This award will provide support for the annual Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering, and Biotransport Conference (SB3C) in Vail, Colorado form June 17th - 20th of 2020. This conference will bring together current and future leaders across the broad fields of bioengineering and biology to promote state-of-the-art research, collaboration, and international scientific discourse. Sessions will span a broad range of topics including Cell & Tissue Engineering, Computational Biomechanics & Diagnostic Models, and Rehabilitation & Assistive Technologies. This year’s conference will place particular emphasis on mechanobiology, which studies how physical forces and changes in the mechanical properties of cells and tissues can alter the function of an organism. The primary objective of this award is to enable the participation of students and early career scientists in the 2020 SB3C, especially those from underrepresented groups. A secondary objective is to include supporting highly-qualified student researchers who write the most meritorious scientific abstracts in the Student Paper Competition. Finally, discussions at the conference will be captured by a professional science writer and disseminated via a published paper. This will be in addition to the publicly-available conference proceedings.

Taken together, these activities will build a foundation for a more diverse professional bioengineering workforce. Offering merit-based diversity travel fellowships pay for conference registration costs for students (undergraduate and graduate), postdoctoral fellows, and early career scientists from underrepresented groups will broaden participation. All who receive these funds will participate in a novel Diversity Mentor-Mentee Event. This event will provide an environment where attendees can network, initiate long term mentoring relationships, and discuss challenging aspects of being successful researchers. Students who receive support as finalists or winners in the student paper competition can add this information to their resumes, and the competition provides an opportunity for students to develop as researchers and is a significant career boost, enhancing retention of the most talented students and providing role models for all student attendees. Finally, the creation of a scholarly publication synthesizing the state-of-the-art discussions on bridging mechanics and biology will provide a lasting, tangible record of contemporary discussions on the conference theme – “Mechanobiology: Linking physics, form and function”.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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University of Pittsburgh
United States
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