Category Archives: ERC-RMB

Local high school students spend six weeks at A&T working as bioengineering researchers

Members of the 2012 ERC Young Scholars program

Faculty advisor Vernal Alford and the 2012 ERC Young Scholars (from left): Shira Chandler, Dondre McCaskill, Brianna Hargett, Aditya Badve, Ephraim Bililign and Aditya Garg.

If you ask Greensboro high school student Brianna Hargett what she did over the summer, you won’t get a typical answer. She’ll tell you about her research in automatic imaging analysis of biomaterials.

Ms. Hargett and five fellow students from local high schools didn’t have ordinary summers. They spent six weeks as hands-on bioengineering researchers at the Engineering Research Center (ERC) at North Carolina A&T.

As participants in the ERC’s Young Scholars program, they worked on the center’s core projects alongside N.C. A&T professors and graduate students, as well as eight local high school and community college teachers and nine undergraduates from universities around the nation.

Details on the research teams and their projects.

Shira Chandler and Dondre McCaskill worked on the design and analysis of biodegradable magnesium screws to reconstruct knee ligaments.

For Ephraim Bililign, it was design and testing of biomedical materials, and Aditya Garg worked on corrosion testing of magnesium alloys.  Aditya Badve was part of a team working on how to improve those studies.

They’re all excellent students, but when ERC researchers talk about them, another word that keeps coming up is “driven.”

“It’s big stuff that they’re working on, but they love it because they’re hanging with the big guys,” says Dr. Jagannathan Sankar, ERC director and professor of mechanical engineering.

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NSF, FDA, A&T organize international workshop on biodegradable metals for medical implants

The National Science Foundation and the Food and Drug Administration are teaming up with N.C. A&T and Germany’s Hannover Medical School to hold a daylong public workshop on the emerging field of biodegradable metals.

“State of the Art in Biodegradable Metals: A Food & Drug Administration logoThink-Tank Workshop” will be held Friday, March 30, at the FDA’s White Oak campus in Silver Spring, Maryland. It is expected to draw researchers from around the world. The agenda and registration information are available at the event’s website,

“This conference provides a unique opportunity for global experts in the field of biodegradable metals to come together to review the current status of the field, to identify key challenges remaining, and to explore opportunities to meet those challenges through collaboration,” said Dr. Jagannathan Sankar, director of the NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials at N.C. A&T.

“We hope this session will be the first of many that will help accelerate access to this technology, which promises better outcomes for patients.”

Biodegradable metal implants have potential in certain types of surgery, including orthopedic, craniofacial and cardiovascular, through the use of devices that safely degrade once they are no longer needed. This could eliminate the need for surgical removal of devices.

The conference will cover the breadth of current knowledge in the field, especially regarding magnesium-based systems such as those being developed by the ERC.  Hannover is an ERC research partner, as are the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Cincinnati.

Sessions will cover such topics as in vivo studies of magnesium implants in musculoskeletal and cardiovascular applications, corrosion control, cytotoxicity, alloy design and characterization, sensor technology, and biodegradable iron.

Presenters will include a select group of global experts from academia, large industries, small entrepreneurial networks, and the FDA. A panel discussion will cover current views on this technology.

A quick weekend read: ERC wins SBIR grant

Front page of The Business Journal, December 9, 2011, editionThe NSF Engineering Research Center for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials is starting the commercialization process for its biodegradable implant technology for reconstruction and regeneration.  A front-page story in today’s edition of The Business Journal details the work now being funded by an SBIR grant to develop a magnesium-alloy device that aims to make spinal fusion easier and less painful.

ERC’s revolutionary nano work “on track”

Dr. Jag Sankar and DORED staff members at ERC appreciation breakfast hosted by the Division of Research

Dr. Jag Sankar (standing) and DORED staff members at an appreciation breakfast for the ERC hosted by the Division of Research this morning

“North Carolina is emerging as a hub for nanobiotechnology by combining academic research, industrial skills and political will to kick start interdisciplinary collaborations and push breakthroughs to market. One of the stars of the show is Greensboro-based North Carolina A & T State University (NCAT), which was awarded Engineering Research Center status by the NSF in 2008.”

ERC director Dr. Jag Sankar is interviewed in a posting today on, a top nano news site in Europe.

This week’s ERC-Bioengineering seminar: Becoming an entrepreneurial engineer

TOPIC: Create your Future: Become an Entrepreneurial Engineer

SPEAKER: Dr. Thaddeus McEwen, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Founding Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Entrepreneurship and E-Business, N.C. A&T School of Business and Economics.

