Biomedical Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Amy Curry

Faculty Mentor's Department: Biomedical Engineering

Phone/Email: 901.678.2017;

Project Description: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening heart disorder that affects two million people each year in the US alone. In AF, the two small upper chambers of the heart, the atria, quiver and are not able to effectively pump blood out of the chambers. Blood clots are likely to form in the atria. The clots can leave the atria and can ultimately become lodged in an artery in the brain and cause a stroke. Approximately 15% of all strokes occur in patients with AF. In patients with atrial fibrillation, defibrillation therapy is often given in the form of a strong electric shock to revert the atria back to normal activity. The electric shock is delivered to the patient through two electrodes placed on the chest. We have previously developed a physiologically realistic computer model of the human torso for simulating defibrillation. The goal of this project is to use our existing computer model to simulate atrial defibrillation. Specifically, we will explore new electrode placements to determine the configuration that can defibrillate with the lowest shock energy. This will require the student to work with both PC and UNIX workstations. The student will: (1) develop and visualize new electrode placements with computer graphics, and (2) input the new electrode placements into the computer model to calculate defibrillation shock energy.

Requirements for Student Applicants: Please send resume to Some experience with MATLAB required. The student will be trained to use existing programs.
Starting Date: anytime

Method of Compensation (Volunteer, Academic Credit, or Stipend): Volunteer, Academic Credit, or Stipend depending on funding availability.

 Faculty Mentor: Dr. Amy Abell

Faculty Mentor's Department: Biology and Biomedical Engineering


Project Description: The Abell lab uses stem cells to define the signaling/gene expression networks controlling the conversion of stationary epithelial stem cells to motile mesenchymal cells. This epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a key biological process during normal development that is reactivated in several pathologies including organ fibrosis and cancer metastasis. One goal of this research is to identify novel master regulators of EMT and the reverse process MET. This information will be used in designing new strategies for regenerative medicine and the treatment of EMT related pathologies. Projects in the lab use molecular, cellular and embryological tools to identify regulators of EMT. Student projects are dependent on previous knowledge and experience, and include tissue culture of genetically altered stem cells, isolation of RNA, preparation of cDNA, measurement of gene expression changes, isolation and separation of protein, and measurement of protein levels and activity.

Requirements for Student Applicants: Interested applicants should apply directly to Dr. Abell at Please include a resume and a paragraph about your research interests and goals. Applicants must have completed General Biology II (BIOL 1120/1121). Completion of Cell Biology (BIOL 3130) is preferred. Preference will be given to applicants interested in working at least six hours per week in the lab.

Starting Date: anytime, positions are available for summer, fall, and spring semester research.

Method of Compensation: Volunteer, Academic Credit, or Stipend depending on level of ability and training. Two hours of academic credit up to five credit hours is possible. Academic credit is obtained through enrollment in BIOL 4000 or BIOL 4001 with permission of the faculty mentor. Each credit hour is equal to three hours of laboratory time.