2017 BME Newsletter cover image

2017 BME Newsletter


While we have quite a few updates to share from the past year, I want to start by looking forward: the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering has an exciting year ahead as our first undergraduate class enters their senior year and prepares to move on. Their graduation in May 2018 will be a major milestone for the Meinig School. And, our undergraduate major continues to grow, exponentially! After growing from 19 seniors in our first class to 33 juniors in our second year, more than 70 sophomores have expressed an intent to affiliate as biomedical engineering majors this fall.

Hiring faculty is always one of our most important activities, even more so as we develop our new undergraduate curriculum. This year we welcome several new faculty, including two new senior hires, both of whom contribute to our excellence in cardiovascular engineering, as highlighted in our cover story.

Professor Yadong Wang is a chemist working on innovative biomaterials for cardiovascular regeneration and tissue engineering. Yadong’s success at translating basic polymer science to clinical applications is an important addition to our program.

Professor James Antaki works on ventricular assistant devices and blood pumps, and will join us in January 2018. Jim brings strengths in device design that are currently not well represented in BME.

Adding to our expertise in imaging and neuroscience, Mert Sabuncu joined the Meinig School as an assistant professor with his primary appointment in Electrical and Computer Engineering and 25% effort in BME (highlighted in last year’s newsletter). Mert is one of the leaders of the Cornell Neurotechnology NeuroNex Hub, which was recently funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Ankur Singh, working on immuno-engineering, joined BME at 25% effort, effective summer 2017. Ankur has been an assistant professor in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering since 2013. We look forward to Ankur’s leadership in the immunology, infection and inflammation research thrust.

Updating you on the accomplishments and recognition of our faculty is always a pleasure, particularly the junior faculty. Ilana Brito, our newest assistant professor, hit the ground running this year with great success. Most notably Ilana was recognized as a 2017 Sloan Research Fellow by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in the area of computational & evolutionary molecular biology. As previously mentioned, the NSF funded the new Cornell Neurotechnology NeuroNex Hub, an effort led by a team of five faculty, including Mert Sabuncu and Chris Schaffer, both faculty in the Meinig School.

As director, laboratory and teaching space issues keep me up at night. We have made progress in planning for the future in a joint effort between the Colleges of Engineering, Arts & Sciences (CAS), and Agriculture & Life Sciences (CALS), as described in the "Changing Spaces" article in this newsletter. The CAS and CALS host the Office of Undergraduate Biology, with whom our future teaching space will be co-located in Comstock Hall. Initially Biomedical Engineering will be shifting our administrative offices to the west wing of Weill Hall, pending completion of ongoing renovation of the first floor and basement. In the basement, we are adding much needed design and fabrication facilities. The planning process for the next and longer phases will be initiated this fall. Creating teaching space outside Weill Hall and opening up the first floor will allow us to add faculty laboratories.

As our faculty grows, growth of the graduate program follows. Our Ph.D. students are highly accomplished and go on to do great things. We highlight the recognitions received by our students and quite a few Ph.D. alumni have started their own faculty careers. Please reach out and update us on your own career progress, we’d love to share your successes.

Finally, I hope many of you will be able to join us June 22, 2018, as we celebrate the achievements of Professor Michael Shuler. Few faculty have such broad impact in the College of Engineering: Mike first contributed through his leadership of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, and then as the founding chair of Biomedical Engineering. The Meinig School exists due not only to Mike’s vision, but also his perseverance. We look forward to an engaging symposium.


Marjolein C.H. van der Meulen
James M. and Marsha McCormick Director of Biomedical Engineering
Swanson Professor of Biomedical Engineering