopulmonary assistance for a failing Fontan

Haggerty CM, Fynn-Thompson F, McElhinney DB, Valente AM, Saikrishnan N, Del Nido PJ, Yoganathan AP.

The Spine Journal

Osteoblasts exhibit a more differentiated phenotype and increased bone morphogenetic protein production on titanium alloy substrates than on poly-ether -ether-ketone

Olivares-Navarrete R, Gittens RA, Schneider JM, Hyzy SL, Haithcock DA, Ullrich PF, Schwartz Z, Boyan BD.

Ultrasound in Medicine and Biology

Can Ultrasound Enable Efficient Intracellular Uptake of Molecules? A Retrospective Literature Review and Analysis

Liu Y, Yan J, Prausnitz MR.

How to Use a Whiteboard The Essential Learning Tool by Subhendu De and Rachel Stewart—Undergraduate Students in the Coulter Department IN TODAY’S LEARNING ENVIRONMENT, high tech solutions fulfill the learning needs of modern engineering students. A new tool has emerged, and it is one that will forever change the learning game. That tool is none other than the whiteboard. Whiteboards can be found everywhere, from the most open community forums to the dark recesses of Whitaker. These wondrous tools are as critical as brains, and possibly even more important than coffee. However, this great power must be handled properly and carefully. There are many species of whiteboards, including large boards affixed to walls, small portable boards, and mobile boards that randomly scatter throughout the CULC. Best yet, the crown jewel of all whiteboards is none other than the Problem Based Learning room. Despite the abundance of whiteboards, there is no harder task than finding an unused whiteboard. Packs of students can be found clamoring around whiteboards, and are most protective of their claimed territory. When venturing to capture a PBL room, be cautious, as hordes of BMED 1300 students seize these rooms quickly. The general rule of thumb for obtaining a white board is “Don’t be shy, look them in the eye.” Be assertive, since one’s needs are far greater than those of other students. After securing a whiteboard, one would need the proper tools to utilize the board to its fullest potential. Any student with the intention of using a whiteboard requires a whiteboard marker. However, working non-dried markers are extremely elusive. There may be markers in other rooms, but it may not be worth trying to wade through the noisy group that may

already be there. In any event, a student must be prepared to accept that the facilities may not readily provide working markers. Any good student should then carry their personal markers at the ready, in the case for immediate survival. Once a whiteboard has been attained with a marker, learning can commence. Whiteboards offer unlimited potential for ideas. The whiteboard is truly the cradle of life in the world of Biomedical Engineering. Organization webs and trees, drawings, diagrams, doodles, and messages to future generations all originate from the whiteboards. However, even the largest of whiteboards are constrained by available space. Relics left behind by prior students must be removed for new ideas to appear. In this event, an eraser is essential. Erasers are as abundant as markers, but may often be defective. To compensate, one could create makeshift erasers by amassing sheets of paper towels from the restroom and wiping the board alternately with a wet and dry towel. On the whole, using a whiteboard is one of life’s greatest joys. Expressing ideas as they stream from the mind is a visceral and primal experience. However, it is a constant struggle to keep the whiteboard, and eventually, it must be abandoned. It is without hesitation that another student will claim it, and all of the contents of the whiteboard will be erased. In order to permanently preserve a whiteboard, take pictures of the board or copy the contents into a notebook. The whiteboard is a powerful tool, but the student must always remember: with great power, comes great responsibility.


Alumni Pathways 1. What kind of work are you currently doing?

Bijal Vashi

Medical School

Andrea Barrett

Graduate School

John Brumfield


Kaitlyn Frazier


by Steven Touchton Jr. — Undergraduate Student in the Coulter Department

2. What undergraduate classes do you find have been most useful to you?

3. Did you do research while at Tech? Do you still find it helps you?

4. What did you do outside of academics at Tech?

Right now we're learning in-depth about various pathologies that affect the human body in addition to perfecting our physical examination skills both in the classroom, in our hospital visits, and in our student-run free clinic. I'm not really sure what specialty I want to dedicate the rest of my life to, but it will most likely be some sort of primary care, and I'm currently leaning towards pediatrics because let's face it, some of us will never grow up on the inside!

I thought that the engineering physiology, cell biology, and problem solving BME classes were the most useful. While the first two seem intuitive choices, learning how to approach a problem (or now in my case a disease state) is unbelievably useful in medicine.

I did research for one summer semester on microtubules and their application as drug delivery molecules. While the topic is not terribly useful to me now, it did teach me to try everything at least once to see if it's the right fit for me or if I need to try something new.

I was a Peer Leader for Freshman Experience for two of my three years at Tech and, in spite of the crazy times that ensued, I would not trade those experiences for anything. I was also a part of an Indian folk dance team, Ramblin' Raas that kept me physically active and lightened my stress-load. During my final year at Tech, I was on the board for India Club at Georgia Tech as a co-Arts and Cultural Chair.

