2020 Annual Report


Human-Centered Engineering for Unprecedented Times

The 2019-2020 academic year brought unique challenges on a global scale. During most of the year, research, instruction and operations continued as usual with innovative research and discoveries as engaged students worked together in classrooms and labs. Suddenly, along with the rest of the world, we adapted to the “new normal” brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Bioengineering at The University of Texas at Dallas proved to be agile and responsive, quickly transitioning to remote operations while maintaining a high quality student learning experience. Faculty expanded research to include areas relevant to the COVID-19 crisis.

As we continue to move through the uncharted waters of COVID-19, the faculty, staff, and students in the Department of Bioengineering at UT Dallas remain even more committed to engaging in globally relevant work, improving lives and training tomorrow’s biomedical engineers to take on the next challenges. Join us, virtually or in person, during the 2020-2021 academic year as we celebrate 10 years as a department!

Dr. Shalini Prasad
Head of the Department of Bioengineering
Cecil H. and Ida Green Professor of Systems Biology Science


Human-Centered Engineering

This year, we celebrate 10 years since the department’s founding and mark the department’s rapid progress.

Over the past half century, we have seen computer technology advance at a rapid speed. One of the greatest challenges of this new century is the development of highly technical solutions to medical conditions. The Department of Bioengineering at UT Dallas, one of the fastest growing programs at the University, is well-positioned to create the next generation of engineers proficient at working with both advanced electronics and biological tissue. Biomedical engineering integrates engineering problem solving with medicine and biology.

Students who choose this exciting and challenging major will go on to engineer and innovate medical solutions that will reduce health care costs, improve human health and increase the quality of life for all humankind. The interdisciplinary, hands-on approach to biomedical engineering combines expertise in electrical, mechanical and materials engineering, coupled with the life sciences.

The graduate program grants degrees in biomedical engineering and offers students collaboration opportunities with UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Welcome Dr. Girgis Obaid

The Department of Bioengineering is pleased to introduce our newest faculty member, Dr. Girgis Obaid. Obaid’s research interests include photo-dynamic therapy and image-guided delivery.

Obaid is a member of the International Photodynamic Association (IPA), the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) and the American Society of Photobiology (ASP), as well as several additional societies. Previously, Obaid served at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Obaid’s research is supported by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI) K99/R00 award and focuses on nanomedicine, molecular imaging and light-activated cancer therapy.

Education Research Interests
BS in Biochemistry, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England

PhD in Chemistry, University of East Anglia, Norwich, England

Postdoctoral Fellow and Instructor, Massachusetts General Hospitaland Harvard Medical School
Molecular targeted nanotherapeutics
Molecular imaging
Precision medicine
Optically activatable cancer therapeutics
Photonically active nanomaterials
Cancers of the head and neck

Faculty Recognition

Our faculty have been recognized both nationally and internationally by their peers as well as by their colleagues at The University of Texas at Dallas. They excel both in the laboratory and the classroom, as top researchers and dedicated educators.

Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)
Dr. Stuart Cogan
Dr. Baowei Fei
Dr. Joseph Pancrazio
Dr. Jie Zheng

Fellow of the Society for Lab Automation and Screening (SLAS)
Dr. Shalini Prasad

Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Dr. Orlando Auciello
Dr. Kenneth Hoyt

UT Dallas President’s Teaching Excellence Award in Undergraduate Education
Dr. Danieli Rodrigues

Finalist nominee for the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award (University of Texas System)
Dr. Danieli Rodrigues

Fellow of the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM)
Dr. Kenneth Hoyt

Early Investigator Award at the 2019 International Photodynamic Association World Congress
Dr. Girgis Obaid


The Department of Bioengineering has attracted highly qualified faculty members including the University’s own Vice President for Research, Dr. Joseph Pancrazio, and Dr. Shalini Prasad, head of the Department of Bioengineering, who leads a robust, comprehensive research laboratory with collaborations across the University. Several faculty have received endowed chairs and other awards in honor of their accomplishments.

Tenure System Faculty

Teaching Faculty

Affiliated Faculty

Poras Balsara, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Dinesh Bhatia, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Carlos Busso, Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Xianming Simon Dai, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Crystal Engineer, Research Assistant Professor, Texas Biomedical Device Center (TxBDC)

Jeremiah Gassensmith, Assistant Professor, Chemistry

John Hart, Jr., Professor, Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Fatemeh Hassanipour, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Mahadevan Iyer, Research Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Michael Kilgard, Professor, Behavioral and Brain Sciences

David Lary, Associate Professor, Physics, William B. Hanson Center for Space Science

Yi Li, Postdoctoral Research Associate

Ann Majewicz Fey, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Faruck Marcos, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Issa Panahi, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Balakrishnan Prabhakaran, Professor, Computer Science

Zhenpeng Qin, Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

Robert Rennaker, Professor, Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Adjunct Faculty

Yasin Dhaher, Professor, Bioengineering, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Ibrahim Hashim, Professor, Department of Pathology, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Anke Henning, Professor, Bioengineering, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Lan Ma, Lecturer, Fischell Department of Bioengineering, University of Maryland

Vinay Nagaraj, Medical Science Liaison, AngioDynamics

Hyun-Joo Nam, Consultant, RES Group Inc.

