Each of UW Bioengineering’s undergraduate and graduate students has the opportunity to engage in research. BioE students are key in driving research discovery and innovation in diverse areas, from molecular engineering to regenerative medicine, and from biomedical imaging to diagnostic technologies for global health. Undergraduates often get started in research as freshman year, and the task of learning about BioE’s research and deciding which lab to join can be challenging.

BioE seniors Calysta Yan and Guanyou Lin saw the opportunity to make this decision-making process easier. For their honors service project, they teamed up to produce videos about BioE’s research themes. They were driven by a common goal: they wanted to help undergraduates explore and learn how to get involved in research.

Guanyou identified with the difficult choices students make when entering BioE. “When I first browsed the department’s website, I discovered many exciting research themes, and was eager to join a lab. But there wasn’t any visual information showing what I might get to do in research, or what kind of faculty I would be working with.” He and Calysta agreed that creating videos were the best way achieve their goal. “We hoped to clarify the research themes and what each of the areas is about with a more human touch,” Calysta explains.

Throughout the academic year, Calysta and Guanyou have organized and filmed interviews with BioE faculty and students. Their videos describe the discoveries and successes being achieved by BioE faculty and students for each of the department’s research themes. “We hope to translate their motivation and passion in research to our audience,” Calysta says.

So far, they have completed three videos. They interviewed Professor Matthew O’Donnell and undergraduate student Richard Zong for their video on imaging, instrumentation and image-guided therapy. To discuss global health and technology for expanding access to health care, they talked with Professor Paul Yager and Ph.D. student Caitlyn Anderson. Their video about biomaterials and regenerative medicine features Assistant Professor Kelly Stevens and Ph.D. alumnus Alex Jiao.

Calysta and Guanyou hope that their videos not only help students, but also reach beyond to broader audiences. Calysta sees the videos benefiting industry partners and the general public. Guanyou agrees, “I believe the project could help prospective students or the public get to know more about our department and its research/academic culture.”

Calysta discovered bioengineering as a high school student, and became interested in cardiovascular tissue engineering. She currently works in Assistant Professor Deok-Ho Kim’s lab, where she is applying engineering techniques to create cardiac tissue for in vitro studies. Her goal is to better understand the structure and function of tissue, and how it is effected by disease or injury. “I believe that tissue engineering provides a lot of insights to pathology through disease modelling and therapeutic effects,” she explains.

Guanyou also became interested in bioengineering as a high school student. “I was interested in building things since I was little, and biology was my favorite subject,” he says. He saw bioengineering as the perfect way to combine both of these interests. Currently a member of Professor Miqin Zhang’s lab in UW’s materials science and engineering (MSE) department, he is researching nanoparticle drug delivery for breast and brain cancers.

When asked what they have enjoyed the most about their time in the BioE major, both Calysta and Guanyou say that they’ve enjoyed being part of a close-knit, friendly academic community. “We get to know most of the students in our cohort. We help and teach each other when we have questions about classes.” They also cite the close, supportive relationships that students can build with faculty and academic counselors as important to the BioE student experience.

Both Calysta and Guanyou will continue at UW after they graduate in June. Calysta is pursuing a master’s in BioE, and Guanyou will start a Ph.D. in MSE in the fall. They hope that other BioE students carry on their vision by completing videos for molecular and cellular engineering, and for systems, synthetic and quantitative biology. They are eager to advise and collaborate on the project going forward.

Calysta and Guanyou’s project was advised by Laura Wright, BioE web information and communications specialist. The BioE honors program is led by Lecturer Dianne Hendricks.

Interested in getting involved in the BioE research themes video project? Contact Lecturer Dianne Hendricks at dgh5@uw.edu.