Graduate Students in Biomedical Engineering Present Research at TGIF! Symposium Series

Jakob Hockman presents to graduate students and faculty of the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Photo by Elizabeth DeMeo

Jakob Hockman presents to graduate students and faculty of the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

On Friday, Sept. 9, three graduate students in biomedical engineering each stood for 20 minutes before a room full of their peers and professors. The students—Ishita Tandon, Jakob Hockman, and Xiaoquan Sun—were asked to describe their research on the chalk/whiteboard using minimal powerpoint slides, and field whatever questions arose from their audience on the fly.

If this sounds a little nerve-wracking, that's precisely the point — these presentations are part of the Department of Biomedical Engineering's new TGIF! Graduate Research Symposium series, which is coordinated by assistant professor Kartik Balachandran to help graduate students prepare for future presentations to colleagues.

Balachandran said, "The objective is to train our students to think scientifically on their feet under pressure."

Raj Rao, head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, added, "The purpose of our TGIF! Research Symposium is to present our faculty and students an opportunity to get together in an informal setting and 'clinically dissect' ideas and research findings. This is a wonderful learning experience for our students and presents avenues to hone presentation skills as well."

Ishita Tandon presents to assistant professor Kartik Balachandran.

Following the presentations, the students received feedback on both content and style, ranging from tips on how to make research more accessible to how to best arrange information. Hockman, who delivered a talk on modeling nano building block (nBlocks) and controlling plasmonic response of nanomaterials and nanoparticles, said, "It was more intense than I was expecting but it was more fun too. I got stumped by a few of the questions they asked but they were good questions and helped me learn more about the subject I'm studying. I'm glad I got to experience talking to a room full of very well-educated people — better to try it now rather than wait until there is a degree or a job on the line!"

Sun, who discussed molecular dynamics simulations of poly(N-vinylcaprolactam) (PVCL), said, "It was helpful to have to capture and hold the audience's attention on some key points instead of presenting tons of information from 20 or 30 slides."

Xiaoquan Sun presents to graduate students and faculty of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. 

As the semester continues, the Department will hold four additional TGIF! Research Symposiums. Note that the talks are held at 11:30 a.m. in ENGR 304 on select Fridays, and open to all graduate students, faculty and staff of the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

The upcoming schedule is as follows:

  • Sept. 30: Garrett Easson, Prashanth Ravishankar
  • Oct. 28: Alan Woessner, Jessica Morales
  • Nov. 11: Jake Jones, John Kim
  • Dec. 2: Curran Henson, Gabby Compton



Elizabeth DeMeo, media specialist
Biomedical Engineering


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