BME Day Highlights Opportunities to Collaborate and Celebrate Around Improving Human Health
Inaugural departmental event showcases biomedical engineering as an up-and-coming research and education powerhouse at Stevens.
Since biomedical engineering (BME) was established as a department at Stevens Institute of Technology in 2018, it has grown to include more than 400 students at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels.
BME research areas span biomaterials and tissue engineering, biomedical imaging, biomechanics and rehabilitation and neural engineering — all with the ambitious goal of solving critical problems of diagnosing, treating and even preventing diseases to improve human health and quality of life.
The group’s clear progress, crucial successes and contagious excitement took center stage at the first-annual BME Day, a half-day program held at Stevens on February 3, 2023.
More than 150 attendees — including students and faculty from departments throughout Stevens, as well as staff, alumni and external guests — packed the University Center tech-flex auditorium for the event.
“BME has been at Stevens for almost 20 years as a program, but it’s a relatively new department, and we’d never had a formal launch,” said Jennifer Kang-Mieler, BME department chair and professor who joined Stevens in 2022. “BME Day was a wonderful platform to have that fresh start of sharing our pride in what BME is all about, what we do in our labs and what our students are learning, and to meet old and new friends and begin to create a community to learn about each other and exchange ideas.”
That journey kicked off with remarks from Kang-Mieler and other university leaders including Nariman Farvardin, president; Jianmin Qu, provost; and Jean Zu, Lore E. Feiler dean of the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science.
Then the spotlight turned to showcase faculty research. Moderated by Carrie Perlman, associate professor of BME, and Hongjun Wang, BME professor, three assistant BME professors — Yu Gan, Jinho Kim and Shang Wang — presented their cutting-edge research projects. In addition, there were video montages to introduce other BME faculty labs.
"I was thrilled to present the recent progress my research team has made toward establishing bioengineering technology for donor lung repair,” said Kim. “The event provided an excellent opportunity to unite with our BME students, alumni, faculty and staff members, and foster meaningful connections."
Peter Popolo, BME lecturer, and Xiaojun Yu, BME professor and associate chair of graduate studies, introduced 16 senior design projects that will be presented at the Innovation Expo in April. The seniors displayed posters about their clinical problems and design solutions during the break and at lunch.
Next up were the student presentations, moderated by Antonia Zaferiou, assistant professor of BME, and Sally Shady, BME teaching associate professor and associate chair of undergraduate studies.
“Our BME students are dedicated to their projects, and you can see their growth through their experiences at Stevens,” Kang-Mieler observed. “It goes above and beyond their education, with hands-on lab experience, research that’s cutting-edge and innovative and skill sets that will set them up for success whether they go on to graduate or professional schools or industry or anywhere else.”
The presenting students included doctoral candidate Emily Ashbolt, graduate student Samantha Gajda and undergraduate Andre Faubert, all anticipating earning their respective degrees in 2023, as well as Sam Liu, a doctoral student, and Arianna Gehan ’24, a rising senior.
“It was an honor to share what I have been working on,” said Gehan, who is developing and commercializing an app to help people with diabetes manage blood glucose levels and alert others if the user is in medical danger. “BME Day was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the research our faculty and peers are conducting, and I enjoyed networking and chatting with other students in the department. My favorite part was seeing the posters from the senior design projects and talking with the seniors about what they have been working on. It made me even more excited about working on my design project next year!”
While Gehan was finding her own sparks of excitement, she was also sparking similar excitement in others.
“Arianna’s work is incredible, and it was inspiring to see someone my age accomplishing so much already,” said Sophia Mains, a BME student who is also a member of the Class of 2024. “BME Day gave me a great opportunity to take a closer look at the research our professors are doing and possible labs I would like to be involved in, and to network and learn more about being a BME major and applying to medical school. I’m looking forward to the next one!”
Returning to campus for a brief panel were Stevens alumni Sean Sanford M.E. ‘18 Ph.D. '22, now a test engineer at Medtronic; Melanie Caba B.E. '19 M.E. '20[LR1], currently a clinical research associate at Stryker; and Nicole Fosko '18, an internal medicine resident at Penn Medicine. George McConnell, assistant BME professor, and Becky Tucci, BME lecturer, moderated the panel.
The program generated enthusiasm both within the department and beyond.
“It was truly wonderful to see our students being so motivated and trying to do better and improve the quality of life,” Kang-Mieler said. “BME Day gave our students insights into multiple pathways they can go during their education and in their careers. Visitors gained a greater appreciation of what our department is all about and what our students are doing. It’s great because faculty can collaborate on projects, and students can see what other things are happening throughout Stevens. It's that human connection that we're able to foster while connecting on an intellectual level as well.”
BME Day marked the successful fulfillment of one of Kang-Mieler’s initial goals as department head and a strong building block for her ambitious departmental vision.
“The reason I came to Stevens and took this job is to grow our department,” she noted. “We have a terrific foundation and a tremendous amount of excitement, and we’re recruiting great students and faculty, growing our research projects and efforts and expanding our educational efforts. I want people to want to keep an eye on BME and see what we’re going to do next year and beyond. We're on the right path to grow and make BME something that is truly special at Stevens.”