I am in a Computational Biology and Bioinformatics PhD program at Duke University, and my specific focus is cancer genomics. I am working to develop statistical and computational methods for analyzing high-throughput DNA and RNA sequencing data to provide a better understanding of cancer biology and provide more accurate diagnoses and recommended drug treatments.

On an everyday basis I use MatLab and statistics, so those two classes are probably most useful to me. I also took a Genomics elective that is very relevant to my graduate school curriculum. The PBL classes and lab-based classes taught me problem-solving skills and writing skills that are very useful in graduate school.

My research at Georgia Tech was also in bioinformatics, working on cancer gene microarray data and mass spectrometry data. This work is very applicable to what I am doing now in graduate school, and it really formed the basis of my graduate school applications and influenced my choice of graduate school research.

I was a member of the Georgia Tech Symphony Orchestra, Presidents' Council Governing Board, DanceTech, and research.

I work in the sales organization for Saint Jude Medical. My main role is working with cell defibrillators and pace makers. I assist with implantation and all the clinic followups, and I do a lot of work with hospital administration improving the business models and that kind of stuff. I have the clinical side as well as the business side.

Problem Based Learning is very important - you're going to use that in everything you do. I know it's frustrating to take DSP and Thermodynamics, and honestly I have never had to use thermodynamic formulas since I graduated. But because I got through that, when I go into a hospital and speak to a physician and he asks my background, I can say I have a biomedical engineering degree from Georgia Tech. He realizes the rigor that I went through, and he checks it off as "that guy knows what he's talking about." So by going through those classes, you're kind of earning the stripes on your shoulder.

My second semester freshman year, I still thought I wanted to be a physician, but I also wanted to explore my options. After a good bit of persistence, I got into Dr. Steve Potter's lab working on neuro research. I published a couple papers, built some really cool toys, and really learned some stuff about neurology. I still talk about it even though I'm in cardiology now. After that, I got an opportunity with Dr. Michelle LaPlaca to work with a new technology for concussion detection.

I played tennis my freshman year competitively for Georgia Tech and then joined the club team after that. I got too into academics to commit to that. I also was a member of a social fraternity. You do college one time. Live that live as long as you can, and enjoy it.

I work in business management and strategy consulting at Bain & Company. (Yes, Mitt Romney's firm). I've been at Bain for a year and a half and have already been on a diverse set of projects ranging from organizational designs to long -term growth strategies for clients in industries such as energy, software, retail, e-commerce, industrial goods, and private equity.

Although my job doesn't directly utilize my science background, BME's PBL approach directly translates especially well to the consulting world. The PBL classes provide a repeatable framework for you to tackle tough problems, and the design classes provide the chance for you to learn to develop an integrated solution to a complex problem as part of a team. As well, BME's programming and modeling classes have made me much better at excel and building models than most of my other co-workers.

I worked for Dr. Yoganathan in the Cardiovascular Fluid Mechanics Lab. My projects in the lab focused on studying the effects of fluid forces on the biology of aortic valves. The science side, aortic valves, doesn't have much to do with business, but the experience in working with a team, being accountable for a long-term project, and learning to effectively communicate my results was invaluable.

I played tennis my freshman year competitively for Georgia Tech and then joined the club team after that. I got too into academics to commit to that. I also was a member of a social fraternity. You do college one time. Live that live as long as you can, and enjoy it.


Did you find the Georgia Tech BME curriculum helpful? What would you change about it?

7. What are your future aspirations?

8. Do you have any tips for current undergrads wishing to pursue the same path as you?

First I'll finish medical school, finish residency and finally practice like any other physician, but in addition to that, I hope to do a lot of charity work for our community. It's always good to give back, and there are so many people in need. As well, I'd like to promote engineering to younger people in the community. There simply aren't enough of us!

First and foremost, do it because you really want to dedicate yourself to humanity not because you had this random idea that sounded pretty okay. Being two years in and looking back, I absolutely do not regret that path I've chosen, and that's the way that everyone should feel. Passion is what will make you a great doctor, not intelligence alone. Also, when you consider different medical schools to apply to, take a look at the mission statement of that school and see how it pairs up against your aspirations in life. If you're a person who would like to do primary care and charity work, then perhaps you shouldn't go to a school that touts its research base and vice versa.

The BME curriculum prepared me well for graduate school, mostly in teaching me the problem-solving, writing, and technical skills that are necessary. I think the importance of statistics for doing research should be emphasized earlier in the curriculum to aid students in their undergraduate research.

I knew that graduate school was the path I wanted to take before I started college at Tech. I considered other paths during my time at Tech, but I liked doing research in the academic setting, and graduate school was the right path to set me up for my future goals.

In the future, my primary plan is to teach and run a research lab at a top university, but I am still keeping options open for getting into an industry position in biotech.

