CU Denver bioengineering student to participate in American Physiological Society (APS) Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship (UGSRF)

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 3.53.33 PMRachelle Walter, an undergraduate in the Department of Bioengineering at CU Denver, will be participating in the American Physiological Society (APS) Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship (UGSRF) this summer of 2014.

The APS funds 24 undergraduate students in this program to do research for a 10-week period over the summer. It is designed to introduce students to a scientific research career where each student works on his/her own research question in an established APS investigator laboratory. Rachelle Walter will be working in Dr. Richard Benninger’s lab at the Anschutz Medical Campus to study islet dysfunction and changes in gap junction coupling in the pancreas due to pro-inflammatory cytokines. This study is important to learn more about the early stages of development in Type I and Type II Diabetes and could potentially lead to therapeutic targets to inhibit or delay development of diabetes. In addition, Rachelle will also receive a travel grant to next year’s APS annual Experimental Biology meeting in Boston, MA in order to present her research data.

Rachelle is looking forward to this amazing experience to gain more knowledge about research and also contribute to the advancement of Medicine.

Engineering colleagues awarded NIH grant to develop spinal cages

Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professors Christopher Yakacki and Dana Carpenter have received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award (R21) to develop spinal cages.

Yakacki and Carpenter have partnered to establish the Smart Materials and Biomechanics Lab to discover new biomedical materials and to investigate uses for biomedical devices.

This new funding of more than $348,000 is supported by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. It is for their project “Porous, Patient Specific Interbody Fusion Cages with Enhanced Loading Characteristics to Reduce Subsidence”

The research interests of these colleagues complement one another: Yakacki studies the materials used to build devices, and Carpenter uses imaging techniques to create models of the devices and test their functionality.

To obtain a clinical perspective, the pair also collaborates with colleagues in the CU School of Medicine. Vikas Patel, associate professor in orthopaedics, and Andriy Noshchenko, a research assistant in orthopaedics, play an integral part in
the development of these devices. As the “end users”, their perspective is key to developing a successful, useful product.

Typically, spinal cages are made with titanium, carbon fiber epoxy or grafted tissue from a donor. However, Yakacki has found a polymer called polyparaphenylene that maintains strength when made into a porous material.

Through digital models of the spine, Carpenter is able to determine load distributions, and then uses imaging software to insert the device into the modeled spine to see how it will work.

The researchers say with this approach, they can simulate the amount of bone that will be absorbed, the mechanics of the bone and how it will interact with the device – over time.

ASCE Steel Bridge Team wins at regional conference


The 2014 CU Denver ASCE Steel Bridge Team.


Fernando Molina receives the first place award for mystery design.

On April 3 – 5, the CU Denver ASCE Steel Bridge Team competed in the  at Colorado State University.
Please join me in congratulating them for wins in two categories:

  • 1st Place in Mystery Design (to student Fernando Molina)
  • 2nd place in Steel Bridge Display (to the Steel Bridge Team)

This year’s ASCE Steel Bridge Team was headed by Justin Dorough, with participation at the Prince Appiah, Jimmy Botsonis, Peter Botsonis,
Christopher Florence, Ronson Fox, Omer Karaketir, Doron Levary, Fernando Molina, Brian Vines, Christopher Shipman, Rajan Parajuli, and Nate Parker.

Well done team!



Denver Post features new Bioscience 2 Building

New building on Fitzsimons campus will house CU bioengineering students

By Megan Mitchell
YourHub Reporter

The University of Colorado Denver and the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority are ready to begin construction on the 578-acre health campus’ second medical research incubator building, Bioscience 2.

“This is our first, real collaboration with CU,” said Steve VanNurden,  president and CEO of the FRA, which was formed in 1996. “We meet every week to work on the design and final details. This project has been in the works for six or seven years.”

Crews are working on the 112,000-square-foot Bioscience 2 building at East Montview Boulevard and North Troy Street after the groundbreaking Wednesday.

Li named Assistant Dean of International Education

Cheng Yu LiProfessor Chengyu Li has been offered and accepted the position of Assistant Dean of International Education.  This is an important position in the college as we try to grow several collaborations with international universities. As many of you know, Professor Li has been instrumental in the development of the 3+1+1 program with the Northeast Forestry University. He is currently negotiating MOUs with two additional Chinese universities to develop similar programs.  Please join the college in congratulating Professor Li.

Emily Gibson receives Butcher Seed Grant Award

Emily Gibson, PhDEmily Gibson, assistant professor in bioengineering, is one of seven recipients of the 2014 Butcher Seed Grant Awards for her proposal, “Optimized deep-brain imaging of activity in over a hundred neurons for imaging seizures.”

