Fred S. Grodins Graduate Symposium Turns 21

| May 8, 2017

USC Viterbi Department of Biomedical Engineering lauded students in its annual graduate student research symposium.

USC Viterbi Department Chair of Biomedical Engineering, Ellis Meng (far right) celebrates with some of the Grodins Symposium graduate students, (from far left) Julio Villalon, Samantha Ma and Xin Miao. Photo credit/Valentina Suarez

Turning 21 can symbolize freedom and independence.

On April 14, it meant celebrating a time-honored tradition for the USC Viterbi Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME). At the 21st Fred S. Grodins Research Symposium, nearly 90 graduate students showcased efforts that will serve as a foundation to their future research independence down the road. The annual event happened in the Grand Ballroom of the Radisson Hotel Los Angeles Midtown at USC.

The day-long affair consisted of three separate podium sessions featuring eight total BME Ph.D. students who presented the fruits of their research. Each presentation was followed by a brief Q&A session for faculty and other students to pose questions.

In two separate “Coffee and Posters” breakout sessions, 88 BME doctoral students showcased their research posters related to various topics within the four major research areas of the department: Biosystems and Signals; Cell and Tissue Engineering; Neuroengineering; and Devices and Diagnostics.

Mischalgrace Diasanta, BME graduate student advisor, has eleven years under her belt shepherding the event. She explains that the symposium began as a forum for BME graduate students to present their current research work and future plans.  Each year, the department selects five Ph.D. students to form the symposium organizing committee. The committee is then in charge to plan and fundraise for the event under Diasanta’s supervision.

“This symposium is student-organized and student-run,” Diasanta said. “It provides an opportunity for the faculty and current graduate students to exchange ideas on the various areas of ongoing research activity in BME.”

2017 Grodins Symposium panelists (from left): Dr. Jennifer A. Neff, Dr. Helga Van Herle, and Dr. Molly Schmid. Photo credit/Valentina Suarez

Toward the event’s close, Ellis Meng, Dwight C. and Hildagarde E. Baum Chair and BME department chair, gave an address to highlight the year’s successes followed by a panel discussion titled “The Development and Future of Biomedical Engineering,”  including three key industry players: Molly Schmid, Ph.D. Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the USC Marshall School of Business and Senior Counselor at the Tritech Small Business Development Center; Helga Van Herle, M.D., M.S. Cardiologist at USC Keck and Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine; and Jennifer A. Neff, Ph.D. and CEO of Allvivo Vascular, Inc.

To cap the day, the graduate students received the following awards:

Grodins Service AwardNethika Ariyasinghe
Grodins Service AwardAlexander Baldwin
Grodins Service AwardVictor Barradas-Patiño
Grodins Service AwardElizabeth Siegler
Grodins Service AwardAdam Mergenthal
BME Department Service AwardJoycelyn Yip
1st Year Best PosterDing Li
Cell & Tissue EngineeringDavi Lyra Leite
Cell & Tissue EngineeringYuta Ando
Biosystems & SignalsQianhui “Jess” Wu
Biosystems & SignalsChristopher Ramos
NeuroengineeringSahar Elyahoodayan
NeuroengineeringAhuva Weltman
ImagingSamantha Ma
ImagingXin Miao
ImagingJulio Villalon
Devices & Diagnostic TechnologyJames Yoo
Devices & Diagnostic TechnologyJessica Ortigoza-Diaz
Grodins Platform Runner-Up AwardSamantha McBirney
Grodins Platform 1st Place AwardSara Madaan
Grodins Graduate AwardLeonardo Nava-Guerra
USC Stevens Most Innovative Award*Ahuva Weltman
USC Stevens Best Commercial Potential Award*Joycelyn Yip

*Award paid by Stevens

This year’s event sponsors included Abbvie, Agilent Technologies, the Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering (AMI-USC), the USC Graduate Student Government, MathWorks, ThorLabs, and the Viterbi Graduate Student Association (VGSA).

For more information and photography from the event, please visit

To view the Flickr photo album of the event, click here.

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