Duke BME Master’s Students Awarded New Fellowships for Research

New BME fellowship aims to provide greater opportunities for master's students 

By Michaela Kane 

Duke’s Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) recently announced that 11 students were selected for its new Student Research Fellowships, the first such program offered to BME’s master’s students.

“This fellowship acts as a grant for the students and gives them power to explore different topics they are interested in,” says Fan Yuan, the director of master’s studies in BME and co-creator of the fellowship. “It’s the first fellowship program where masters students lead the research themselves, which we were very excited about.”

To be considered for the program, the students needed to submit a detailed research plan and a letter of recommendation from the faculty advisor who would oversee their work. If their projects were accepted, the brand-new fellowship would provide funding for up to two semesters of a student’s project, with the amount awarded per semester dependent on the student’s proposed needs.

For some students, the fellowship provides a practical opportunity to practice lab and grant-writing skills while pursuing diverse areas of interest in BME. “I really enjoy collaborating and contributing to interdisciplinary research, and this fellowship gives me the opportunity to do that while still contributing to my education at Duke,” says fellowship recipient Jawad Hoballah, a Master of Science candidate who will be using quantitative phase imaging to study laminopathy in a bronchial cell model in Professor Adam Wax’s lab. “It gives me the freedom to pursue answers to questions I’m curious about and still build on practical knowledge.”

Other recipients of the inaugural fellowships include:

Anandita Ananthakumar with advisor George Truskey

Ravi Chowdhary with advisor Junjie Yao

Hala El-Nahal with advisor Marc Sommer

Lauren Heckelman with advisor Lou DeFrate

Bangxin Lan with advisor Junjie Yao

Leah Machlin with advisor Ashutosh Chilkoti

Leighanne Oh with advisor Michael Lynch

Shuja Rayaz with advisor Tuan Vo-Dinh

Shi Shen with advisor Pei Zhong

Sinan Xiong with advisor Ashutosh Chilkoti

The Master of Science and Master of Engineering programs in Duke BME are designed to prepare graduates for future engineering careers in both industry and academia, and students gain invaluable experience by conducting and publishing research with faculty in the department. Although this is the first iteration of the fellowship program, students and faculty are optimistic about its role in promoting student-led research.

“We wanted to lower the barrier and make it easier for these students to complete their own research and pick up necessary and important lab skills,” says Ashutosh Chilkoti, chair of the BME department and a co-creator of the fellowship.  “It’s a new way to empower our master’s students.”

To learn more about the fellowship, visit: https://bme.duke.edu/grad/students/fellowships/bme-masters-fellowships