Biomedical Engineering

Achievements Archive



AcouSense Team Wins Second Place at iCAN

A team from Tingrui Pan’s lab, composed of two BME undergrads (Ryan Harake, Karan Sandhu) and two graduate students (Baoqing Nie, Siyuan Xing) won second prize ($2000) in the 2011 International Contest of Application in Nano/Micro Competition (iCAN). Thirty teams from 15 different countries participated in this big competition held in Beijing, China from June 5th to June 7th. There were 2 first prizes and 4 second prizes. The team’s project is AcouSense- a Telemedical Sensing Platform for Sleep Apnea Monitoring. The platform provides portable, inexpensive and continuous monitoring for the sleep apnea disorders. It was also the senior design project for the two undergrads.


iGem Team Wins Trophy for “Best in Track”

The team competed in ‘foundational advances,’ one of a number of available tracks within the competition. For their project, they decided to expand the range of ‘kit parts’ available to would-be genetic engineers.



Graduate Students

Ying Wang

Ying Wang Wins BMES 2011 Graduate Student Award

Ying Wang, a student in Scott Simon’s lab, is a winner of the BMES 2011 Graduate Student Awards (Extended Abstract). The awards are designed to provide encouragement and recognition for students’ academic achievements. The BMES Awards Committee selects up to 5 graduate students on the basis of scientific merit, originality, and quality of written presentation. Graduate Student awards include a certificate, a complimentary registration for the Annual Meeting, and a stipend of $500 to assist with travel expenses. Ying received her award at the BMES Annual Business Meeting in Hartford, Conn, Oct. 12-15.

Rui Liu Wins SAS Graduate Student Award

Rui Liu, a BME graduate student working at the Center for Biophotonics under the supervision of Drs. Dennis Matthews and James Chan, has been chosen as one of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy’s (SAS) 2011 Graduate Student Award winners for his outstanding research in both the technology development and applications of laser tweezers Raman spectroscopy for single biological cell analysis. The award consists of a plaque or scroll and an expense-paid trip to FACSS in Reno, Nevada this October to accept the award. The award was formally presented at the 2011 Federation of Analytical Chemistry and Spectroscopy Societies (FACSS) meeting in Reno, NV on Tuesday, October 4 during the SAS Wine and Cheese Reception in the Grand Sierra Hotel. Rui Liu delivered a talk about his recent work during the SAS Award Symposium. Rui also received a 2011 SPIE Scholarship in Optics and Photonics and the 2011 Fellowship for Eighth Annual Coherent Raman Microscopy Workshop.

Sherrod Deverse received the ARCS fellowship and a BMES travel award.

Team ZinApt, composed of Mike Howland (PhD Chem Engineering ’10?, currently a post-doc for Dr. Revzin), Julia Choi, Tim Kwa, and Brian Eller (JD UC Davis Law School ’11) were finalists in the UC Davis Big Bang! business plan competition and won a Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) Commercialization Plan award for $15,000. The technology is being developed in the Revzin lab and the team is advised by Dr. Revzin and Greg McParland, an “entrepreneurship-in-readiness” mentor, connected through the PFI program.

Jen Neugenbauer received the College of Biological Sciences Dean’s Mentorship Award, May 2011 AND Professors for the Future Scholar, 2010-2011

Achievements Archive


Department Citation for Outstanding Academic Achievement: Matthew Lam

The winner of the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award for the Department of Biomedical Engineering is Matthew Lam.  With a 3.92 GPA, 13 A+’s and as a Regent’s Scholar, he epitomizes scholastic excellence.

In addition to his academic achievements, Matt has been performing research in the laboratory of Dr. Laura Marcu for the past 2 years.  As a result of these efforts he will be a co-author on a pending publication “A unique multimodal tissue characterization system combining time-resolved laser-induced fluorescence spectroscopy with ultrasonic backscatter microscopy and photoacoustic imaging”

Matt has also found time to engage in leadership activities in the Biomedical Engineering Society, serving as one of the Department Peer advisors for the past 2 years and has spent countless hours helping the department with Summer Orientation, Preview Day, Decision UC Davis, Picnic Day and our Commencement Celebration.  Outside of campus, Matt has been the recipient of both the UC Davis Medical Center Volunteer Services Scholarship and the UC Davis Community Service Award – in recognition of over 160 hours of volunteer service at UC Davis Medical Center.