WHEN & WHERE: Friday, 11 11:50 a.m., McNair Hall Auditorium (Room 240).  The ERC-Bioengineering seminar series is open to the community.

THE DETAILS: Society is experiencing unprecedented technological changes. Engineering is also changing, forcing engineers to have to function across disciplines.  Therefore, to be successful, an engineer must be able to think and act as an entrepreneur.  The presentation will discuss industry requirements, the many roles that engineers play, and the need for entrepreneurial skills for success in an existing business or in starting a company.  A general overview of the N.C. A&T Entrepreneurship Program, through the Interdisciplinary Center for Entrepreneurship and E-Business (ICEEB), and how it can help our engineering students develop entrepreneurial thinking will be presented.  Emphasis will be placed on the program components, including the strong experiential learning aspect, collaborative efforts with various engineering departments, and ideas for possible joint programs with the ERC to help students translate their research and other project ideas into viable business opportunities.

This week’s ERC-Bioengineering seminar: Nanoparticles’ effects on human airway cells

TOPIC: In vitro Analysis of the Influence of Anthropogenic and Biogenic Nanomaterials on Human Airway Cells

SPEAKER: Christa Watson, PhD Candidate in Energy and Environmental Systems

WHEN & WHERE: Friday, 11 11:50 a.m., McNair Hall auditorium

THE DETAILS: Nanotoxicology is the study of the potential toxic effects of anthropogenic and biogenic nanostructures. The influence of nanostructures such as nanoparticles on the human airway has gained interest due to increased susceptibility of translocation into other regions of the body. Adverse effects such as oxidative stress and inflammation have been found after the inhalation of airborne nanoparticles in airway epithelial cells. For more details, click here.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Christa Young Watson earned her BS in Biology from N.C. A&T in 1999 and MS, magna cum laude, from A&T in 2004, also in Biology. She was a 2010-2011 Kannapolis Scholar and a 2011 American Thoracic Society Minority Trainee Travel Award recipient.  Watson is a graduate research fellow with the NSF Engineering Research Center for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials and recently accepted a NIH Postdoctoral Training Grant at the Harvard School of Public Health beginning this fall.  She’ll focus on the implications of nanomaterial exposures on lung biology.

ERC gets another $4 million and five more years

The National Science Foundation has informed the Engineering Research Center that it will fully fund the ERC’s $4 million request for fiscal 2012.  On top of that, the agency’s rave review of the ERC’s first three years has resulted in the likely extension of the project for at least three years beyond the ERC’s original five-year horizon.

The Business Journal has all the details at the top of the front page of this week’s edition (available in print and to subscribers on the newspaper’s website).  A news release from the university also has the details.

ERC and Bioengineering resume Friday seminars

The Engineering Research Center and the Bioengineering Program in the College of Engineering will continue to jointly host a seminar series this year.   The seminars are open to the entire community.  They are held on Fridays, usually from 11 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.

DATE: Friday, 08/19/2011
TIME: 11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.
LOCATION: McNair Hall Auditorium (Room 240), College of Engineering
TOPIC: “Working (Prosthetic) Hand in (Advanced Material) Glove”

SPEAKERS: Dr. Leonard Uitenham, Chairman, Department of Chemical, Biological and Bioengineering; and Dr. Jag Sankar, University Distinguished Professor and ERC Director.

This seminar is to serve to welcome new students and staff to N.C. A&T and to provide an overview of the research and educational opportunities of the ERC and the BMEN programs.

Big finish this week for ERC summer program

Students and teachers taking part in the Engineering Research Center’s summer outreach program will show off what they’ve accomplished this week.  Participants include five high school and community college teachers; nine undergraduates from Bennett, Cal State-Los Angeles, GTCC, N.C. A&T, UNC-CH and UNCC; and three high school students from Greensboro and Charlotte.

The summer outreach program provides direct, hands-on research experience in bioengineering. Undergraduates are on campus for eight weeks; teachers and high school students are here for six weeks.

The undergraduates will take part in an oral presentation competition Wednesday, 10 a.m. to noon, in the Fort IRC, Room 410.  The list of their presentation titles is here (PDF).

On Friday, teams of students, teachers and their research mentors will engage in a poster competition at 11 a.m.  the posters will be displayed on the second floor of McNair Hall.  The program’s closing ceremony and awards presentation will take place in the McNair Auditorium at 11:45 a.m.  The event’s program and list of research poster topics are here (PDF).