Category: Alumni

My Story: Carolynn Que, MTUengineer

Carolynn Que at work in Dr. Smitha Rao’s Biomedical MicroDevices Lab. She earned a BS in 2018 and an MS in 2020. She now works as an associate scientist at Regeneron.

Guest Blog: Life in the Lab: Biomedical engineering student Carolynn Que, explains how one hallway conversation changed her career.

I saw an opportunity when my course instructor for Micro- and Nanotechnologies took us on a tour of her lab. The lab was small, but she was proud of it, and I was keenly interested in what she was working on. I told myself that the next day in class, I would ask to join her research group.

I chickened out for two months. Then I happened to run into her in the hallway one day. It was just the two of us and I mustered some courage, counted to three and blurted out the question. I flushed immediately thinking about how clumsy it sounded and patiently awaited her refusal. To my surprise, it never came. Instead she casually agreed to meet with me to discuss a potential project. My first thoughts were that she must be mistaking me with someone else; I had two classes with her and she had to know I’m not at the top of my class. I think she did know but Dr. Smitha Rao gave me a chance — and I haven’t looked back since.

Teamwork makes the dream work — and engineering, too.

After jumping through the necessary hoops and following all protocols to become certified to work in the lab, I found myself responsible for creating polymer solutions using various combinations of solvents and polymers such as polycaprolactone (PCL), polyvinylidene (PVDF) and polyaniline (PANI).

Using these solutions, I fabricate nanofibers using a method known as electrospinning. I change the morphologies of the nanofibers by playing around with the voltage and other parameters. I use these nanofibers as scaffolds, seed cells onto them and monitor cell proliferation and growth, which tells me how the cells behave on the scaffolds and helps me figure out ideal wound dressing parameters. The end goal is that one day this technology will expedite the healing process of diabetic foot ulcers or burn wounds.

Fluorescence illuminates the structure of nanoscaffolds used to grow cell cultures. 

While characterizing the fibers, I have learned how to use several facilities and devices. This includes a dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) machine for tensile testing in a temperature-controlled environment, a field emission scanning electron microscope (FESEM) used in nanoscale imaging, ultraviolet-visible and Fourier-transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy for compositional analysis, brightfield and fluorescent imaging. Not to mention the cell culture experience I gained working with several cell lines from cardio myoblasts and adult human fibroblasts to breast epithelial cells of varying malignancies.

The work I do in the lab builds on coursework. Working in the lab helped me understand my coursework better because I could relate it to real-life applications.

And I’m a published author. I am a co-author on a paper published in Materialia with others in the works.

Working in the lab has taught me how to use my resources to solve real problems in need of real solutions, whether it be via poring over existing literature or seeking the knowledge of peers and faculty. It is okay not to know everything, but lab work gave me the confidence to learn and better myself daily. It has also taught me to accept outcomes and results as they are — I may not like them, I may not have expected them, but things are what they are, and I will find a use for them or modify experiments to achieve better outcomes.

Working in the lab restored my confidence in myself and helped me realize GPA is just a number. It’s something I would highly recommend to any student.

Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Smitha Rao

Editor’s note: Carolyn earned her Bachelors and Master’s in Biomedical Engineering at Michigan Tech, and accepted a position as an associate scientist at Regeneron, in New York.

Biomedical Engineers Inducted into Order of the Engineering

On April 18, 2016, the Department of Chemical Engineering hosted its Order of the Engineer induction ceremony.

The ceremony welcomed 53 new members to the order, including two biomedical engineers and three faculty and staff members.

In 2015, 27 members were inducted, bringing the total of the Michigan Tech Chemical Engineering cohort to 134 since 2014.

Read more at Tech Today, by Chemical Engineering.

Kenneth L. Stevenson Biomedical Engineering Fellowship Program

Kenneth L. Stevenson Biomedical Engineering Fellowship Program

The Department of Biomedical Engineering at Michigan Technological University is now accepting applications for the Kenneth L. Stevenson Biomedical Engineering Summer Research Fellowship Program. The primary goal of the program is to provide deserving undergraduate and beginning graduate students the opportunity to participate in meaningful Biomedical Engineering research at Michigan Technological University. Specifically:

a)      Undergraduate students (2 awards): Undergraduates will receive undergraduate-to-graduate transitional research fellowships of $4000 each. Students entering their junior and senior years will be considered. The award is intended to introduce students to the rigors associated with graduate level research in Biomedical Engineering.

b)      Graduate students (2 awards): Students who have completed an undergraduate degree prior to the fellowship period and are beginning studies in Michigan Technological University’s Biomedical Engineering graduate program (PhD or MS) will receive fellowships of $5000 each in support of intensive summer research. These awards will allow students to establish their research in the initial phase of their graduate studies.

