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Biomedical Engineering

Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Opportunities

The combination of our established BME department and the immediate proximity of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center provides a tremendous wealth of opportunities for student involvement in research. Undergraduate research can enhance an engineering student's education and experiences outside the classroom. The School of Engineering highly recommends students actively seek out opportunities in various areas of interest in order to gain valuable skills and knowledge in research fields.

Research-active faculty members often allow undergraduate students to work in their labs as student workers, technicians, or assistants. Each lab could have very different requirements regarding academic performance or pre-requisite knowledge. Knowledge, skills, and abilities may vary significantly across departments and laboratories. Requisite knowledge will also vary greatly by project, by lab, by professor, and by department. Most faculty members will expect you to produce a periodic document and/or make a presentation to present your hypotheses, results, and conclusions.

If you are interested in a research position in a VU BME lab:

  1. Read about various research areas and projects (a list of example labs is included below, but this list is not exhaustive) to determine which topics you are most passionate about. You may also search biomedical engineering faculty members and read about their research foci.
  2. Once you have determined what topics or labs you are most interested in, contact the professor who runs the lab or their graduate students to see if there are any available undergraduate positions in their lab. Faculty members are usually interested in highly motivated students who actively seek employment.
  3. If you have not heard back from a contact within a couple of weeks, you may send one follow up email. If there is no response after the follow up email, you may conclude that that particular lab does not have any undergraduate positions available at the time, and you may consider contacting other faculty members or graduate students.

Students may seek out research opportunities at any point in their undergraduate career beginning in the freshman year on a voluntary basis. However, this involvement can occur through elective courses only in their junior (generally spring) and senior year. Up to three credit hours (total) of Undergraduate Research, BME 3860/3861 (240A/B) may count as a BME elective; an additional three hours of BME 3860/3861 may be used as a Technical elective. Note that to receive BME credit, the research project must be a BME type research project.

Dr. Sung and student BME type research project

List of BME Labs

Additionally, many BME students work in Vanderbilt University Medical Center Labs such as the following:

Getting involved in a Medical Center works similarly to BME labs as students should find research that they are interested in and contact the lab to see if positions are available. The above list represents only a small sample of labs; students may explore various departments and centers associated with VUMC and VU to learn about additional research.

Research Do’s and Don’ts

 Do’s  Don’ts
 …contact professors working on research that you are genuinely interested in  …contact a professor researching biomaterials if you really just want to work in biophotonics
 …behave professionally by letting professors know if you are in contact with multiple labs  …email every single lab in the above lists simultaneously
 ...use research as an opportunity to enhance your education and experiences outside of the classroom and gain valuable skills and knowledge in research fields  …get involved with research purely to boost your resume