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    University of California Merced
   
 
  Dec 12, 2017
 
 
    
2017-2018 Catalog

Individual Graduate Program, Biological Engineering and Small-Scale Technologies Emphasis, Ph.D.


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          best.ucmerced.edu
          Chair: Kara McCloskey, kmccloskey@ucmerced.edu

The engineering sciences are undergoing a vast and fundamental metamorphosis from isolated disciplines to more integrative and multidisciplinary topics. Materials and Biological Engineering are concerned with the properties of assemblies (often self-assemblies) of molecules. Both rely on a range of microscopy and other structural characterization techniques to study these assemblies. Both address questions relating to micro-and nano-scale fabrication and processing. Specifically, the largest and still growing area of research in Biological Engineering is Tissue Engineering including in the development of novel biomaterials for regenerative medicine. Meanwhile, biology provides inspiration for developments in materials synthesis and processing.

The approved emphasis in BEST under the Individual Graduate Program (IGP) offers Masters of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in the synergistic areas of Biological Engineering and Materials Engineering with specializations in diverse themes. Research projects are available for thesis-based M.S. degrees (Plan I) and PhD degrees on topics ranging from fundamental characterization of materials to tissue engineering, and coursework. Coursework will provide a background in the tools and integration of modern materials.

Our faculty and staff take pride in combining exceptional teaching with state-of-the-art research to advance the education and research of this rapidly maturing discipline. Our researchers are actively participating both within and beyond the university community to apply biotechnology principles to the solutions of essential medical, technological, and societal challenges.
 

The doctoral degree is granted to students who demonstrate a thorough knowledge of a broad field of learning and have given evidence of distinguished accomplishment in that field. The degree also signifies that the recipient has critical ability and powers of imaginative synthesis as demonstrated by a doctoral dissertation containing an original contribution to knowledge in his or her chosen field of study. The doctoral student will complete a variety of coursework tailored to his or her specific area of study. Research and publication efforts will also be a primary focus of the individual doctoral training program. Funding is usually provided for doctoral students in the form of fellowships, training grants, teaching assistantships or research assistantships.

Ph.D. Program Learning Outcomes


  1. Core Knowledge – Possess a broad foundation in the fundamentals and current topics in either biological or materials science and engineering, as well as, an in-depth understanding of their chosen research topic area.
  2. Technical Skills- Exhibit the quantitative experimental and analytical skills necessary to conduct and lead independent research and contribute to knowledge in their chosen area.
  3. Research Competency – Be able to identify new, important, and interesting research opportunities, and be able to develop effective strategies, including the experimental plan, for pursuing these opportunities.
  4. Communication Skills – Communicate both fundamental concepts and details of their own research effectively, both in written and oral form, including in a classroom setting to expert and non-expert audiences.
  5. Critical Thinking- Be able to critically evaluate the experimental design, data analysis and data interpretation of our peers.

BEST Research Themes Include:


Tissue Engineering (including Biomaterials) is defined as the application of engineering principles to building/repairing tissues like blood vessels, heart muscle, nerves, cartilage, and bone. It is one of the largest growing areas of biomedical engineering. Concepts and discoveries from the fields of molecular and cell biology, including stem cell biology, physiology and immunology are also readily incorporated into research activities for tissue engineering.

Biomedical Imaging is a significant research and education area in biomedical engineering emphasizing biomedical imaging instrumentation development, biomedical imaging algorithms improvement, and biomedical biomarkers synthesis.

Biomolecular Engineering is a broader thematic area, but brings together tissue, cellular and molecular engineering, synthetic biology, bio-nanotechnology and biological computation capacity within UCM campus.  The major directions are: 1) to implement a general strategy for the development of nano-biosensors based on rheostatic protein conformational changes and develop important/critical applications in biomedicine (e.g. valley fever) and the environment (pollutant detection, etc.), 2) to develop small, simplified-optimized versions of proteins - of particular interest to biomedical or biotechnological/commercial communities - so that they can be efficiently produced, synthesized and employed at the industrial and/or pharmaceutical applications.

Microfabrication technologies originate from the microelectronics industry, the earliest microfabrication processes were used for integrated circuit fabrication. Microfabrication is actually a collection of technologies (microlithography, doping, thin films, etching, bonding, and polishing) which are utilized in making microdevices. We are most interested in using these technologies for small-scale studies like “lab-on-a-chip” and bio-micro-mechanical-systems (BIOEMEMS).

Nanotechnology is an integrated field to address previously untouchable issues in medicine such as building artificial organs and unique biosensing capacities. The ability to control molecular and nanoscale arrangement will allow tuning phonon, photo and electron properties and thus rationally engineering optical, electrical and thermal property accordingly. This research thrust will emphasize the creation of novel platforms that integrate/incorporate unique properties of nanoscale materials for directing cell shape and facilitating cell-materials interactions on the nano-scale.

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