News Archive

BME Senior Highlighted as Standout UA Grad

Fermin Prieto, BME Senior - Class of 2017Biomedical engineering major Fermin Prieto was recently one of seven members of the Class of 2017 highlighted by the University of Arizona for his academic and personal accomplishments.

Arriving in the United States as a teen, he overcame a language barrier to excel in math and science. As a UA student, Prieto served as president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

After graduation, he aims to continue serving the Hispanic community – particularly those in rural areas – as a physician. He has been accepted into five medical schools.

BME Students Showcase Ethics, Creativity at Engineering Design Day 2017

Team 16055 with sponsors, Jeffrey and Herma BristolOn May 1, at Engineering Design Day 2017, BME seniors played roles in a variety of projects ranging from an improved feeding tube sensor to an automated macadamia nut harvester.

Seniors Martin Galaz, Jason Keatseangsilp (team lead), Amanda Koiki and Thomas Valenzuela spent more than 500 manhours developing, constructing and fine-tuning their unpowered exoskeleton for UA junior Jeffrey Bristol, an accounting major with cerebral palsy, whose family sponsored their design project.

The team even met with collaborators at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, which helped inform the design of the apparatus that will enable Jeffrey to maintain an upright position and exercise muscles needed to walk.

Their project impressed judges, who awarded them the inaugural Frank Broyles Engineering Ethics Award.

Congratulations to the following Design Day 2017 winners:

  • Thorlabs Photonics Is the Future Award: Team 16021, featuring biomedical engineering majors Oksana Carlson and Jordan Stupka
  • Frank Broyles Engineering Ethics Award – First Prize: Team 16055, featuring biomedical engineering majors Martin Galaz, Jason Keatseangsilp, Amanda Koiki and Thomas Valenzuela
  • Frank Broyles Engineering Ethics Award – Second Prize: Team 16031, featuring biomedical engineering major Lauren Rimsza
  • TRAX International Award for Best Implementation of Agile Methodology: Team 16003, featuring biomedical engineering major Justin Larimore
  • W.L. Gore & Associates Award for Most Creative Solution: Team 16006, featuring biomedical engineering major Brent Miller
  • Phoenix Analysis & Design Award for Best Use of Prototyping: Team 16010, featuring biomedical engineering majors Kevin Brinkman, Sandra Cruz and Fermin Prieto
  • RBC Sargent Aerospace & Defense Voltaire Design Award: Team 16073, featuring biomedical engineering major Kevin Barr

BME major Jessica Owens also received the Honeywell Award for Team Leadership, for her involvement with Team 16074. That team also featured biomedical engineers Lucrezia Capano, Maxwell Li and Saffie-Alrahman Ezz-Eldin Mohran.

Emily Evans of Team 16063 won the first-prize Kristy Pearson Fish Out of Water Award, for her part in the project Autonomous Macadamia Nut Harvester Enhancement.

Sophomore's Research Gets Radio Spotlight

Swati Chandra presenting a poster of her researchRadio station KXCI weekly Thesis Thursday program recently interviewed sophomore Swati Chandra about her internship at the Tissue Optics Lab.

Under the guidance of BME professor and BIO5 Institute interim director Jennifer Barton, Chandra uses optical coherence tomography to visualize tumors for additional study. The results of her data and image analysis ultimately will be used to further development of an endoscope capable of detecting ovarian cancer in its earliest stages.

A self-labeled nerd, Chandra said she hopes eventually to become a physician, and believes her background in biomedical engineering with help her "lend a unique perspective to the field."

Thesis Thursday is a partnership between KXCI and UA's Undergraduate Biology Research Program to feature student researchers' thesis or research projects while giving them an opportunity to share the music and interests that motivate them.

RSVP Now for ​BME End-of-Year Party!

​​2016 BME picnic attendeesCelebrate the beginning of summer (and the end of the semester!) with your favorite faculty, staff and students at an end-of-year party co-hosted by the BME department and the Biomedical Undergraduate Mentors.

On Wednesday, May 3, at 5 p.m., join us in Himmel Park for Eegee's, games and a great time. Parking is available along Treat Ave. east of the park or in the lot just north of the park off 1st Street.

Please RSVP to Diana Wilson at

Design Day 2017: The Next Big Thing, 100 Times Over

Student at Design Day

Engineering affects virtually every aspect of our lives, and at the University of Arizona's Engineering Design Day on May 1, more than 500 students – including 45 seniors from the UA Department of Biomedical Engineering – inte​nd to prove it.

The public is invited to see the displays in the Student Union Memorial Center Grand Ballroom and on the UA Mall from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., and to attend the awards ceremony in the ballroom from 4 to 5:30 p.m., when industry sponsors will present more than $25,000 in cash prizes to project teams.

Download the UA Engineering Design app, available for iOS and Android! Find your favorite project and presenter, and then – new this year! – post to social media directly from the app.

Research Prof's Startup Licenses Heart Graft Technology

Left to right: Drs. Jen Koevary, Jordan Lancaster and Steve Goldman of Avery Therapeutics

Tucson-based biomedical startup Avery Therapeutics Inc. has licensed a beating heart graft technology, MyCardia, that has been shown to improve heart functions in preclinical studies.

MyCardia is a biologically active cardiac graft that can be surgically affixed to a heart to assist function for patients with conditions such as chronic heart failure. Tech Launch Arizona, the office of the UA that commercializes inventions stemming from University research, facilitated the process of defining and protecting the heart graft technology.

The commercial license is a big boost for Avery's leadership team, including chief operating officer Jen Watson Koevary. Koevary, who currently serves as a BME research assistant professor, earned her bachelor's degree from the UA College of Engineering and her doctorate from the BME GIDP.