Do meaningful research while in college. Research experience will help you decide if graduate school is right for you and help guide you to the right program when considering your choices for graduate school. Consider doing a summer research internship somewhere outside of Georgia Tech to see how different schools and institutions run research labs. Talk to current graduate students to get their perspective. If you are heading straight to graduate school after senior year, considering spending time your senior year to apply for graduate school fellowships. You may think you are busy then, but in my opinion this is the best time to apply for fellowships.

When I went through, we did not really have a choice on any electives because there were so many courses we had to take, and that was a bit frustrating. I would have loved to have taken a management course or a venture capital course. That would've been really valuable in my undergrad to have a little bit of academic knowledge. Because I didn't know what I wanted to do, midway through college I was so confused. I'd always wanted to be a physician, then I really liked research, but the whole business thing sounded really interesting. It would have been a good time to take an elective on management to learn a little bit about business.

During my senior year and after graduation, I helped to start this neuro company with Dr. LaPlaca. Even then I was interviewing for medical school. My advisors for the company wrote me recommendation letters. In fact, I was riding to my Emory Medical School interview, and my mentor in the company who was a physician at Emory told me I should really consider the business route - that it would be a good fit for me. So at that point I actually pulled all my applications from med school and I've stuck with this route ever since.

My personal interests are in creating new technologies, finding needs out there that new technologies can solve, and being a key player in launching them. That's the kind of stuff I get really excited about. As far as where my career is headed, I think either leadership within Saint Jude or getting into leadership of a small biotech company launching some new product.

My tip for everyone is the same tip I heard: get a taste test of everything. This is the last opportunity you'll really have to kind of feel things out. If you go down one road and get a couple years into it, it's hard for you to then change paths. Even if you're 100 percent set on doing research or 100 percent set on running a company, you still should shadow a doctor or do a semester of research. Having that breadth of experience is extremely valuable.

I decided to apply for consulting jobs in the fall of senior year. The idea of seeing different industries and learning about different areas of businesses was intriguing, and it seemed a like a great opportunity to travel and continue to build on the analytical background I developed at GT.

Consulting has been a great experience and a solid foundation for my career, and while I plan on working at Bain for a few more years, I do want to eventually go grad school to pursue a more specialized degree. My current plan is to attend a dual degree program combining an MBA with a healthcare related degree and then use my business background to work in health care and administration.

It's important to be able to communicate why you're interested in changing paths from a scientific to a business career. Show how your engineering background has trained you in logical thinking and analysis even if you don't know all the business terms just yet. Practice, practice, practice case interviews.

I found most parts of the curriculum helpful, especially the wide variety of classes that BMEs take. Some people may think that it's not pertinent to know so little about so much, but I do believe that the versatility of our major is what permits us as BMEs to enter so many different fields, even medicine. I think the best change that is already starting to take place is the idea of "tracks" where those individuals that care to start focusing on a particular aspect of BME are allowed to do so while the rest of us that enjoy dipping our toes in every puddle are also allowed to continue in that fashion.

The education I received from the PBL and modeling classes are a large part of the reason I got a job offer at Bain, and I think those approaches to learning are fantastic. However, I do feel there is somewhat of a gap in teaching students to effectively present and communicate the results of all their hard work. While presentations in undergrad may seem like a silly hoop you have to jump before the professor will read your report, in the real world, presentations can make or break your work. Your professors know you're smart and capable of a thorough analysis, but your clients won't know that unless you effectively communicate it. Some people may be able to draw upon outside presentation experiences from a lab or an extracurricular, but it would be great to see that sort of training on effective communication techniques integrated into a few courses.

6. When and why did you decide that this was the path for you?

Going to medical school was actually at the back of my mind throughout Tech, but I really decided on pursuing it during my senior year. The thought occurred to me that while I absolutely loved BME, I craved the more directly humane path to helping the world rather than indirectly through innovation.

Dr. Jeremy Ackerman Clinician, Engineer, Teacher By Prateek Neil Viswanathan—Undergraduate Student in the Coulter Department

Jeremy D. Ackerman MD, Ph.D. currently teaches the CODE class at Georgia Tech. (Photo: Jacob Khouri)

IT IS NO SECRET that a significant proportion of Biomedical Engineering (BME) students at the Georgia Institute of Technology aspire to a career that impacts healthcare. Some students plan to design medical devices in industry, while others plan to attend medical school and become doctors. For most students, these two paths are mutually exclusive, and this schism manifests itself in the healthcare field, where physicians and engineers share a single goal of improving medicine, but speak two different languages. Dr. Jeremy Ackerman is one of the exceptions to this rule. As an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine at Emory, Ackerman works some days in the emergency rooms at Emory University Hospital and Grady Memorial Hospital, and other days he works on developing new technologies that can positively impact the healthcare industry. Here at the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, he is responsible for teaching the BMED 4813, a Clinical Observational Design Experience course, which takes students interested in medicine to the emergency rooms of Grady Memorial Hospital and Emory