The Butcher Symposium began in 2002 as a grassroots effort to bring together scientists from across the CU system to create collaborations and share data. Butcher Seed Grants were awarded in 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2012 to fund potentially transformative new scientific pilot projects that required researchers with different expertise to work together to address critical challenges in the biosciences.

Alumna Karen Maestas honored as the ACEC-CO 2014 Outstanding Woman in Engineering


Karen Maestas, P.E., URS Corporation, honored as ACEC Colorado’s 2014 Outstanding Woman in Engineering, is congratulated by ACEC Colorado President Greg Roush.

DENVER – The American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado (ACEC/CO) recently presented top engineering awards to outstanding Colorado engineers who have demonstrated exemplary leadership and commitment to advancing consulting engineering.

Karen Maestas, P.E., URS Corporation, was honored as the 2014 Outstanding Woman in Engineering. The prestigious award recognizes an outstanding woman in a leadership position for professional achievements in the engineering profession and who is a visible role model for young engineers.

Maestas manages a complex portfolio of mine reclamation projects that has grown annually from approximately $500,000 in 2007 to more than $8 million in 2013.  These projects involve a myriad of state and federal requirements and a host of technical and implementation challenges. Using her expert technical abilities, management and communication skills, and thorough understanding of business operations, she leads a large, diverse technical team that provides a wide range of turnkey services for these multi-state mine sites. Her ability to lead multiple, concurrent and interconnected technical projects and to communicate effectively about complex technical subjects in a way that is accessible to the public are hallmarks of her career.

Looking to the future, under her leadership URS has been working with a university to test a biological treatment method to address elevated sulfate levels present in acid rock drainage at a mine site. Maestas’ team is also experimenting with spent brewer’s grain, ordinarily a waste product of beer brewing, as a carbon source, which is a promising “green” alternative for mine water cleanup. As an active community member, she also promotes math and science education through speaking engagements to students at elementary schools to higher education.

“It is such an honor to be recognized as outstanding in my profession,” said Maestas. “Solving problems is something I love to do, and throughout my career, I have certainly dealt with many challenging situations.  Being involved in successful environmental cleanups is one of the most gratifying parts of my job.  It’s amazing to see technology in action.

“I’ve had great mentors over the years, both men and women.  When I graduated from college more than 20 years ago, about one in five engineers was a woman, and that has not really changed much in the last two decades.  I encourage more women to pursue careers in engineering and science – it is great work that is challenging, interesting and rewarding,” she emphasized.

Maestas earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Geological Engineering from Colorado School of Mines in 1991 and her Master of Science in Civil Engineering from University of Colorado at Denver in 2001.

Additionally, Charles Keyes, P.E., Martine/Martin, Inc., recipient of the Council’s George Washington Award, which is presented to an ACEC/CO member who has provided outstanding service to the community, contributed to the progress of Colorado and the advancement of the public image of the consulting engineering profession.  Dan Phipps, P.E., Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, was honored as ACEC ‘s 2014 Young Professional in Engineering, which promotes the accomplishments of young engineers who are advancing the consulting engineering profession.


The American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado (ACEC/CO) is the business association of 235 member firms employing more than 10,000 employees in the independent private practice of consulting engineering. ACEC/CO is a primary resource for accessing engineering information, expertise and business ethics practices.  The Council provides leadership and direction by developing practical, feasible options and solutions based upon technical collaboration to achieve enduring outcomes to benefit society.

Vu receives Google Research Award

TamVuTam Vu, assistant professor in computer science and engineering, is the recipient of a Google Research Award, a one-year award to support the work of faculty at top universities around the world. According to the Google award website, “The intent of the Google Research Awards is to support cutting-edge research in computer science, engineering and related fields, including public policies, geographical maps, economics and market algorithms.”

This award fosters the collaboration between Google and the Mobile and Networked System Lab in Department of Computer Science, and it will support an ongoing project called “One Ring To Rule Them All,” which aims at providing a ubiquitous solution for user identification and authentication through a novel communication technique called Capacitive Touchscreen Communication. This method exploits the pervasive capacitive touchscreens found in today’s electronic devices such as laptops, phones, etc., as a receiver for decoding identification and authentication information transmitted from custom-designed human wearable hardware tokens, such as a ring or a watch. The end goal is to unify all forms of authentication tokens, including credit cards, phone SIM cards, car keys, etc, into a single ring.

Congratulations, Tam!

The list of previously awarded faculties can be found here.