Alexander Pertsemlidis, Associate Professor, Bioengineering, Department of Pediatrics UT Health San Antonio – Greehey Children’s Cancer Institute

Matthew Petroll, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Jennifer Seifert, Director, Research and Development, TissueGen, Inc.

Jay Shah, Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Sports Medicine Service UT Southwestern Medical Center

Tre Welch, Assistant Professor, Cardio Thoracic Surgery, UT Southwestern Medical Center


Interdisciplinary research, especially in clinical settings, is at the core of human-centered engineering. The department has cultivated research partnerships with organizations including UT Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW) and hospitals including the Dallas VA Medical Center. With research opportunities for undergraduate through PhD students, the program is preparing the next generation of researchers as well as future physicians who will be well-versed in emergent technologies for health care.

Research Financials

UT Southwestern Medical Center Collaborations

Faculty and students in the Department of Bioengineering at UT Dallas collaborate with UTSW researchers and clinicians to bring groundbreaking discoveries into practice.

UT Dallas welcomed two new doctoral students conducting research with Dr. Yasin Dhaher, professor in the Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Orthopaedic Surgery at UTSW. Additionally, during the spring 2020 semester, six UT Dallas bioengineering undergraduate students conducted research in UTSW labs with Dr. Matthew Petroll, Dr. Elena Vinogradov and Dr. Yasin Dhaher.

Research Areas

Dr. Victor Varner and Dr. David Schmidtke worked with UTSW faculty on three different projects:

    They investigated corneal keratocyte healing following injury to the eye with Dr. Matthew Petroll, professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at UTSW. This research is funded by a $1.8M grant from the National Institutes of Health. UT Dallas students Kevin Lam and Tarik Shihabeddin are currently working on this project.

    They are studying the role of spatial protein presentation in kidney epithelial cell tubule formation. Members of the Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine at UTSW including Dr. Thomas Carroll, Dr. Denise Marciano and Dr. Ondine Cleaveras well as UT Dallas students Tarik Shihabeddin and Gauri Renake contributed to this project.

    They studied muscle cell responsiveness to overactive bladder medications with Dr. Philippe Zimmern from the Department of Urology.

    Baowei Fei

    Dr. David Schmidtke is working with UTSW faculty on three additional projects:

    Development of novel microfluidic devices for intracellular protein delivery with Dr. Nikhil Munshi, associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine. UT Dallas student Chaitra Telang works on this project.

    Regulation of host inflammation by NADPH oxidase 2 signaling with Dr. Jessica Moreland, professor in the Department of Pediatrics.

    Effect of high shear on neutrophil function in VAD patients with Dr. Matthias Peltz, associate professor in the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery.

    Baowei Fei

    Dr. Baowei Fei is working with Dr. Ivan Pedrosa, professor in the Department of Radiology at UTSW, to develop machine learning and radiomics techniques to assess the aggressiveness of renal cell carcinoma and to predict therapeutic response.

    Funded through a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) grant, Fei also collaborates with Dr. Baran Sumer and Dr. Larry Myers to develop a smart surgical microscope for rapid cancer detection during surgery. The device combines hyperspectral imaging with artificial intelligence.

    Dr. Girgis Obaid initiated a research collaboration with Dr. Debabrata Saha, associate professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology, to establish the radiation dose dependence of excited photo-activable nanoparticles for cancer therapy. The dose parameters will then be used to compare photodynamic therapy and radiotherapy using bioengineered tumor-specific nanoparticles in vitro and in animal models of head and neck cancer. UT Dallas undergraduate student Mina Guirguis is gaining research experience through work on this project.

    Dr. Danieli Rodrigues, associate professor, collaborated with Dr. Javier LaFontaine, professor in the Department of Plastic Surgery, and Dr. George Tye Liu, associate professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, to develop innovative orthopedic implant surface approaches toinduce healing in diabetic patients. UT Dallas students Alexandra Arteaga, Lidia Guida, and Jiayi Qu are working on this project.

    Dr. Heather Hayenga, assistant professor, collaborated with Dr. Kimberly Kho, in gynecology, to develop a permanent intrafallopian tube contraceptive device. UT Dallas student Lucero Ramirez is working on this project.


    Bioengineering students have unique opportunities to excel in research, as well as participate in the Jonsson School’s signature UTDesign® Capstone program where they put their expertise to work toward solving real-world problems.

    Enrollment And Degrees

    Bioengineering Student Awards

    Students have received significant awards in the past year, including nationally prestigious fellowships. As the program has grown exponentially over the years, it has attracted students who are serious about gaining the mentorship and research opportunities needed to excel in their fields.

