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Bioengineering welcomes new faculty

by Kate Hoch

The Department of Bioengineering is pleased to announce Morris Huang, PhD, and Arjun Fontaine, PhD, as our newest faculty members.    

Dr. Huang joined the department October 1st as Assistant Research Professor.  Prior to this, Dr. Huang began his postdoctoral training with the Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering (CIDE) in 2018 under the mentorship of Dr. Cathy Bodine.  Morris received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in biology at the University of New Mexico in 2012, and completed his PhD in bioengineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2017.  Dr. Huang’s doctoral work focused on developing a wheelchair-propelling robot and other standardized test methods for evaluating manual wheelchair performance.   

Currently, Dr. Huang runs the Assistive Technology for Mobility (ATM) lab housed under CIDE, with the goal of empowering informed assistive technology (AT) selection by developing empirical methods, measurement tools, and testbeds to quantify AT performance.  He also conducts research in the form of product usability testing for users with disabilities, and teaches a human factors and usability testing course for bioengineers.  Dr. Huang’s interests lie in prototyping, test method development, and human factors, with a focus in assistive technology.  In his spare time, he enjoys playing basketball, hiking, cooking, and solving puzzles (especially escape rooms). 

Dr. Fontaine joined the department November 1st as Assistant Research Professor, after completing his fellowship under mentor Richard Weir, PhD.    

Dr. Fontaine is a Colorado native who, after graduating from the University of Colorado Boulder with a degree in mechanical engineering, was compelled to continue in biological sciences. While he considered medical school, he decided research would allow him to be exposed to the medical sciences he desired without abandoning his prior training. Our department of Bioengineering was particularly intriguing since we are located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, and Dr. Fontaine believed it was “a perfect melding of these two worlds – the quantitative engineering with the medical realm.” 

With his interest in working at the intersection of biology and engineering, he began down the road of prosthesis-related research at the Biomechatronic Development Laboratory where he studied the biological/neural interface facet of prosthesis, neurobiology, optogenetics, and biomedical optics. As a post-doctoral fellow, his research focused on the prospect that intervention within nerves of the viscera may offer unique therapeutic approaches.  Dr. Fontaine believes that “being better able to understand and interface with the peripheral nervous system will increasingly show clinical benefit in the years to come.” 

Dr. Fontaine currently has his sights set on expanding in this area of work as a research faculty and has “some exciting domains on the horizon in which we’ll be investigating autonomic nerve pathways as treatment targets for inflammation and PTSD.” During his time at CU, he’s been involved in many exciting interdisciplinary projects in different labs across campus.  

Recently, Dr. Fontaine was awarded his first R21 entitled “A 3D-Printed Nerve Cuff for 1-Photon Optogenetic Vagal Stimulation” with Co-PI Dr. Weir. Additionally, his VA SPiRE grant was also funded for the investigation of optogenetic vagus nerve stimulation in post-traumatic stress disorder. With Dr. Fontaine graduating from our first cohort of Ph.D. students and becoming the first of our alumni to receive independent grant funding in our department we couldn’t be more excited for Arjun’s successes! 

When not hard at work in the lab, Dr. Fontaine enjoys playing tennis, reading, and adventuring around Colorado.  

Congratulations, Drs. Huang and Fontaine! 

CU Denver Engineering, Design and Computing View All

At the CU Denver College of Engineering, Design and Computing, we focus on providing our students with a comprehensive engineering education at the undergraduate, graduate and professional level. Faculty conduct research that spans our five disciplines of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, bioengineering, and computer science and engineering. The college collaborates with industry from around the state; our laboratories and research opportunities give students the hands-on experience they need to excel in the professional world.

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