University Hospital. By his own admission, Ackerman’s involvement in the healthcare field started somewhat accidentally. Ackerman, while earning a master’s degree in engineering near the end of the Cold War, realized that he did not want a career designing missilesguidance systems. The Cold War was over, the military was giving fewer and fewer grants for research, and Ackerman came to the realization that he would not be happy with a career in this field. Uncertain if he would find a job, Ackerman received encouragement from an advisor to take up a research assignment from a small defense contract group. The assignment was to write a paper exploring the potential medical applicability of a particular piece of technology used to identify camouflaged tanks. While doing this assignment, Ackerman became aware of the fact that engineering and research technology was advancing at a very rapid pace, while the technology found in healthcare remained twenty to thirty years behind current state of the art technology. Ackerman perceived an important opportunity to take cutting edge technologies from engineering research and reprogram them to have an impact in the healthcare world. He initially aimed for a Ph.D in BME; however, his father, also an engineer, explained to him that he would need access to clinical settings and a clinical advisor. After some deliberations, Ackerman enrolled in medical school at the University of North Carolina and joined the M.D/ Ph.D program. Dr. Ackerman spends most days at the emergency rooms in Grady, and Emory University Hospital seeing patients. Occasionally, however, he finds ways to apply his engineering background to his profession as a clinician, such as considering improvements to medical devices. Ackerman also spends time on Georgia Tech’s campus, working with colleagues in mechanical engineering, teaching, and advising research and senior design groups. For the latter two groups, he asks regarding clinical realities, such as marketability, cost, and whether or not the students’ ideas would actually work in the clinical field.

Dr. Ackerman’s CODE class at Georgia Tech was started by David Wright. Wright, who wanted to do research in emergency medicine, was lacking in funding, but overflowing with passionate undergraduate students. He began training undergraduates to collect research in emergency rooms. The class started with clinical research, meeting at Grady for eight hours a week to collect data. Dr. Ackerman was brought on to bring an engineering perspective, and after receiving a large grant, Dr. Wright stepped down. The Coulter Department wanted to make the class more engineering-oriented, so Ackerman redefined it as solving the problem by observing the problem. The class was a very large success from the first semester that Dr. Ackerman taught it, and only gets better as the semesters pass by. “For four semesters now,” Ackerman states, “ the class has been observing problems at both Grady and Emory Hospital”. Unlike most of the Problem Based Learning classes, such as BME 1300 or 2300, Ackerman says,

“ I don’t actually give problems to my students to solve.” The main point of this class is to teach the student how to identify the problems themselves. “An example of a problem that students had identified in Grady Hospital,” Ackerman says, “was the nature of the doors to emergency rooms, which are positioned awkwardly and required excessive force to open. Fairly constantly, when these doors were opened in the middle of an emergency, they would injure people waiting on the other side”. This problem itself is minor in the grand scheme of things at the hospital, but is a good representation of the ideas behind BMED 4813. The other theme mentioned in the Grady class was the difference between problems arising from medical devices themselves versus problems arising from the complicated interactions of the medical devices with

the environment of the emergency room. According to Ackerman, students usually come into the Grady class with the notion that faults in medical devices

are solely responsible for the problems in emergency rooms, but Dr. Ackerman strives to teach his students that most problems are of the second kind. By all

accounts, Ackerman’s class is a success and an invaluable glimpse into the world of the clinician and of healthcare.

Student Spotlight Aswin Natarajan — A Path to Self-Discovery by Guergana Terzieva—Undergraduate Student in the Coulter Department

Aswin Natarajan spent his fall semester in Singapore for a study abroad program. (Photo: Hyunjun Fred Woo)

SPENDING A SEMESTER ABROAD can be a life-changing event - it certainly was the case for Aswin Natarajan. During the Fall 2011 semester, he studied abroad in the exotic Singapore, where he was able to separate himself from the daily grind, slow down, and see the bigger picture. Natarajan came to Georgia Tech to study Biomedical Engineering (BME) visioning medical school following graduation. What is better than a career in medicine? He mentioned that he fell into the “invisible script”, working towards a career that society deemed appropriate for people with similar views. “Medicine was one of those things I felt I had to do,” Natarajan says. Furthermore, he shared that people are pressured into the field without seeing and exploring other opportunities. While attending the National University of Singapore as an exchange student, Natarajan studied Biomechanics, Fluid Mechanics, and Hindi I. This course load facilitated his traveling, reading, and immersion into the local culture. He enjoyed delicious cuisines and a variety of teas, while

