Westacott receives Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (Parent F31)

Matthew Westacott, a PhD student in bioengineering mentored by Richard Benninger has been awarded a F31 pre-doctoral fellowship by the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Matthews project titled “Examination of Functional Subpopulations in the Islet of Langerhans Using Optogenetics” will use light-activated ion channels to precisely control and understand the spatiotemporal regulation of electrical activity within the islets of Langerhans. Matthew will specifically study how subpopulations of β-cells exert disproportionate control over the system electrical dynamics and insulin release, and how this  control is disrupted under diabetic conditions.


Year-End Celebration recap

On May 13, more than 250 faculty, students, staff, alumni and guests attended the fifth annual College of Engineering and Applied Science Year-End Celebration. Guests enjoyed a catered BBQ lunch, photobooth, badminton, and an awards ceremony.

We look forward to seeing everyone at the 2017 event, scheduled for May 12, 2017.

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Erickson awarded CCTSI pre-doctoral fellowship for translational research on treatment for growth plate injuries

Chris Erickson, a second year bioengineering PhD student, was awarded the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI) TL-1 Pre-doctoral Fellowship for his proposed thesis work on treating growth plate injuries. The growth plate is a cartilaginous region found at the ends of long bones in children, and is responsible for bone elongation. Injury to the growth plate from trauma or disease in the young child can result in bone growth abnormalities. Unfortunately, there is no clinical treatment that can fully correct these injuries, which may result in skeletal deformities that persist throughout life. However, tissue engineering offers a promising alternative treatment by using stem cells, biologics, and biomimetic materials to regenerate the injured growth plate. Chris will be investigating a tissue engineering approach to treating growth plate injuries under the mentorship of Dr. Karin Payne, a basic scientist in orthopedic regenerative medicine, and Dr. Nancy Hadley-Miller, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Support by this scientist-physician team and the CCTSI will help advance the translation of basic science discoveries into clinical treatments.

Elson awarded CCTSI TL1 Fellowship for her proposed research into an optogenetic neural interface for users of prosthetic limbs

laura elsonBioengineering PhD student Laura Elson was awarded the CCTSI TL1 Fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year for her proposed research into an optogenetic neural interface for users of prosthetic limbs. This design uses optical proteins to connect the mechanical limb with the peripheral nervous system that can provide both sensory feedback and motor output to the user. Currently, in vitro tests are being conducted, and ultimately in vivo tests will be performed in rodents. Through this fellowship she will also be afforded the opportunity to gain clinical experience in two settings: the Assistive Technology Partners Clinic headed by Dr. Cathy Bodine, and the Amputee Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado, headed by Dr. Travis Heare.

Four faculty awarded tenure

The University of Colorado Board of Regents approved tenure for four College of Engineering and Applied Science faculty:

  • Caroline Clevenger, civil engineering
  • Dan Connors, electrical engineering
  • Yiming Deng, electrical engineering
  • Jaedo Park, electrical engineering

The also announced the appointment of Jeffrey Jacot, who will join the Department of Bioengineering on July 1 as an associate professor.

Congratulations and kudos for your hard work.

 left to right: Clevenger, Connors, Deng and Park

For a complete list of June 2016 tenure awards across the CU system, read the June 30 issue of CU Connections.


Cristin Welle, PhD Receives Boettcher Webb-Waring Biomedical Research Award

Cristin WelleDevelopment of high-density neural sensors for bioelectronics therapeutics

Closed-loop neurotherapuetic devices utilizing high-density recording electrode arrays will bring a new era to the treatment of neurological and neuropsychatric disorders. Such devices have the potential to detect and interrupt seizures before they occur, provide dynamic calibration of deep brain stimulation based on the patient’s neural activity and produce extremely high-fidelity auditory and visual perceptions in deaf and blind patients. However, improved understanding of the long-term performance of the device materials and of the biological sequelae of chronic implantation of high-density arrays is needed to overcome current limitations in device longevity. Through the use of volumetric tissue clearing, chronic electrophysiology, in vivo two-photon imaging of neural structure and function, the effect of high density electrodes on neural circuits will be investigated. These experiments will clarify the role of electrode materials and structure on the success of high-density neural sensors, and pave the way for development of the next generation of neural interface technology.

Students Shine at Spring Senior Design

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Photo credit: Kate Seppala Photography

On Friday, May 13, 24 teams participated in the Spring 2016 Senior Design Competition and Open House. Nearly 100 students from civil engineering, computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and the College of Architecture and Planning showcased their capstone projects in the North Classroom Atrium. Projects ranged from the design of a new museum for the Denver Police Department to a solar powered boat. Teams presented to a panel of eight industry judges, competing for cash prizes.

The overall winner of the event was Hand Gesture Recognition in Real-time via 3-D Printed Capacitive Wristband from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Departmental winners included:

The event also hosted a group of 60 eighth grade students from Clyde Miller K-8 in Aurora. The students spent an hour meeting with the teams, asking questions about each project, and working on a scavenger hunt.

The Senior Design event is made possible each semester by donors Donald and Karen White.

CEM program tours RK Mechanical and VA hospital

IMG_0894On 15 April, the CEM program spent the day in the field, taking 38 students and five faculty/staff to two educational locations.  First we toured RK Mechanical contractor’s fabrication facility in Henderson, CO.  The tour included an overview on how the company uses state-of-the-art technology to improve quality and efficiency through manufacture of construction components in a controlled facility. We also toured the facility and RK Mechanical provided lunch and hardhats for everyone.

The second part of the day was spent at the new VA hospital project touring the huge, complex facility.  The students appreciated the real world exposure to the life cycle of a construction project from drawings to installation to operation.

2016 ASCE Student Conference a Success

Last month, the CU Denver Student Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), in partnership with Metropolitan State University of Denver, hosted the 2016 Rocky Mountain Student Conference. Over the three-day event, 440 people attended from 14 schools across five states.

One event, the Steel Bridge Competition, was held at the Auraria campus with two construction lanes, one lateral pull test station, and two vertical loading stations. The Concrete Canoe Races were held at Soda Lake in Lakewood and included sprints, team paddles, and other fun activities taking place throughout the day.

Congratulations to our Student Chapter of ASCE on an event well done!