Department Citation for Outstanding Undergraduate Research: Christopher Horner

Chris has worked in the lab of Dr. Kent Leach for 1 year.  From the start, he quickly developed proficiency in a number of laboratory techniques and procedures including cell culture, polymer scaffold development, and multiple wet chemistry assays.  His long hours in the lab demonstrate his enormous commitment to research.

Chris’s research has focused on characterizing the enhanced osteogenic properties of bone-forming osteoblasts isolated from infants diagnosed with premature suture fusion (craniosynostosis). The Leach lab is developing a new class of biomaterials that will provide surgeons an improved alternative to autologous bone tissue during the corrective craniotomy procedures necessary for affected children. Chris’s findings have provided a vital first step in understanding the innate properties of bone cells collected from these patients. He has performed numerous cytochemical and biochemical assays, as well as qtPCR analysis of several osteogenic marker genes, and these data have provided new insight into how these cells behave in vitro compared to cells from healthy infants.

Furthermore, Chris has also performed experiments under different oxygen tensions in order to determine if these phenotypic changes occur under physiological conditions and the hypoxic conditions associated with calvarial bone fragments following corrective surgery. In addition, his work is under consideration for presentation at the European Society of Human Genetics meeting in Sweden this June as an abstract entitled: “Calvarial Osteoblasts from Infants with Nonsyndromic Craniosynostosis Exhibit Increased Osteogenic Potential.”

In summary, Chris is a mature, dedicated, selfless, and gifted student who has made significant contributions to research while in the Leach laboratory and has played an important role in the development of their work with craniosynostosis.


Department Citation for Outstanding Academic Achievement: Justin Chen
Justin exemplifies excellence as a biomedical engineer. Justin’s scholastic excellence is evidenced by his 3.98 GPA, including 19 A+s. He has been on the Dean’s list every quarter of his undergraduate career. Besides course work, Justin has worked as an undergraduate researcher in the Orthopedic Biomechanics Laboratory directed by Professor Maury Hull for the past two years. During this period, he has worked on two independent projects. One is a clinical project to determine the amount of distal femoral bone to remove so that extension would be restored in total knee reconstruction patients. The other is retrospective project determining the varus/valgus alignment of the implanted components in the coronal plane following total knee arthroplasty. He is the 2nd author on the paper that has been submitted to Journal of Arthoplasty, a respected peer-reviewed journal in the field of total joint replacement. Another paper with Justin as the lead author is also in preparation for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. Professor Hull describes Justin as “the most capable undergraduate student in research” during the past 6 years.

Because of his demonstrated abilities, Justin was assigned his own independent research projects. One of these was a prospective clinical project to determine the amount of distal femoral bone to remove so that extension would be restored in total knee reconstruction patients. This required participation in all phases of an experimental research project which included planning the project, designing specialized equipment to conduct experiments, fabricating parts in the machine shop, using these parts in the operating room, writing software to analyze the data, performing data analysis, and assisting with writing the paper. Justin is the 2nd authors of the paper entitled “An In Vivo Study of the Effect of Distal Femoral Resection on Passive Knee Extension” that has been submitted for publication to the Journal of Arthoplasty, which is a respected peer-reviewed journal in the field of total joint replacement.

Currently, Justin is working on a second independent research project, which is a retrospective project determining the varus/valgus alignment of the implanted components in the coronal plane following total knee arthroplasty. Justin is the lead author of the paper entitled “Coronal Alignment of 400 Kinematically Aligned Custom-Fit Total Knee Arthroplasties” that is under preparation for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

In summary, Justin is extremely intelligent, highly motivated, responsible, and technically skilled. Through his outstanding work, he has advanced the science related to orthopedic health care and his accomplishments promise to benefit large numbers of patients receiving total knee replacements. Justin highly deserves the Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award.