meeting many new people while amassing life-long connections. The time he did not spend studying or reading he went backpacking with another Georgia Tech biomedical engineering student, Jerome Choo. In late August they took a bus towards the dense Malaysian rainforest to the tea plantations of the Cameron Highlands. Backpacking their way down the Malaysian peninsula they reached Cameron, Kuala Lumpur and even Batu Caves in Malacca. By the end of those four months the two undergraduates had gone to Indonesia, explored the street markets of Bangkok, seen the antiquated temples of Ankor Wat in Cambodia, and went scuba diving in pristine waters of Koh Phi Phi in Thailand. These diverse experiences allowed Natarajan to become aware of his ambitions and goals, and helped him build a global network of foreign friends, by meeting people from Russia, Mexico, Vietnam, Belgium, Indonesia, Thailand, India and Norway. Having completed his Fall Study Abroad semester, Natarajan has come back with new ideas for his future.

During his outward experiences in Study Abroad, Natarajan realized that he should find a career focused on his strengths and interests rather than following the “invisible script.” While his primary focus of personal and professional growth and development has not changed, he acknowledges that his future is connected to serving people and overcoming big challenges facing the world of BME. He is still unsure what path he will follow after graduation, but he feels biomedical engineering will prepare him for it. He refers to BME as a very broad field of knowledge that emphasizes critical thinking, and a study that has various applications. As a consequence of his trip, Natarajan has decided to form a new organization by the name Joule. This organization’s primary goal is to encourage members to actively pursue

“ideas and projects that inspire individual growth, positively impact the community, and promote a vibrant culture in Georgia Tech’s campus.”

The key to this vision is replacing the conventional thought of "resumebuilding" with a new paradigm of building genuine value in oneself based on an individual's true passions and talents. Natarajan hopes to translate his vision to open new possibilities to students with the creation of Joule.


What is Consulting? A Growing Demand in the Healthcare Industry by Jaemin Sung — Undergraduate Student in the Coulter Department EVERYONE SHOULD SEEK COUNSELING when the path to the future is unclear and individual goals are undefined. Akin to how academic advisors provide students with many tips to succeed in school, consultants provide services to companies and even large-scale firms, proposing solutions to each business entity's marketing or management problem. Inherently, companies want to grow and expand their business in all dimensions. However, sooner or later, they run into a barrier characterized by the complexity of market and the regulations enforced by the government. Consultants then step in and build a viable business model for companies.

So, what does consulting for a company entail? Michael Lan, Senior Manager at Jabian Consulting and a graduate of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, shared his knowledge on the topic. According to Lan, consulting consists of four parts: understanding the background of the problem, gathering information to analyze the problem, formulating a hypothesis (solution), and refining the hypothesis to either prove or disprove. In the earliest stage, the consultant wants to understand the nature of the problem. Speaking to the people within the company initiates an

Michael Lan is currently a Senior Manager at Jabian Consulting. (Photo: Rachel Moore


investigation into what went awry in the company's operations. The following step is information gathering. Now the consultant needs to get to the crux of the problem. Any data that detail the company’s modus operandi is necessary to diagnose the issue with the business model. After researching every aspect of the problem, the consultant forms a hypothesis to fix the problem. The hypothesis is a solution combined with an improved business strategy. Generally, the consultant builds several hypotheses that are all feasible but tailored in styles. The last step is the refinement of the hypotheses. In this stage, the consultant returns to the problem with the solutions in hand. The consultant tests the hypotheses and chooses the best one to present to the client, along with short term and long term options. Lan describes the final solution as an “itinerary for a road trip;” the final solution needs to get the company from where it stands now to where it needs to be. If consultation sounds familiar, it is probably due to the parallel that can be drawn between consulting and BMED 1300. Every consultant has to solve a problem by researching data and proposing a solution to the appropriate audience. One of the most important pieces in consulting is teamwork; nothing is achieved through a solo act in the real world, and group dynamics are integral to the success of each consulting project. For a role that requires advising companies plans of action in both the short term and the long term, training for the consultants is heavily emphasized. A consultant's training consists of external (course work) and internal (onthe-job) training. As if the consultant were in school, the external training demands a required 40-to-50-hour per year training designed to solidify foundation skills and professional development. The quality of internal training is contingent upon what a consultant learns from each project completed. Also, advice from a senior manager serves as a key learning tool in internal training. Healthcare consulting is a rapidly growing subset of consulting. The current timetable for healthcare