The application process is now open!  Program requests for applications will be announced in Tech Today beginning in mid-March, with applications for these annual awards due March 31, 2014 by noon (EST). Fellowship recipients will conduct a research project under the guidance of a Michigan Tech Department of Biomedical Engineering faculty mentor, during the summer semester. Fellowship recipients will be required to:

  • Submit a final progress report of their work and/or evidence clearly showing the work has contributed significantly to a work being prepared for peer-reviewed publication.
  • Present their research in poster or oral form, preferably at a nationally recognized research meeting or the University BRC research forum, or the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Research Forum.

Application process:

Each applicant should submit the following (Incomplete applications at the deadline will not be considered):

  1. Application Coversheet (pick up in Biomed main office MM309, or email malabeau@mtu for a copy)
  2. Project Description (2-page limit, 12-pt font- Arial, ¾-inch margins)
  3. Faculty mentor letter of support
  1. Application Coversheet. Completed coversheet should be included with each application.
  1. Project Description. Project description should be prepared with (not by) a faculty mentor, and at a minimum address the following regarding the proposed project:
    1. Motivation and Significance
    2. Specific objectives, hypotheses, and aims
    3. Brief description of the work that will be done to specifically address aims
    4. Time-line for work to be completed

The Project Description is limited to 2 pages (12-pt font, Arial, ¾-inch margins minimum) and is to be submitted as a PDF file. You may include graphs, images and tables as needed. A separate page may be used for references as needed. All references however must be cited in the text of the project description.

  1. Faculty mentor Letter of support. Letters of support should at the minimum address the following:
    1. How long have you known the student and in what capacity?
    2. Why do you think the student is likely to succeed in the project?
    3. Where does the student’s project fit into your overall research program?

To submit application, email a PDF file that includes both the Application Coversheet and Project Description to Judy Schaefer ( Ask your faculty mentor to email the letter of support to the same address.

Lecture: New Frontiers in the Pharmaceutical and Medical Sciences

College of Engineering Distinguished Speakers Series: “New Frontiers in the Pharmaceutical and Medical Sciences: Advanced Intelligent Hydrogels for Treatment of Diabetes, Cancer and Multiple Sclerosis” Nicholas A. Peppas, Sc.D.
Fletcher Stuckey Pratt Chair in Engineering, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Pharmacy, Chairman, Biomedical Engineering Department, Director of Center on Biomaterials, Drug Delivery, and Bionanotechnology, The University of Texas at Austin; Thursday, March 7 at 4 pm—Great Lakes Research Center Room 202
More details

Video of Nicholas A. Peppas Lecture “New Frontiers in the Pharmaceutical and Medical Sciences” on Michigan Tech Engineering Channel on Vimeo

BME Alum in the News

Jennifer Dehlin ‘2001 – BS, Biomedical Engineering has been appointed to the Michigan Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee by Gov. Rick Snyder. The 11- member board advises the MI Dept. of  Community Health on issues affecting prescription drug coverage for its various health care programs.

Jennifer Dehlin, of Marquette, is a family physician with Marquette General Hospital and associate medical director of Lake Superior Hospice.  She is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Marquette Alger Medical Society executive board. Dehlin received a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Michigan Technological University and a medical degree from the University of Michigan.

New NIH Funding

Research funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (NIH) continues to grow in the BME Department.

Dr. Michael Neuman, Full Professor of Biomedical Engineering, recently received funding from the NIH in the amount of $109,724 for the first year of a two year project totaling $218,754.  The title of the research project is “A low cost cardiac annunciator to reduce stillbirths and neonatal deaths.”

Dr. Rupak Rajachar, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Dr. Keat Ghee Ong, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, received funding from the NIH to conduct a research project titled “Novel nano-mechanical platform to investigate therapeutic sub-cellular mechanical stimulation.”  This is a two year project totaling $148,783.