This research lab is focused on understanding striated (cardiac and skeletal) muscle function and structure, and integrating this into the body physiology to better understand disease. Our most active research is on the function of cardiac diastolic function and non-invasive measures of cardiac structure. Opportunities for undergraduate research include (but are not limited to): cardiac biomechanics, ultrasound tissue characterization, computer control of biomechanical experiments, and computer modeling of muscle biomechanics.
The lab is currently focused on the response of muscle to stretch. Specifically, the lab has characterized Mechanical Control of (cardiac) Relaxation, where a fast stretch can accelerate relaxation of the heart, making it easier for the heart to fill after pumping blood into the body. Clinically, problems filling the heart are now more important than problems pumping blood. Current studies include isolation of cardiac muscle strips (trabeculae) or cells (myocytes) and performing measurements on a mechanical testing system.
Undergraduate students have contributed to publications such as:
Control of Biomechanical Experiments:
The lab currently uses custom developed computer control systems (MicrostarLabs; Matlab). Using both Matlab syntax and C++ syntax, numerous advancements to the computer control systems can be developed. These include control of position and/or replicating physiological responses (aortic blood pressure).
Computer Modeling of Biomechanics:
The lab uses computer models of interactions (differential equations) between cardiac proteins (calcium, troponin, actin, myosin, etc) to try to better understand the cardiac biomechanics responses. Undergraduate students have contributed to publications such as:
Pre-medical, biophysics, kinesiology, and engineering majors are ideal participants, but students with specific interests in the laboratory research are invited to contact the Project Lead.
Freshmen and Sophomore undergraduates are not expected to have any research or course experience.
Due to the anticipated duration of projects and training, Junior and Senior undergraduates must have prior experience working with Matlab, computer control, computer modeling or vision, muscle biomechanics, or biochemical techniques. Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, or Computer Science are recommended for upper-class students.
All students are expected to dedicate ~9 hrs per week (typically in 2 blocks).
Please send a resume and unofficial transcript to the Principal Investigator (email@example.com), along with a statement of which research project is of interest and your career goals.
Students should expect to work for several semesters, with an ideal outcome of an undergraduate thesis and/or publishable scientific manuscript. Training on Biomechanics and Ultrasound studies are expected to take at least 1 semester, with acquisition, analysis, and writing to take 2 or more additional semesters.
Students working only on programming projects should anticipate at least 2 semesters of work.
All students would be mentored to understanding the background (basis) and applications (including clinical translation) of their work. They would also gain experience in reading and understanding research literature, statistics, and similar skills.
Students would learn how to study trabeculae or myocytes from small animal models of health and disease. Students would be mentored in how to isolate (dissect) muscle or cells and perform experimental assays, perform data analysis, and present their findings.
Control of Biomechanical Experiments:
Students would be mentored in modifying or developing new protocols used to control biomechanics and/or ultrasound experiments. Students may participate in Biomechanics or Ultrasound studies and/or present their data.
April 12, 2022