ORLANDO, Fla. — Four Trine University biomedical engineering students attended the
annual meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) from Oct. 6-9 at the Orlando
World Center Marriott in Florida, with three presenting research.
Offered in person and online, the annual meeting serves the society’s more than 5,000
members. The theme for this year’s event was “Magical Healthcare Innovation Powered
by an Inclusive Workforce.”
The Trine students attended in person. Ashley Spirrison of Fishers, Indiana, and Madison
Howard of Pleasant Lake, Michigan, presented research from a project they are conducting
at Trine under the supervision of Max Gong, Ph.D.
Howard and Spirrison are developing microfluidic vasculature-on-a-chip models, engineered
models that mimic living tissues, of blood and lymphatic vessels to investigate the
relationship between hyperoxia (excess oxygen in tissues and organs) and its negative
The project seeks to help address concerns NASA has regarding the safety of its astronauts,
who have to be exposed to hyperoxia while completing missions outside of Earth’s atmosphere.
“We had a great response with many professors, undergraduate, graduate and post-doctorate
students stopping by to listen to our presentation and ask questions,” said Spirrison.
Paige Schiebel of Saint Charles, Minnesota, presented research she conducted as part
of the National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program
at the University of South Carolina this past summer. She also was able to reconnect
with faculty and other students who were part of the REU.
Schiebel’s research focused on the effectiveness of using specialized gold nanoparticles
to reduce plaques in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s disease.
“My research sparked the interest of several graduate students and faculty of diverse
backgrounds who stopped by to hear about it,” she said. “I enjoyed sharing my research
and receiving feedback about ideas they had to build upon and improve my work.”
Kortney Helm of Muncie, Indiana, attended as a student volunteer.
“I thought it would be a great experience to learn more about what novel advancements
and research are going on in the rapidly evolving field of biomedical engineering,”
she said. “I also thought it would be a great professional development experience.”
Helm said she enjoyed listening to a variety of presentations and networking with
students from other universities and graduate programs as well as biomedical engineering
“One thing I did not expect, but was delighted to experience, was a greater appreciation
for my education at Trine,” she said. “Talking with and learning from leaders in the
biomedical engineering field who have far more experience than we do as students seemed
very intimidating at first, but I was able to have enjoyable, intelligent conversations
with numerous professionals because of the technical knowledge and soft skills the
BME department at Trine has equipped me with.”
She said the conference also reinforced the relevance of what she is learning in the
“I saw presentations where even the leaders in the field of BME were relying on the
very same knowledge base and techniques I have learned in my classes at Trine,” she
In addition to attending the conference, the group was able to take some fun excursions
to Disney Springs, Epcot and ICON Park, and were part of a networking event with fellow
BMES attendees at Universal Studios Island of Adventure.
“I had a lot of fun at the conference and really enjoyed hearing about all of the
cutting-edge research taking place in our field,” said Howard.