Bioengineering students receive 2021 Beckman Institute awards and fellowships


Meg Dickinson

Bioengineering undergraduate and graduate students have received fellowships and awards to conduct interdisciplinary research at the Beckman Institute

Beckman Institute Undergraduate Fellowship

Bioengineering undergraduate student Yamenah Ambreen
Bioengineering undergraduate student Yamenah Ambreen

Supported by funding from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, the fellowship offers University of Illinois undergraduate students the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary research at the institute during the summer.

Yamenah Ambreen is a junior majoring in bioengineering and psychology. She’ll work with Daniel Llano and Wawrzyniec Dobrucki, a professor of bioengineering, to study the link between age-related hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease. She hopes her work will open a new avenue of research into what causes Alzheimer’s disease and whether preventing hearing loss in older adults can decrease its prevalence.

See the full list of Beckman Institute Undergraduate Fellowship awardees.


Nadine Barrie Smith Memorial Fellowship

Bioengineering graduate student Neha Goswami
Bioengineering graduate student Neha Goswami

In honor of Nadine Barrie Smith’s life and achievements, Smith’s husband, Andrew Webb, established the Nadine Barrie Smith Memorial Fund that is supported by Smith’s family, friends, and colleagues. The fund provides fellowships to female engineering graduate students who are conducting research in the general field of medical imaging (e.g., ultrasound, optical, magnetic resonance) at the Beckman Institute.

Neha Goswami is a graduate student in bioengineering working with Gabriel Popescu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and bioengineering. She is developing a COVID-19 breath test using label-free imaging and artificial intelligence. When an individual exhales on a microscope slide, her research will allow the slide to be fed into a spatial light interference microscopy microscope equipped with a computer that runs deep-learning pre-trained algorithms for identifying the virus. She then hopes to make the technology usable in clinics and testing locations, and estimates patients could get results in a few seconds.

See the full list of Nadine Barrie Smith Memorial Fellowship awardees.

Beckman Institute Graduate Fellowship

Bioengineering graduate student Richard Xie
Bioengineering graduate student Richard Xie

This program offers graduate students from the University of Illinois students at the M.A., M.S., or Ph.D. level the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary research at the institute.

Yuxuan “Richard” Xie is a Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering with a computer science and engineering concentration. He’ll work with Jonathan Sweedler of chemistry and bioengineering and Fan Lam of bioengineering. His research will focus on developing novel imaging techniques for multimodal mass spectrometry imaging and magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging. The ultimate goal: To develop a framework that harnesses both imaging tools to gather biochemical information about the brain.
He’ll develop computational imaging and data-driven methods, which will lead to a significant improvement in how quickly high-resolution mass spectrometry imaging data can be acquired, and apply deep learning tools to integrate the multimodal data. His work will also lead to a better representation of brain chemistry with high molecular specificity and sensitivity, as well as accurate tissue physiology. The project will enhance researchers’ understanding of the brain, thanks to combining the powers of two separate imaging tools.

Bioengineering professors Rohit Bhargava, Fan Lam and Brad Sutton will be working with several of the graduate fellows. See the full list of the 2021 Beckman Institute Graduate Fellowships awardees.