Biomedical Engineering Summer Research Program (SREP)
The BME Summer Research Experience Program (SREP) provides students a meaningful experience in a Biomedical Engineering research laboratory. These placements help inform future career choices, including Research or Research & Development pathways via PhD study or working in research laboratory positions as a Masters graduate.
Students participating in SREP will undertake work experience with academics and research staff in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, gaining valuable exposure to the world of research. A limited number of placements are offered and are allocated on a competitive basis. Projects are sourced either from the list below, or by students approaching individual academics requesting supervision in a topic in which they are interested.
The SREP is available either as a 12.5 point Approved Elective in the Master of Engineering (Biomedical) or as a Volunteer Placement. Eligibility, time commitment, expectations and outcomes for each stream vary accordingly.
- Approved Elective (12.5 point) subject: The SREP subject (BMEN90041) will run over the summer semester, from 3rd January to 26th February 2023. The handbook entry for this subject can be found here: https://handbook.unimelb.edu.au/2022/subjects/bmen90041
Eligibility for Master of Engineering students (Biomedical or Biomedical with Business)
- Current enrolment in UoM Master of Engineering (Biomedical or Biomedical with business) and study plan space for an Approved Elective.
- 75% WAM or better.
- Volunteer Placements: These are unpaid, voluntary work experience opportunities, and can occur between November 2021 - February 2022 as agreed upon by the student and supervisor. Students can volunteer up to 10 hours per week.
Eligibility for Science, Biomedicine or Engineering students
- Current enrolment in a UoM Master of Engineering degree or commencing 3rd year of a UoM Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Biomedicine degree in 2022
- H2A average or better.
How to apply
If you meet the eligibility criteria, please send Natasha Baxter (email@example.com) an email from your UoM student account containing the following information:
- Student number
- Current postal address
- Current phone number
- Whether you would like to take SREP as an Approved Elective or a Volunteer Placement
- Your top three projects in order of preference (if selected from the list below), or attach proof of correspondence with a supervisor agreeing to supervise you in a different project
- Why you are interested in undertaking the program and your plans for further studies
- Attach your UoM Statement of Results to-date, and your undergraduate transcript if it was completed at a non-UoM institution.
Applications should be submitted by 13 November 2022 to guarantee consideration.
A select list of projects is given below. You are also encouraged to reach out to BME academics whose areas of expertise aligns with your research interests, and to enquire about their availability for supervision. https://biomedical.eng.unimelb.edu.au/people#academic
Stiffness control in 3D printing
The application of spatial stiffness control is immensely important for the creation of 4D metamaterials, soft robotics and cell alignment. However, currently there is no robust way to spatially control the stiffness of photopolymers. This project will aim to investigate whether grey-scale lithography processes can be applied to locally tailor the stiffness of a material in three-dimensions. Ideal candidates will have experience in image processing methods, material development and material characterisation.
Rapid Prototyping Techniques for Polystyrene Microfluidic Devices
Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS, aka silicone) has been widely used to fabricate microfluidic devices for decades. It is easy to handle, it can replicate fine structures on the order of microns, and it has been used to culture a vast array of different cell types in different contexts. However, certain disadvantages of PDMS restrict its use to academic research, resulting in a development bottleneck wherein novel devices published in scientific literature fail to translate into useful products for other researchers.
On the other hand, polystyrene is commonly used for a variety of cell culture purposes. It is the go-to choice for high-volume commercial production due to its convenient surface chemistry and compatibility with industrial manufacturing processes. The drawback, though, is polystyrene’s incompatibility with prototyping techniques used to fabricate microfluidic structures. In recent years, more researchers have begun developing rapid prototyping techniques for working with this more “traditional” material, and the Collins BioMicrosystems Laboratory (CBML) is interested in developing these techniques for our various research projects.
The project will involve (1) critically evaluating the growing number of examples of prototyping techniques for polystyrene microfluidic devices, (2) planning and conducting experiments to replicate those techniques that seem most promising, and (3) transferring the knowledge gained to the wider CBML group. An ideal candidate will possess excellent written and verbal communication skills and a thorough acquaintance with rapid prototyping and industrial manufacturing techniques.
3D microfluidic micromixer
Rapid mixing of small-scale liquids is beneficial for many chemical and biomedical studies, however, mixing time minimization is an ongoing challenge. Mixing in the passive micromixers is governed by the channel topology and powered solely by the flow itself, without any external power source. Comparative studies of passive mixers indicate that the split-and-recombine (SAR) type of micromixers is the most effective at low Reynolds numbers. Due to recent developments in additive manufacturing, we are proposing a novel SAR micromixer, designed to have minimal volume for shortening mixing times and optimized to be manufactured with cutting-edge 3D printing techniques.
The complex three-dimensional acoustic fields generated by acoustic holography can be used to manipulate cells/particles in fluids. In this project, students will collaborate with our PhD students in Biomedical Engineering to develop acoustic hologram models that generate flexible 3D acoustic fields and demonstrate applications in cell/microparticle manipulation. Students will be able to develop MATLAB programming/acoustic holographic computing skills, print and test acoustic hologram devices and gain experience conducting research in a biomedical laboratory.
Bioabsorbable plates for cranial fixation: A biomechanics assessment
Resorbable fixation plates are commonly employed in interfragmentary fixation for paediatric craniofacial surgery; however, the strength characteristics of these plates, and how these properties change over time, remains poorly understood. The objective of this laboratory study is to evaluate the load response properties of bioabsorbable plates under simulated in vitro conditions. The findings will have implications for paediatric craniofacial surgical planning.
Prediction of diagnostic outcomes from patient surveys
Epilepsy is often misdiagnosed due to poor collection of patient histories by non-specialist doctors. In this project, you will use machine learning to predict patient diagnosis from patient survey data. This will eventually allow more people to get higher quality diagnosis and treatment faster. This project will be a collaboration between the Department of Biomedical Engineering and an industry partner, Seer.
Optimisation of seizure forecasts
Seizure risk forecasting is currently available through a mobile app, using information from patient-reported events and a wearable device. This project will seek to optimise the way in which this data is used in order to create more accurate forecasts. This project will be a collaboration between the Department of Biomedical Engineering and an industry partner, Seer.