The objectives of the REU Site: Wellman-HST Summer Institute for Biomedical Optics, are to provide a diverse cohort of undergraduate students with a unique opportunity to explore biomedical optics in a multidisciplinary environment at the interface of laboratory innovations and real-world applications, and to inspire them to pursue advanced research, education, and careers in science and engineering. The REU site admits eight undergraduate students to pursue full-time laboratory research for ten weeks from June to August at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. This REU site values diversity in participants' ethnicity, home institution, and academic background, and place emphasis on recruiting underrepresented groups in STEM fields. Eight faculty members with backgrounds in physics, chemistry, and engineering serve as mentors and offer a variety of research projects in diverse, yet cohesive, themes in the field of biomedical optics with emphasis on multidisciplinary approaches that integrate optical physics and engineering to address important biological questions and medical problems. The research program will enhance the ability of students to undertake interdisciplinary research on a broad range of cutting-edge topics including optical coherence tomography, implantable and wearable photonic devices, cell lasers, biomechanics, and light-activated nanomedicine. Students who make important research contributions will be fully supported to travel to professional conferences to showcase their engineering and scientific achievements. In addition to research, students will attend lectures, seminars, and professional development workshops on science communication, ethics, and innovation. Participants will enjoy various social activities and stay in a dormitory at the MIT campus, which is in close proximity to laboratories and lecture halls. This organized, cohesive, and vibrant summer program will make their summer experience go way beyond what could be provided by a typical research experience in a single lab.
Biomedical optics is a rapidly growing field, well poised to impact biological sciences and human health. This REU site is geared towards making a significant difference in the future career paths of student participants by providing a positive experience in cutting-edge research, a sense of accomplishment, and the joy of scientifically interacting with peers and professionals. Students will witness how innovative research in the lab can help solve real-world problems and thus provide tangible benefits to the society we live in. This experience will help students gain a broader and deeper perspective on research and further motivate them to pursue careers in multidisciplinary science and engineering. Interactions with mentors provide role models to the students while helping them evaluate their own future career paths. The REU site will also have a positive impact on faculty mentors by fostering active interactions and collaborations. Students will interact with overseas summer students in other ongoing international programs, building global networks. In turn, by providing positive experiences, this interaction can increase the international recognition of science and engineering in the U.S. by attracting talented undergraduates from overseas to the U.S. for higher education. The REU site is well positioned to become a national and international model for highly interdisciplinary and innovative summer research experiences for undergraduates.
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.