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VCU Students Win At 2014 Annual BMES

Monday, November 17, 2014  
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Student, faculty and staff representatives from the VCU Department of Biomedical Engineering joined approximately 3,600 of their contemporaries, presenters, and keynote speakers in San Antonio for the October 2014 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting (BMES).

Of the twenty-eight students traveling, eight Biomedical Engineering (BME) students took home awards and special accolades, making VCU the recipient of 30% of all undergraduate research awards won.

VCU faculty and staff in attendance included Dean Barbara Boyan, Ph.D., Rebecca Heise, Ph.D., René Olivares-Navarrete, D.D.S., Ph.D., Nastassja A. Lewinski, Ph.D., Daniel Conway, Ph.D., Christopher Lemmon, Ph.D., and Sharon Hyzy, senior research associate.

“We had a strong presence in comparison to last year when we had eight total people traveling including students and faculty,” said Olivares-Navarrete. “For many students this was their first time experiencing a national conference.”

Olivares-Navarrete’s students, Sarah Ayad, Sarah Cameron, Imran Khatri, Devon Mason, Gireesh Reddy and Bhavya Vendra, won the Senior Design and Research Award for their team paper, “Topographical Cues on Biomimetic Electro spun Scaffolds for Bone Tissue Engineering.” Reddy also received the Undergraduate Design and Research Award for his research titled, “Fracture Healing in a Mouse Model of Saether-Chotzen Syndrome.” Joseph Herbert was awarded a 2014 BMES Student Travel Grant, and Erin Hewett won the Reviewer's Choice Award for her poster on “MG63 Morphology and Behavior on Shape-Memory Polymer for Osteoblast Differentiation.”

“It was exciting to go with fellow VCU BME students and faculty as representatives of both our engineering school and our BME department,” said Reddy. “Seeing that VCU could put forth thirty people and the presence that size group brings was great for publicizing our strengths as an engineering school. In addition, I think that immersing myself in the cutting-edge research and career workshops presented at the conference strengthened my education in a tangible way.”

Initiated by Hyzy during her time at Georgia Tech, Reddy’s research involves long bone fractures in mice to observe healing over time. The impact of his acknowledged work, co-conducted with Hyzy, benefits the body of knowledge surrounding Saethre-Chotzen Syndrome, a condition found in infants and characterized by malformed skulls.

“The annual meeting is good for students to get to see what research other people are doing in an accessible way,” Hyzy continued. “Anything you are interested in, you can find it there.”

The notoriety generated from these students’ achievements and the publicity of the VCU BME exhibition booth, showcasing the department’s top-tier research, served as powerful recruitment tools for prospective master’s and doctoral students.

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