BioNanotechnology Summer Institute trains next-generation of researchers

8/17/2015 Jonathan Lin

Twenty-six students, postdocs, and junior faculty from science and engineering disciplines from across the campus, the country, and overseas participated in the 2015 University of Illinois BioNanotechnology Summer Institute from July 27-August 7 at the Micro + Nanotechnology Lab, learning about cancer nanotechnology, cell mechanics, molecular biology, micro & nano fabrication techniques, and microfluidics. The participants engaged in lectures and hands-on training in engineering and physical science lab techniques provided by experts from the U of I, Emory University, National Institutes of Health, Purdue University, University of California Berkeley, and University of Colorado at Boulder.

Hosted by the U of I Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology in collaboration with other campus labs and departments, the Institute has trained more than 300 participants during the last six years.  The Institute aims to prepare the next-generation workforce by enhancing researchers’ ability to address challenges in cancer nanotechnology and mechanobiology.

Participants spent each day conducting a lab module in the morning at MNTL or in the Bioengineering Department, followed by lectures and discussions in the afternoon. In the evening, they networked and attended group activities.  The lab modules were led by MNTL and Bioengineering senior graduate students and staff. Participants presented their research work through posters and one-minute presentations, which were judged for excellence by a faculty panel.

Speed Networking
Speed Networking
  One of the highlights of the Institute was the speed networking session, where participants introduce themselves to each other and talk about their research within five minutes. Such networking opportunities are a precursor to future interactions and technical collaborations.

Laura Miller, a key organizer of the program, believes the Institute is unique not only in its content, but also in its reach. “People from all over the world get a sample of the world-class facilities that our graduate students and faculty work in every day,” she said. “Networks that started between participants of all backgrounds and levels, from biology to engineering, senior undergraduates to faculty, continue and expand long after the Summer Institute comes to a close.”

Funding for the program was provided through the ongoing NSF Integrative Graduate Education Research Traineeship in Cellular and Molecular Mechanics and BioNanotechology, NIH/NCI Midwest-Cancer Nanotechnology Training Center, and CNST. These grants are led by MNTL resident faculty Professor Rashid Bashir in Bioengineering.


Here’s what two of the Institute participants thought about their experience this summer:


Bradley Ellis (Senior, University of Notre Dame)

Why did you choose to attend the Summer Institute?

I wanted to get a jump-start on graduate school.

What's the most valuable thing you've learned so far?

Probably how different disciplines work together, just this week we learned how materials science concepts work together with electrical engineering processes for applications in medicine.

What are your plans after the Summer Institute?

I want to continue on into academia, get into exciting research, and eventually teach as a professor.




Huma Rasheed (Research Scholar, AmpliTech, Inc.)

Why did you choose to attend the Summer Institute?

The summer institute offers instruction on applying advanced technology into biology and other sciences, like nanomedicine.

What's the most valuable thing you've learned so far?

I have a pharmacology background and am most interested in micro cell biology and encapsulated drug delivery. There have been a series of lectures on the applications of nanoparticles in curing cancer that I have found very valuable.

What are your plans after the summer institute?

I want to take some of the advanced techniques I have learned here, back to my native field of targeted drug therapy and pharmacology.