Department Citation for Outstanding Academic Achievement: Thomas Desautels Thomas exemplifies excellence as a biomedical engineer.  He is a member of the Tau Beta Pi and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies as well as a Regents Scholar and recipient of the Edward Frank Kraft Prize.  He has been on the Dean’s list every quarter of his undergraduate career.  Thomas’s scholastic excellence is exemplified by his 3.99 GPA, including 20 A+s; all the rest of his grades were A except one A- (in Crime and Punishment – a history class).  The quarter is not over yet, he may rack up some more A+s before he is done.

Thomas embodies the Biomedical Engineering ideal of well-rounded versatility and excellence across disciplines —not only is Thomas in a highly interdisciplinary field for his major, he has also completed a minor in Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Thomas has managed to maintain his outstanding academic achievements while being active in extracurricular activities including research, administrative committee work, sports, and working 15 hrs/week. Thomas works as a Shop Assistant for the ASUCD Unitrans bus shop where he is responsible for maintaining the busses and is “licensed to drive”. Thomas was awarded “Shop Person of the Quarter” this past summer.  He cannot help but excel at everything he does.

Thomas has worked as an undergraduate researcher in two different laboratories, for Dr. Michael Savageau in Biomedical Engineering and Dr. David Corina in the Center for Mind and Brain. In Professor Savageau’s lab group he developed data analysis tools in Matlab to statistically examine the amino acid composition of various amino acid biosynthesis proteins in E. coli. His internship for the Corina lab group at the Center for Mind and Brain was also a Matlab project, dealing with signals processing applications in the study of neuroplasticity in the deaf.

Thomas will be attending the California Institute of Technology next fall as a graduate student, supported by the Caltech Benjamin M. Rosen Fellowship, in the Control Systems and Neuroprosthetics group of the Mechanical Engineering department. He is interested in neuroprosthetics.  We are very proud of his achievements and predict that he will be a shining star in his future career.  We look forward to reading great things about him in the alumni magazine.

Department Citation for Outstanding Undergraduate Research: Jonathan Lam and Ram Rao

Jon Lam has worked this part year and a half in the lab of Volkmar Heinrich in Biomedical Engineering.  Dr. Heinrich describes Jon as the “best undergraduate researcher” he has ever had in his lab. Citing Jon’s experience and unusual maturity, Dr. Heinrich gave Jon an entirely independent project rather than have him work with a graduate student, which is the more typical protocol for undergraduates. Jon’s project was an experimental study of single-cell phagocytosis by macrophages. These were advanced biomechanics/videomicroscopy studies that required dedicated maintenance of cells in culture and technically difficult micromanipulation.  Jon is further described has having become the department expert on the particular macrophage cell line he used for his project.  In addition, his research proficiency is noted as being on par with an above average graduate student. Jon’s excellent research progress led to a podium presentation at the Biomedical Engineering Society’s annual meeting, a poster presentation at the joint Biophysical Society’s 52nd annual meeting, and a co-authored oral presentation for the European Phagocyte Workshop at the 42nd annual meeting of the European Society for Clinical investigation.  In addition, he is a first author on a research paper, based on this work, in submission to the Biophysical Journal and has two other articles in preparation.

Jon has been very active outside the lab, and is a senior member of the lacrosse team, and a former officer for local chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society.  This past year he also was a coach for a sorority football team. Jon shows a passion for research and a capacity for hard work that are the trademarks for successful researchers. Jon will be staying on in Dr. Heinrich’s lab for a master’s degree this next year, and may continue on for a PhD. We are very proud of his accomplishments and look forward to seeing his continued growth and excellence.

Ram Rao has worked the past 2 and half years in the laboratory of Dr. Kent Leach.  Ram is described by Dr. Leach as “one of the very best” undergraduates he has worked with in his career.  Ram has worked the development of biodegradable thin films for tissue engineering, which contain biominerals that could direct the differentiation of stem cells into bone precursors. Ram has shown great diligence, creativity and initiative in this project, and his progress has resulted in an oral presentation at the annual meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society, presentations at the Undergraduate Research Conference and second author on a paper in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research.  Ram is further credited with independently developing an idea to apply these thin films for neural tissue engineering and he was awarded a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship to pursue this work. His success in the lab was such that he has recently taken on a third project, to evaluate the use of non-viral vectors for gene therapy in conjunction with the films.  Dr. Leach describes Ram’s work as on the order of a 2nd or 3rd year graduate student, his proficiency and problem solving capabilities are so outstanding.  This work will result in a first author paper to be submitted to Gene Therapy.