consulting is opportune thanks to the healthcare reforms enacted by the Obama administration. The healthcare mandates affect all segments of the industry, including providers (doctors and hospitals), payers (insurance companies), life-sciences (pharmaceutical companies), and support (healthcare product distribution). Unlike other industries, health care companies have to adjust to the changes resulting from the recent healthcare reform laws in order to avoid fines and reduction in subsidies by the government. In fact, Lan explains, "lots of companies, especially on the insurance side, are doing a lot of work to understand changes [mandated by the government] that are about to happen." They seek consultants more than ever to project what healthcare will be a few years down the road and to meet the requirements set by the government. With consulting in high demand, there is a growing number of college graduates aspiring to be consultants. Who is fit for a consulting career, then? Lan thinks that it is not necessarily business or accounting majors who meet the qualifications for the job. Most likely, it has to be someone who is able to "understand how to take something very generic and vague, drive that to a specific problem, and create a solution out of that." Regarding soft (personality) skills, people who are comfortable speaking with new people can be good candidates for consulting. The consultants travel all across the country to meet and do business with their clients, and soft skills facilitate communication in various places. Many times, clients don't provide much feedback to the solutions presented by a consultant. At which point, the consultant should be able to elicit more responses from the clients to help them see what is best for their companies. With his expertise in business strategy and operations improvement, Lan consults for various industries including healthcare, pharmaceutical, telecommunications, financial services, media, and non-profit. He serves on the Board for Georgia Tech Business Network (GTBN) which is a volunteer organization that aims at nurturing Georgia Tech connections in the business world. When asked about what the best part about his career is, Lan answers that it's the problem-solving aspect of his job, whereby he works on business problems every day that are similar in context but very unique by nature.

Clinicals The Translation of Studies to Real World Solutions by Iva Zivojinovic—Undergraduate Student in the Coulter Department

Harold Shlevin works with Georgia Tech's Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) as manager of ATDC-Biosciences. (Photo: William Sessions)

STUDENTS OFTEN HEAR ABOUT THE DESIGN PROCESS – ideation, prototyping, clinical trials – in classes; however, when it comes to real-world validation of clinical studies (clinicals), students have very little knowledge and expertise. Dr. Harold Shlevin, Executive in Residence and Commercialization Catalyst of the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) Bioscience Center, describes clinicals as “the roadmap for the clinical assessment [of] your drug or device and the roadmap used to show that the product can be safely used in human populations with its intended use.” Essentially, a clinical is a study conducted on humans to evaluate the effects of a potential drug or medical device. It is designed to present a device or drug to patients in a controlled manner. During the early stages of the clinical study, the focus is on the safety of the drug or device and, subsequently, shifts to its efficacy while maintaining previous standards of safety. The ultimate goal of a clinical is to provide accurate results with minimal risk to participants. If results are statistically significant, medical benefits may be obtained from the study. In general, components of clinicals are protocol-driven. The protocol defines existing information, which comes from known pharmacology, physiology, and toxicology, as well as previous animal and in-vitro studies. The objective of the trial must justify

exposing a human being to the potential risk of the study. Additionally, the protocol lays out the actual conduct of the study. This includes what will be studied; primary, secondary, and, perhaps, tertiary endpoints in the design; inclusion and exclusion criteria; data analysis methods; and clinical and statistical hypotheses. The components of a clinical study are also dependent on the stage of the study, as defined by regulators such as the FDA in the US and the EMA in Europe. This classification governs what can and cannot be done at any particular point in the study. “Most companies looking for engineers to join their clinical teams look for those with at least a Master’s degree,” Dr. Shelvin explains, “however, even the additional amount of schooling beyond an undergraduate degree cannot really give a student the practical working knowledge of how to do a r e g u l a te d p r o d u c t d e v e l o p me n t project.” Currently, the only way to learn what happens in the drug and device industry is to experience the industry firsthand and to learn from someone who is a day-to-day expert. To address this problem, a new Master’s program is currently in development: Biomedical Innovation and Development. Headed by Dr. Franklin Bost, the new program would provide a tremendous opportunity for all of those wishing to participate in clinical studies professionally.


Continued from page 1

Master’s Program The proposal for the BioID program is an ongoing process, which started three years ago. If the Board of Regents accepts the proposal in spring 2012, the BioID program would start fall 2012, with in an induction class of 20. By the third year, the class size projects to grow to 40 students. Roughly 90% of classes would be taught at Georgia Tech, with the remainder taught at Atlanta hospitals. Classes would include Medical Design Process, Clinical Experience, Product Planning and Project, and a two-semester long Clinical Project. To be considered, candidates should have a 3.0 overall GPA and a 3.25 undergraduate major GPA. For the application process, candidates should submit GRE scores, statement of intent, three letters of recommendation, as well as exemplify

proficiency in oral and written English. Overall, the proposal for the BioID program has garnered positive reviews. According to Rafael V. Andino, Research and Development Director of the Bard Medical Divison, “the program has much merit to produce viable candidates for the medical device industry and for companies like ours.” Todd Newton, Chief Financial Officer of ArthroCare, believes the program will bridge the gap between research and commercialization and notes that “graduates need to knowledge in innovation, development, and commercialization of medcial devices to implement entrepreneurship and public services.” Thus, this degree lays the foundation to attack unmet needs within the healthcare system, allowing for graduates to have a competitive edge against other job seekers looking for similar positions within the industry.