Photo of Koevary and colleagues with MyCardia sample courtesy of Avery Therapeutics

BizTucson Highlights Barton's Team Effort to Detect, Defeat Ovarian Cancer

Professor Jennifer Barton's cross-disciplinary research into early detection of ovarian cancer is garnering notice – most recently in a cover story in the spring 2017 issue of BizTucson magazine.

BizTucson's Spring 2017 Cover with Jennifer Barton

Barton, who also serves as interim director of the BIO5 Institute, is presently working on a millimeter-scale endoscope called a salpingoscope alongside collaborators in the UA colleges of optical sciences and medicine.

The salpingoscope was first developed with funding from a nearly $1.3 million National Institutes of Health grant. The research team – which includes "engineering students, physiology students, optical science students and medical residents," Barton said – is now working to enhance the device for improved "high-sensitivity, high-resolution imaging of the Fallopian tube, ovaries and uterine wall."

"Concurrent to advancing the basic biology research on ovarian cancer development and improving the device's imaging capabilities is a search for an outside commercial partner to provide engineering and manufacturing," Barton added.

Barton is also collaborating with professor Raymond Kostuk in the department of electrical and computer engineering on a separate detection method based on a volume holographic imaging system.

Slepian to Present on Stretchable, Wearable Medical Sensors

A device as thin as a Band-Aid, and just as flexible, could change how we monitor chronic conditions and ultimately improve patients' quality of life.A prototype of a wearable medical device under development by Dr. Marvin Slepian

Dr. Marvin Slepian, a UA professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Arizona Center for Accelerated Biomedical Innovation, is developing stretchable, wearable medical devices that can detect an individual's sweat, heartbeat, breathing, temperature and motion. The data could then be saved to the cloud as an electronic health record or sent simultaneously to a cell phone – perhaps that of a patient's doctor.

The device, which Dr. Slepian envisions fitting on a thin strip of film worn by patients, would give physicians "the ability to see if someone has had a change in their mobility which may be a sign of worsening heart failure, if they've had a change in their activity level which maybe a sign of a neurologic condition or any of the things that are more chronic."

In a recent interview with KOLD 13, Slepian said such devices could ultimately reduce health care costs and may be on the market within a year or two.

Slepian will discuss the technology in two upcoming presentations: at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15, at the UA College of Medicine - Tucson, and at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 16, at the Canoa Hills Social Center in Green Valley. 

Photo courtesy of Tucson News Now.

Annual BME Poster Sessions Bring Undergrads, Grads Together

2017 Most Creative Research winner, Amanda Koiki, with her poster

On March 1, posters made by undergraduate biomedical engineers lined the Grand Ballroom in the Student Union Memorial Center for the department's fifth annual BME Design Day.

The event was sponsored by W.L. Gore & Associates and featured a keynote presentation by Gore engineer Ryan Gapp – a 2014 graduate of BME's undergraduate program and a former UA Engineering Ambassador.

The 2017 winners were:

  • First Place: Martin Galaz, senior, for "Mechanical Stimulation Apparatus for Engineered Heart Tissues"
  • Second Place: Swati Chandra, sophomore, for "Intermittent Dosing with Sulindac Provides Effective Colorectal Cancer Chemoprevention in the Azoxymethane-treated Mouse Model"
  • Third Place: Jeffry Granados, senior, for "Examining Extracellular Matrix Proteins in Healthy and Fibrotic Decellularized Kidney Scaffolds"
  • Most Promising Research: Emily Evans, senior, for "Helminth Therapy as a Novel Treatment for Autoimmune Disease: Laboratory Viability of the Necator Americanus Human Hookworm"
  • Most Creative Research: Amanda Koiki, senior, for "The Dance of Baseball: An Exploration of Aesthetics"

Joining BME Design Day this year was the UA Biomedical Engineering Graduate Interdisciplinary Program's Builders Day poster session. The graduate winners were:

  • First Place: Loi Do, second-year PhD student, for "Analysis of Neurological Diffusion Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging Across a Lifespan: Rodent Model"
    Adviser: Ted Trouard
  • Second Place: Jeff Watson, third-year PhD student, for "Glioma Resection Using Augmented Microscopy Guidance with Indocyanine Green Contrast"
    Adviser: Marek Romanowski
  • Third Place: Vic Keschrumrus, third-year PhD student, for "Engineered Heart Tissues for Titin-Based Disease Modeling"
    Adviser: Henk Granzier

Photo of BME senior Amanda Koiki with her award-winning poster, "The Dance of Baseball: An Exploration of Aesthetics," courtesy of Mia Schnaible. Additional photos are available on the BME Facebook Page.

Funding for Early-Stage Invention Awarded to BME Professor

Marek Romanowski, a University of Arizona biomedical engineering professor with a joint appointment in materials science and engineering, won one of seven 2017 Asset Development awards from Tech Launch Arizona. The Asset Development program awards funding for work "such as prototype development, functionality assessment and scalability testing," ultimately to better align early-stage technologies with market opportunities.

Professor Marek Romanowski (right) assembles an augmented microscope with aid from doctoral student Jeffrey Watson. (2015)Funding from the award will assist Romanowski, in collaboration with Dr. Gerald Lemole, a professor of surgery at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, in developing a solid-state camera system for monitoring cranial nerve pathways in anesthetized patients.

Romanowski's previous innovations include augmented microscopy, which allows operating neurosurgeons to view blood flow inside vessels and also distinguish cancerous from healthy tissue under the microscope more clearly.


University of Arizona College of Engineering
Department of Biomedical Engineering 1127 E James E. Rogers Way P.O. Box 210020 Tucson, AZ 85721-0020