On Thursday afternoon, numerous poster boards lined the walls of Rosenfeld Hall for the first-ever Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Research Day.
The symposium was created in order to introduce the field of biomedical engineering to undergraduates, particularly first years and sophomores less familiar with the interdisciplinary field. The event, which drew 30 people, featured current research in several Yale biomedical engineering labs, as well as an opportunity for undergraduates to connect with both graduate and undergraduate researchers.
The event began with a series of “lightning presentations,” during which five graduate students — who served as representatives of their labs — each gave an overview of their laboratory’s current research. They showcased research projects ranging from tissue engineering to creating “dopamine movies” — recordings of dopamine activity in the brain using scanning technology.
“I think this event and other social events are great for bringing people together and launching the scientific career of undergrads early,” said Hao Xing GRD ’22, a third-year biomedical engineering student in the Kyriakides Lab.
After the presentations, the attendees were given an opportunity to visit the research posters set up around the room and speak with graduate students from the different labs. Undergraduates were encouraged to visit at least three lab representatives in order to be entered into a raffle.
Xing noted that the posters enabled the students to better understand the labs’ projects and interact with the graduate students.
Several undergraduate students also utilized the symposium to determine which lab they were most interested in so they could connect with possible graduate mentors.
“[The symposium] has helped me figure out which lab I want to email and connect with,” said attendee Ashley Qin ’22.
Finally, the student Q-and-A panel provided undergraduates with advice on how to find research mentors and principal investigators.
The panel, largely made up of seniors who had worked in various labs for several semesters, allowed younger undergraduates to gain insight from those who had already gone through similar academic paths. The student panelists also detailed their experiences with the biomedical engineering major and their postgraduate plans.
Jenette Creso GRD ’23 and Zach Marin GRD ’23, biomedical engineering graduate students and members of Yale’s Graduate Student Assembly, said they organized the event to give undergraduates an earlier look into the field of biomedical engineering.
“I think a lot of people just don’t have the right avenue to get their foot in the door,” said Creso, chair of the Graduate Student Assembly Facilities and Healthcare Committee.
Creso and Marin noted that first years may not have enough information about the field or even recognize that research can be a career option. So, they explained, they developed the idea of the symposium last year to address this lack of knowledge.
“It’s supposed to be an exposure event for students who are undeclared or have declared something like biomedical or some sort of engineering, and they just don’t know what they want to do yet,” Creso explained. “They’ve started that second-year seminar, so they’re getting a little bit more of an introduction to it than they were before, but I feel like this is a very casual setting where they can actually talk to undergraduate researchers.”
With the support of the engineering department, Creso and Marin intend to continue hosting the event in future years. They said anyone interested in biomedical research should come, even if they are not planning to be biomedical engineers.
“Biomedical engineering is a really collaborative kind of field. You need technicians, you need biologists, you need all of these people coming together,” Creso said.
Jessica Pevner contributed reporting.
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