Park’s study featured as a frontispiece in Macromolecular Bioscience

Dr. Park’s study in Bioengineering, titled “Substantial differentiation of human neural stem cells into motor neurons on a biomimetic polyurea (DOI: 10.1002/mabi.201570032)”, was featured as a frontispiece in Macromolecular Bioscience. In this study, graduate student Melissa Laughter in Park’s group created natural protein-like synthetic polyurea, showing great potential for the treatment of central nervous system injury. Macromolecular Bioscience is ranked among the top 10 biomaterials and polymer journals, dealing with the intersection of polymer and materials science with life science and medicine.


Carpenter receives VA grant to establish a Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center

Carpenter (9-12)-WEBDana Carpenter, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and a team of researchers, led by Bob Schwartz and Wendy Kohrt in the CU School of Medicine’s Division of Geriatrics, recently received a grant from the Veteran’s Administration (VA) to establish a Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) at the new VA hospital in Aurora.

As part of getting the new center up and running, there was a call for proposals for pilot studies on research topics important to the veteran population. Carpenter is part of a team–the PI is Rebecca Boxer, Division of Geriatrics; he is a co-Investigator along with Wendy Kohrt and Sarah Wherry, also from the Division of Geriatrics–that was awarded funds for a pilot study investigating the effects of different types of exercise on bone strength. They will compare exercise programs that use a “ground reaction force” approach, like walking and jogging, to exercises that use a “joint reaction force” approach, like rowing and weight training. They will use image-based bone strength analysis to determine the effects of each type of exercise on the bones of the hip and spine, and they hope to find an optimal exercise program for reducing the risk of fractures in older veterans and older adults in general.


Darbeheshti named ESSC director

Maryam Darbeheshti, advisor and assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has accepted the position of director of the Engineering Student Services Center (ESSC). Maryam will be responsible for improving the quality and uniformity of services offered to our students as we expand the ESSC with two new CTT/advisor hires this fall. Congratulations, Maryam!

VanDijk named BIOE director of student services

Angela VanDijk, who has served as the bioengineering undergraduate program coordinator and advisor since 2013, is the Department of Bioengineering’s new Director of Student Services. In this newly created role, Angela will oversee all degree program operations and is responsible for organizing and managing student recruitment, retention and engagement activities. She will work closely with staff, faculty, and other individuals across our campuses to ensure that bioengineering students receive the guidance and support they need to be successful in their given programs.

Angela comes to us with more than 15 years of experience in student and academic affairs. Prior to moving to Colorado she lived in New York City where she served as an Assistant Dean in the Division of Student Affairs at Columbia University and more recently as the Acting Director of Advising Services at the City University of New York’s Hunter College.

In an effort to support students on both the CU Denver and CU Anschutz Medical Campuses, Angela will maintain two office locations. She invites students to email her at or call 303-724-9972 to inquire about her schedule or to make an appointment.

Please join the bioengineering department in welcoming Angela as she transitions into this role.  We know she will do a great job but also would appreciate your patience as she fits into her new responsibilities.

Electrical engineering department receives funding from Qualcomm

Qualcomm is funding a University of Colorado Denver project, “Accelerating Visual Computing Algorithms for Enhanced 3D Sensing,” lead by Dan Connors, assistant professor of electrical engineering. The $30,000 grant from Qualcomm will support student research in designing next-generation mobile processor architectures.

The core objective of the project is to explore energy efficient algorithms that can overcome the power dissipation issues of mobile platforms. Traditional mobile processors scale poorly when attempting to emulate human vision functions, and thus a novel smart architecture is necessary to enable real-time analysis with limited constraints. The proposed work enables the investigation of smart architectures that use all silicon resources (CPU, GPU and DSP) to enable human-like understanding. A component of the work will extend the group’s current framework for approximate parallel computing (APC) that allows a programmer to dynamically govern the execution of parallel tasks within processor resources with respect to specific algorithm, data, and machine characteristics.

The funded project builds on existing momentum and success of Connors’ research group in embedded systems and computer engineering. Specifically, in May, Connors lead a team of electrical engineering students to win first place in the Intel Cornell Cup Embedded Design Competition with a 3D vision system capable of executing a 3D Simultaneous Localization And Mapping (SLAM) algorithm for unmanned vehicles. Qualcomm also hired Skyler Saleh, BS ’15, as a full-time engineer based on his work on the project.

