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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2014 / 03 

National Science Foundation to sponsor undergraduate biomechanics research program

March 3, 2014

Pamela VandeVord and students in lab
Pamela VandeVord, left, associate professor of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, works with students in the injury biomechanics laboratory.

Pamela VandeVord, associate professor of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, has received a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates summer program focused on biomechanics.

The $375,000 grant will allow qualifying undergraduate students interested in biomechanical engineering to learn about cutting edge research areas using interdisciplinary approaches. Students will participate in classroom learning and discussion, laboratory research, team building activities and program assessments.

"Students will be exposed to how multiscale biomechanical research can translate into novel devices for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of human injury and disease," VandeVord said. "A multiscale approach to biomechanical research will help students understand fundamental biological processes in health, injury, and disease."

Students selected for the program will explore a broad scope of relevant biomechanical problems, ranging from basic biology to biomedical applications. The studies will be theoretical, computational, experimental, and clinical in nature.

As an example, injury biomechanics, when explored from a multi-scale approach, can produce better results. "Motor vehicle crashes result in more than 1 million deaths per year worldwide. The injuries that occur to survivors of crashes are one of the largest public health concerns in society today," VandeVord said. "Faculty members within our department have a long history of using biomechanical principles to help solve passenger injuries. The focus on understanding injury tolerance has and will continue to save countless lives through the development of safer vehicle designs."

The School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences has received international recognition for its research on multiple medical topics, including risk of concussions.

The school started as a graduate program, but due to increasing interest in biomedical engineering, a biomedical engineering minor was added to the curriculum. VandeVord is the associate department head of undergraduate programs, and has developed two new courses:  Introduction to Biomedical Engineering and Medical Physiology for Engineers.

The summer program dates are May 31 through Aug. 8 on the Virginia Tech campus. All selected interns will receive a stipend of $4,250, travel reimbursement, and housing and meals on campus. Ten positions are available.

Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. They must also be in good academic standing and plan to complete a degree program.

Applications are due March 1. More information can be found online.

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