    Graduate And Alumni

    Excellence in EducationDoctoral Fellowship
    to Kaitlin Rabe, Winner
    Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science,UT Dallas, Dallas, TX

    The Rehab Week Award
    to Hassan Jahanandish, Finalist
    IEEE/RAS-EMBS International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics (ICORR) and RehabWeek, Toronto, CA

    Three Minute Thesis(3MT)

    Kara Peak
    Excellence in EducationDoctoral Fellowship to Emily Levy, Winner
    Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science,UT Dallas, Dallas, TX

    National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship Program to Jacob Boehm, Finalist
    U.S. Department of Defense, Washington, DC

    National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
    Danny Lam '18
    PhD student at Case Western Reserve University


    Bioengineering Departmental Undergraduate Research Competition

    1st: Joel Epperson
    Use of Retrieval Tasks to Rehabilitate Sensorimotor Impairments Due to Brain Injury
    PI: Dr. Nicholas Fey

    2nd: Alikhan Fidai
    A Failure Mechanism Analysis of ZirconiaDental Implant Systems
    PI: Dr. Danieli Rodrigues

    3rd: Jeremy Warren
    Atrial Septal Defect Generation forModeling with Finite Elements
    PI: Dr. Clark Meyer (Dr. Heather HayengaLab)

    4th: Smriti Natarajan
    Late-colonizing Bacterial Adhesion on Surface-treated Titanium vs Zirconia
    PI: Dr. Danieli Rodrigues
    IEEE Region 5 Outstanding Student Member Award
    MD FiazIslam Bhuiyan
    PI: Dr. Baowei Fei

    Intuitive Best Student Paper Award at the International Conference of SPIE Medical Imaging
    Matthew Pfefferle
    PI: Dr. Baowei Fei

    National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
    Honorable Mention
    Benjamin Allsup

    Student Organizations

    Alpha Eta Mu Beta (AEMB)

    The organization was established, and officers were selected, in late fall 2019. Membership opened in early spring 2020 and began meeting spring 2020.

    Faculty Mentor: Shashank Sirsi
    President: Emma Henderson
    Vice President: Megan Zachariah
    Secretary: Alikhan Fidai
    Treasurer: Han Lai

    Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)

    The BMES student chapter officers for AY19-20 were:

    President - Ben Allsup
    Vice-President - Emma Henderson
    Secretary - Sruthi Dubagunta
    Treasurer - Ashleigh Abusomwan

    Bioengineering Graduate Student Association

    In the first year of operation, the BMEN Graduate Student Association hosted several workshops, seminars, socials, and other events for Bioengineering MS and PhD students. New students were welcomed at the beginning of each semester with departmental socials; including a scavenger hunt and bingo competition. Bioengineering labs participated in pie making and pumpkin carving contests during the fall semester, and students attended a holiday party with cookie decorating for some end-of-semester relaxation. The BMEN GSA organized practice sessions for qualifying exams, where PhD students could present their research plan and get feedback from their peers. The group also hosted speakers from Abbott Neuromodulation and several UT Dallas offices who discussed industry and academic careers while providing resources for career development and skill-building.

    Officers 2019-2020

    President: Rebecca Frederick
    Vice President: Sayali Upasham
    Treasurer: Aditi Bellary
    Historian: Joshua Usoro
    Public Relations Chair: Lucero Ramirez
    Alumni Outreach Chair: Muskan Pawar

    UTDesign® Capstone

    The UTDesign® Capstone program is designed to provide a hands-on learning opportunity for students.

    In the program, senior undergraduate students earning degrees in biomedical engineering work in teams to solve real-world problems for corporate and University sponsors over two semesters. While the studio space was closed to students following the COVID-19 campus lockdown in spring of 2020, several teams continued to work on their projects remotely.

    "We have merged the biomedical and mechanical engineering capstone classes to provide a richer experience for our students,” said Dr. Todd Polk, faculty sponsor. “On average, more than 50% of the teams are multidisciplinary, with students from both biomedical and mechanical engineering as well as students from electrical and computer engineering,” said Dr. Joe Pacheco, faculty sponsor. “We strive to provide our students with a real world engineering experience and have organized UTDesign® Capstone like a company.” Polk added, “We treat them like working engineers from day one, and the overall experience has proved to be highly beneficial to them as they enter the professional world after graduation."

    At A Glance

    Summer 2019 Through Spring 2020

    27 teams with bioengineering students 101 bioengineering teams participated

    Interdisciplinary Team Sponsors

    Abbott Laboratories
    Bridging Biosciences
    Essilor Group
    Klockner Pentaplast Group
    Mechanical Ingenuity Corp.
    Motorola Solutions Inc.

    Bleris Laboratory,
    The University of Texas at Dallas

    Fei Laboratory,
    The University of Texas at Dall

    NanoTech Institute,
    The University of Texas at Dallas

    Sirsi Laboratory,
    The University of Texas at Dallas

    UT Southwestern Medical Center

    ThorMed Innovation

    UTDesign® EXPO
    Winning Team

    Fall 2019

    Winning team “Nephrolitics” created a real-time kidney function monitoring system for sponsor UT Southwestern Medical Center. Team members from left to right include seniors Ryan Finnie, mechanical engineering; Justin McFarlane, biomedical engineering; Luis Jule, biomedical engineering; Saud Madani, mechanical engineering; Alexander Harper, mechanical engineering; and Daniel Kaminski, biomedical engineering.

    BMEN 10th Anniversary


    Save The Date

    10 Year Symposium

    April 8-9, 2021