CEM program receives $3M grant from CDOT

Faculty members from the Construction Engineering and Management program are part of a local industry-academia collaborative team that has been awarded a nearly $3 million grant by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). The grant, entitled, “Project Management Employee Development Program (PMEDP)” was given notice to proceed this month and will support a three-year project that seeks to “enhance CDOT’s project management techniques, practices, and applications through a comprehensive blended and integrated employee development program in order to reinforce a culture of project management within CDOT.”

CU Denver is partnering with LS Gallegos & Associates Inc. and AECOM on the project. The CEM program is excited to serve as the lead on one of the largest program elements, Training Course Implementation. The CEM program is confident such work, as highlighted in the proposal, will solidify the fact that “In the past CDOT has had a close working relationship with CU Denver. This program will provide the opportunity to continue that relationship to the benefit of CDOT and CU Denver.”

Benninger receives $3.5M in NIH research grants to study diabetes

?????????Richard Benninger, Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering, has been awarded two NIH Research Project (R01) grants from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). These two grants are to the amount of $1,749,375 and $1,749,375 in total costs, each over 5 years. Each research project grant focuses on studying the islets of Langerhans and their dysfunction in different forms of diabetes. Diabetes, a disease that afflicts close to 400M people world-wide, is characterized by a loss of glucose homeostasis which can lead to many diabetic complications including blindness, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and limb amputations. Almost all cases of diabetes results from dysfunction to the insulin secreting beta cells in the islets of Langerhans, leading to insufficient secretion of the hormone insulin which regulates blood glucose homeostasis. Most treatments for diabetes therefore aim to prevent, restore or replace the disrupted secretion of insulin.

The first R01-funded project entitled “Emergent multi-cellular properties regulating pancreatic islet function” will apply quantitative fluorescence microscopy approaches, optogenetics and computational modelling to examine the cell signaling dynamics underlying insulin secretion from the islets of Langerhans. Specifically this project will focus on characterizing functional sub-populations of beta cells and determining how specific subpopulations of cells can exert disproportionate control over multiple functions of the islet through coupled dynamic processes; in healthy conditions and diabetic conditions caused by single gene mutations.

The second R01-funded project entitled “Multicellular interactions and dynamics of pancreatic islet function in diabetes” will examine dysfunction to the islets of Langerhans and regulation of insulin secretion during the progression of type2 diabetes. Specifically this project will focus on the important role of gap junction channels which mediate electrical communication between insulin-secreting beta cells. This includes characterizing the role of gap junction channel disruption in islet dysfunction during the progression of type2 diabetes, and determining ways gap junction coupling can be modulated to prevent the decline in beta cell mass and recover glucose-stimulated insulin secretion.

Together these projects will examine different ways that the function of the islets of Langerhans are disrupted in diabetes and discover strategies in which islet function can be restored; towards developing new treatments for different forms of diabetes.

Year-End Celebration Slideshow and Recap

The fourth annual College of Engineering and Applied Science Year-End Celebration took place on Friday, May 15, at Ninth Street Park on the Auraria Campus. Nearly 200 people from the college community attended the event and enjoyed delicious food, a photobooth, badminton, a visit from Milo the Lynx, and a lively awards ceremony. Check out the slideshow below, and mark your calendars for May 13, 2016 for next year’s Celebration.

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Park Awarded 3rd NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research (R21) Grant


Daewon Park, assistant professor of bioengineering, received an R21 grant from the National Eye Institute with his research titled “A Functional Reverse Thermal Gel for Retinal Ganglion Cell Axon Regeneration.” With this grant, Dr. Park will develop a bioinspired neurotrophic factor-releasing system for the regeneration of damaged retinal ganglion cell axon. This research will provide a platform of material-based treatment methodology of neural protection and regeneration.


Adam Rauff awarded Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) grant

Bioengineering undergraduate student, Adam Rauff was awarded a 2015-2016 Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) grant. Adam will be working with Dana Carpenter, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, on a project titled, “Investigating the Effects of Weight-Bearing Function on Bone Microstructure.” The research delves into the function of osteocytes (mature bone cells) and their mechanosensory properties. Osteocytes perform bone remodeling based on the strains of the skeletal system, however the process of sensing and reacting to mechanical pressures remains illusive. The remodeling phenomenon occurs in all vertebrates, and there will be multiple animals compared in the experiments (in vitro). This property of osteocytes could improve understanding of osteoporosis, bone loss due to mechanical unloading (as observed in astronauts losing bone mass, or an individual that is suddenly confined to a wheel chair). Furthermore, this research could improve understanding of the bone remodeling that every human experiences as they age, and their bones become more brittle and sensitive (especially in women). Congratulations, Adam!