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Engineering students organize symposium in biomedical systems

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By Charlie Johnson, ECE ILLINOIS
March 26, 2010

  • Five engineering graduate students are organizing the Symposium on Emerging Topics in Control and Modeling.
  • This topic of this year's symposium is biomedical engineering.
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration and graduate research will be a heavy focus of the event.

It’s common to see graduate students at a research symposium presenting papers, listening to lectures, and scoping out the buffet table.

It’s not nearly so common to find them organizing one.

But that’s what a group of PhD candidates in engineering are doing. ECE grad students Robert Gregg and Jeremy Kemmerer, Mechanical Engineering grad student David Hoelzle, Chemical Engineering grad student Ashlee Ford, and Aerospace grad student Miles Johnson are organizing the second Symposium on Emerging Topics in Control and Modeling, to be held at the Beckman Institute on April 22 and 23.

Organizers of the Symposium on Emerging Topics in Control and Modeling: Biomedical Systems are (from left) David Hoelzle, Miles Johnson, Jeremy Kemmerer, Ashlee Ford, and Robert Gregg.
Organizers of the Symposium on Emerging Topics in Control and Modeling: Biomedical Systems are (from left) David Hoelzle, Miles Johnson, Jeremy Kemmerer, Ashlee Ford, and Robert Gregg.

Last year’s symposium focused on alternative energy systems. The topic this year is biomedical systems.

The two-day event will feature lectures from a dozen academic and industry researchers from around the country speaking on topics related to control and modeling in the field of biomedical systems and engineering. The event also features an interactive poster session where graduate and undergraduate students can present their work and—the most important part of any research symposium—eat some food. As with the first Symposium on Emerging Topics, the organizers want emphasize interdisciplinary research and collaboration.

“What’s really exciting about the biomedical field is that research in this area tends to pull people in from a whole bunch of different areas, some of which have very little traditional overlap,” said Kemmerer. “What we think is so great about this is we are trying to bring people in from all departments and areas who are interested in solving the same sorts of problems."

As its finale, the symposium will also feature a panel of invited speakers, Illinois researchers, and physicians who will take questions, discuss presented research, and communicate directly with professors and students in the audience.

“It’s really a fantastic opportunity, as a graduate student, to interact with and be heard by leading experts in a bunch of different fields,” said Gregg.

“And we know there are a lot of undergrads in biology who are wondering if they want to go into engineering, or engineers wondering if they want to explore biology,” said Johnson. “You get this great mix of disciplines that lets you explore a little bit of everything if you think you’re interested in the biomedical field.”

A complete list of speakers and a calendar of events can be found at the symposium Web site . Students interested in presenting a poster can still submit abstracts online until April 5 and anyone can register to attend the symposium until April 15. Thus far, registrations have come in as far away as Switzerland and South Korea.

“To anyone thinking about checking it out, please, register and come,” said Gregg. “Thanks to the symposium sponsors, student registration fees will be fully reimbursed.”

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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