Graduate Student Spotlight Alice Cheng by Amrita Banerjee—Undergraduate Student in the Coulter Department ALICE CHENG began her college career without inkling about engineering. During her undergraduate career at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), she gradually found a passion in Bioengineering. Now, Cheng is a Ph.D. student in the Boyan Laboratory at the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University as she pursues her passion in the area of Biomaterials.

Alice Cheng , a first year graduate student, is conducting research in an orthopedic lab. (Photo: Sheridan Carroll)


As an undergraduate at Penn State, Cheng felt ambivalent about what to study. She knew that she enjoyed Biology and the applied sciences, but did not want to attend medical school. It was during her sophomore year when she entered the Bioengineering program, and felt that this was where her expertise lies. “I wanted to do something that challenged me. Bioengineering was the right track since it was interdisciplinary with an application to all of the basic sciences,” Cheng explains. While entering this field of study, she looked into the scientific areas she might enjoy for research purposes. It was in her Materials Science course where she realized that she coveted to pursue Biomaterials. “I [really] enjoyed the topics we covered in class. At the start of my junior year, I started work in my Materials Science professor’s lab,” Cheng says. Her research project focused on the “effect[s] of varying hydrophilicity of glass microbeads on initial cell attachment.” She worked meticulously to understand what the relationship between hydrophilic particles and cells meant inside the human body—and “analyzed the energy associated with the displacements of proteins during initial cell attachment within the body.” Aside from research, Cheng also participated in other extracurricular activities. Cheng was heavily involved in the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) and Engineering Leadership Development minor (ELDM) programs through the College of Engineering. As part of these programs, Cheng took advantage of many of the travelling opportunities and received a glimpse into the rich cultures of various countries; for instance, China, Kenya, Hungary and India. “We worked with engineering students in Morocco on a water resources project, and partnered with the Children’s Youth and Empowerment Center in Kenya on a telemedicine project. One of my many other favorites was a virtual teaming project with business students from Corvinus University in Budapest, Hungary,” Cheng mentions. Her participation through these programs fueled her passion for collaborative engineering projects. Another service organization in which Cheng was engaged was Penn State’s Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), where she rose to the position of president during her senior year. As president, one of the many significant goals she focused on was integration. “My class had only about forty

students, and as a result, everyone was spread apart in terms of trying out different things.” Thus, as president, Cheng assimilated students based upon whether or not they were looking into industry, medical school, graduate school, or those who were not quite sure of what to do. “We spent some time engaging the students with the faculty. BMES did a ‘Lunch and Learn,’ where six to eight students were assigned to two professors. It helped to integrate the student and faculty society together.” All in all, Cheng enjoyed immersing herself into and interacting within the BME community at Penn State. Although she spent a good amount of time conducting research as an undergraduate, Cheng was not quite sure of what to do next. She knew that she loved to travel, and considered joining the Peace Corps or Teach for America. However, she decided to pursue a Ph.D. “It was actually my advisor who helped me in making my decision. He had a big influence on me and told me to consider pursuing graduate studies,” Cheng says. It was when she looked at Georgia Tech’s Biomedical Engineering program that she decided to apply. Cheng became interested when she learned of Georgia Tech’s reputation within the biomedical community, along with the international collaborative Ph.D program with Peking and Emory Universities. Cheng is now a first year graduate student working in Dr. Barbara Boyan’s laboratory. Her work focuses on improving osseo-integration, or the integration of bone, with orthopedic implants. In order to achieve attachment of the implants to nearby growing bone, there must be a way to prevent the surrounding tissue from growing. Bone and tissue growth compete when Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSC) first reach the wounded implant area. An optimal titanium implant that produces osteoblastic differentiation from MSCs contains roughness at both the micro and nano scales. “My project is to optimize a new technique for producing these nano-structures on titanium, characterize the surfaces, and finally perform vitro and possibly in vivo studies with the modified surfaces,” Cheng comments. While pursuing her interests inside the laboratory, Cheng is also very enthusiastic about activities outside the laboratory, mainly in engineering outreach. Currently, she is the outreach chair for the American Society for Engineering Education, ASEE, a newly formed student chapter of the organization that emphasizes the importance of engineering education in both K -12 and higher education. As part of her duties, Cheng work with Women in Engineering (WIE) at Georgia Tech to plan short engineering-based curriculums for K-12 school visits. On March 14, she represented the College of Engineering on a discussion panel at the national “Stay With It – Day of Engineering, Facebook Live Event.” Cheng, along with Intel CEO Paul Otellini, Montel Williams, NASA’s Charles Bolden and many other engineering executives, answered questions and encouraged students to continue their pursuit of an engineering degree. Cheng is very passionate about the study of Biomedical Engineering and is a proponent of humanitarian engineering. As for the future, Cheng is keeping all of her doors open. She is considering both academia and industry, and is pursuing the Management of Technology graduate certificate program. She advises current BME undergraduate students “not to limit yourselves. I think students should try out their interests to figure out what they want to do. Also, be curious about your work. It’s important to find things out for yourself in the sciences and research.”