Ram also maintains an active life outside the lab, holding leadership roles in the South Asian Student Organization, serving as a member of the board of directors for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and volunteering in a local program to provide food to those less fortunate.

Ram aims to complete an MD/PhD program and work as a clinician-scientist in the field of tissue engineering.  He clearly possesses the talent and drive to succeed in these aspirations and we are very proud of him.

Department Leadership and Service Award: Ram Rao

The Department of Biomedical Engineering periodically grants a special award to graduating seniors that have taken a strong leadership role in the program and have also been of extraordinary service to the department.  Ram Rao has served as a BME Peer Advisor for two years and has also served as president of the UC Davis Chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society.  Ram was the driving force behind the official recognition of the local chapter with BMES and petitioned the department to fund a one-year membership for the first UC Davis Chapter members.  In addition to these more traditional roles, Ram has frequently exceeded his responsibilities by preparing and presenting multiple talks on the program, departmental research, and student activities for the College of Engineering, two Picnic Days, and Summer Orientation.  Ram actively advises and encourages students to seek research opportunities within the department and has credited with connected students to their future research advisors.  Ram has repeatedly devoted time outside of the academic year to advise freshman during summer orientation.  Ram also orchestrated a new educational direction for the department Picnic Day exhibit in 2007.  The department greatly values Ram’s energy and involvement in the program.   Thank you, Ram, for your contributions to the Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Program.

Best Senior Designs

Honorable mention:
“Zooscope” Project
Ross Hunter, Rashmi Sridhara and Ryan Nagao.

This project developed and imaging system to assist in the placement of endotracheal tubes for kangaroos and other animals that are difficult to intubate without visualization.  Kangaroos, for instance, can only open their mouths about 2 inches, and they have very bulky cheeks that are difficult to see past.  This makes it difficult to see the trachea so that breathing tubes can be placed in the correct location and not in the esophagus. The team came up with an imaging system that contains optics that allow you to direct where the endotracheal tube goes and easily identify the trachea.  This project was requested by Dr. Ray Wack at the Sacramento Zoo.  The judges were impressed by the team’s progress, they were able to design and build a working device in 2 quarters. And perform field tests on actual zoo animals including a snow leopard.  Congratulations on your achievement.

Runner up and honorable mention:

Multiple Biopsy Device – Concentric Tubes Model Team
Nisa Hatami, Caitlin McDonnell and Michele Frendo

This project was to develop a catheter compatible device for collecting multiple samples of tissues in the gastrointestinal tract using an endoscope. Usually multiple biopsy samples are required for cancer diagnosis, but the process to collect the samples is cumbersome as current devices allow only one tissue sample to be taken at a time. The ability to take multiple samples, with the same endoscopy procedure would be much more efficient but no such devices currently exist. This was a project that was requested by veterinary surgeon Dr. Stan Marks at the UCD Vet School. The team came up with a design consisting of jaws to cut the sample, and a collection tube.  The judges were impressed by the attention to detail shown by the team, including development of 2 scale model prototypes and an animation to illustrate the function of the device.  The clinician sees commercial potential in this work and this will be pursued further.    This project was also selected as the “People’s Choice” for Best Senior Design project.  Congratulations on your fine achievement.

Best Senior Design:

Multiple Biopsy Device – Vacuum Device Team
Adrienne Chueng, JR Palileo, Hubert Lin and Jaimie Silangcruz

The team came up with an entirely different solution to the multiple biopsy problem just described. This team developed a sophisticated device that used vacuum collection of the tissue and storage in a stepwise advancing collection chamber.  The judges were very impressed that the team was able to build an actual size model of the device and demonstrate function on isolated stomach tissue.  The team also produced excellent mechanical drawings of the components and also models of the other components in their system, such as the handle of the device. Commercial potential is also envisioned for this device and may result in filing of intellectual property rights in the future. Congratulations on your outstanding achievement.