Curry Stu­dent Center buzzed with excite­ment on Friday as more than 700 researchers from around the world filed in for the 40th annual North­east Bio­engi­neering Con­fer­ence, a three-​​day event on April 25–27 hosted by the Col­lege of Engi­neering.

Bio­engi­neers inher­ently are working to help people and it’s won­derful to work with such a great group of people who are moti­vated by such a noble thing,” said con­fer­ence co-​​organizer Rebecca Car­rier, an asso­ciate pro­fessor in Northeastern’s Depart­ment of Chem­ical Engi­neering.

In opening remarks on Friday, fellow co-​​organizer Anand Astha­giri noted that the event was held in con­junc­tion with the Bio­med­ical Engi­neering Society’s Career Con­nec­tions con­fer­ence, which drew bio­med­ical engi­neers to campus to dis­cuss their career paths with stu­dents in the field.

Bio­engi­neering is so inti­mately con­nected to improving human life and well being that trainees in this dis­ci­pline find them­selves drawn to a remark­able range of career oppor­tu­ni­ties in research, industry, med­i­cine, law, busi­ness and many other arenas,” said Astha­giri, an asso­ciate pro­fessor of chem­ical engi­neering at North­eastern. “We wanted to give con­fer­ence atten­dees a plat­form not only to share their sci­en­tific and engi­neering advances, but also to explore the many ways they can trans­late bio­engi­neering advances to impact society.”

After a morning ses­sion devoted to career talks, more than 100 teams of under­grad­uate stu­dents par­tic­i­pated in an engi­neering design poster com­pe­ti­tion, which kicked off the start of the NEBEC por­tion of the event. Ten North­eastern teams pre­sented on topics ranging from designing new ear­ring backs for people with essen­tial tremor to devel­oping better breast cancer detec­tion methods.

I like the effect that bio­engi­neering has on human life,” said Maggie McGuire, E’14, who par­tic­i­pated in the com­pe­ti­tion with her senior cap­stone team­mates. “You can still use engi­neering and math to have an impact on wellness.”

Over the next two days, 65 researchers pre­sented cur­rent work during 13 plat­form ses­sions, touching on aspects of bio­engi­neering ranging from drug delivery to human dynamics.

In opening remarks on Friday, North­eastern pro­fessor of elec­trical and com­puter engi­neering Lee Makowski dis­cussed the university’s recently formed bio­engi­neering depart­ment. In five months, the pro­gram has amassed 80 affil­i­ated fac­ulty mem­bers rep­re­senting every depart­ment in the Col­lege of Engi­neering, the Col­lege of Sci­ence, and the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences.

When they were devel­oping the pro­gram, Makowski and his col­leagues probed other field leaders for their def­i­n­i­tions of bio­engi­neering. “Everyone gave a very firm and dif­ferent answer,” he said. “What we decided was that for North­eastern, bio­engi­neering was really engi­neering in the bio­log­ical context.”

Engi­neering is a design dis­ci­pline, he explained, and the way one designs is entirely depen­dent on the envi­ron­ment in ques­tion. “Depending on the envi­ron­ment that you’re designing for, you’re going to have dif­ferent con­straints, dif­ferent tol­er­ances, dif­ferent mate­rial require­ments,” Makowski said. “Those are very dif­ferent con­straints in the engi­neering process than if you were designing for an internal com­bus­tion engine, for instance.”

In plat­form ses­sions, researchers from five North­eastern labs dis­cussed their approaches to designing for the bio­log­ical envi­ron­ment. Another six North­eastern labs were rep­re­sented during poster ses­sions on Sat­urday and Sunday, which drew more than 250 abstracts.

Stacey Markovic, a stu­dent who con­ducts research in elec­trical engi­neering assis­tant pro­fessor Mark Niedre’s lab, won a com­pe­ti­tion among grad­uate researchers for deliv­ering the Most Out­standing Grad­uate Stu­dent Paper and Poster Pre­sen­ta­tion. Nil Tan­dogan, a stu­dent who works in chem­ical engi­neering assis­tant pro­fessor Ed Goluch’s lab, received an hon­or­able mention.

Bio­engi­neering is a focus we’ve decided to empha­size here at North­eastern,” said Nadine Aubry, dean of the Col­lege of Engi­neering, in her opening remarks on Sat­urday. “North­eastern has made tremen­dous con­tri­bu­tions to this field so far but it’s about to make even more.”