calendar April 2 4th Annual Georgia Nanotechnology & Infectious Disease Symposium 8am – Emory University 4 GaP Seminar Series Sepideh Dolatshahi and Song Seto 12pm – IBB 1128 10 Breakfast Club Seminar Series “Ant Rafts and other water-repellent systems” David Hu, PhD - Assistant Professor, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering 8:30am – IBB 1128 BioE Seminar Series Robert Full - University of California, Berkeley 11am – IBB 1128 Nano@Tech Seminar Shanta Dhar, PhD - Assistant Professor of Chemistry, University of Georgia 12pm – Marcus Nanotechnology Building 11 GaP Seminar Series Longchuan Li and Jessilynn Dunn 12pm – IBB 1128 16 AbSciCon 2012 Astrobiology Science Conference, hosted by NASA and Georgia Tech 8am – Atlanta, GA 24 BME Young Innovators: George Seelig, Univ. of Washington Quantitative Biology and DNA Nanotechnology 11am – Whitaker 1103 25 7th Annual International Conference of Biomechanics in Vascular Biology & Cardiovascular Disease 8am – Marcus Nanotechnology Building GaP Seminar Series Ben Hsieh and Baoyu Liu 12pm – IBB 1128 26 BioE Seminar Series Efrosini Kokkoli, University of Minnesota 11am – IBB 1128 28 Don Giddens’ Symposium Georgia Tech and Emory will host a symposium in honor of Don Giddens in Atlanta, Georgia. The symposium will pay tribute to Don’s life and career through the decades beginning with the 1970s 9am – Historic Academy of Medicine at Georgia Tech


(Photos: Hyunjun Fred Woo)

Design Toolbox 3D Printing by Arun Kumar—Undergraduate Student in the Coulter Department AN ESSENTIAL TOOL for rapid prototyping, 3D printing models projected devices and their components. One of the most commonly used method of 3D printing, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), uses the mechanism of stacking thin layers of polymer to form a 3D model. The Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory houses the equipment for this type of 3D printing for the students to utilize for their project needs. For classes like senior design, research, and the InVenture Prize competition, FDM proves to be an invaluable tool. With competition and project deadlines approaching, many students plan on creating 3D models of their devices; however, when planning to use the FDM machine, students should remember to follow a few guidelines. First and foremost, time management is essential; 3D printing is a lengthy process. Not only does it take time to develop and engineer the device, but the FDM machine can take up to 60 hours to create the prototype, depending on its complexity. Marty Jacobson, one of the instructors for BMED 2300, notes that “any rapid prototyping process is one of the slowest in terms of elapsed time, meaning from start to finish in sheer number of hours spent.” Jacobson also says that “when you probably want to


get your print done, is probably when everyone else wants to get their print done too, so it’s very good to get ahead of the curve.” In addition to managing time, students must learn to use rapid prototyping properly. It is important to use prototypes as a verification of a device only after careful planning and engineering has been done . There is no substitute for tried and true techniques such as building a prototype out of paper by hand. “The best 3D print”, Jacobson explains, “is the one you never made. Which is to say that drawing something in solidworks and thinking it’s going to be awesome when it’s 3D printing is not what an engineer does. A 3D print is a representation of something that you already know is dead on. You do that by refining the design through paper models, building with legos, whatever it takes to refine the design. A 3D model should be verification of your design.” However, rapid prototypes can be powerful models for learning about a device and using that knowledge in the iterative design process. When designing, it is also important to keep the models simple. “The best part to 3D print is something that is less than four inches in diameter and a quarter of an inch tall. I can print that in an hour,” Jacobson remarks. The higher the complexity of the model, the longer

the FDM will take to produce the final product. As well, more complex models and longer printing times result in a greater chance for printing error or machine malfunction. Besides keeping the model simple , students must remember to design for manufacture. The final product is useful for understanding the dimensions and appearance of a device. However, 3D printing does not give any information regarding large scale manufacturing processes. An important facet of designing a device is to understand how it can be mass produced since ultimately, if the device needs to prosper within the market, it should be designed such that it can be manufactured through automated processes. Automation would allow manufacturers to produce higher volumes of the supply, satisfying the demand efficiently. 3D printing is an evolving design tool. Though often slow and difficult to complete, the products have incredible potential in helping designers learn and develop new devices for the future . Regarding the benefits of 3D printing, Jacobson noted that “if it’s a welldesigned part, it can help give credibility to your presentation because if you do it right, it can look like a really professional part.”

April 2012  

April 2012 issue of the Pioneer.

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you