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SyBBURE - Education

Many top U.S. universities recognize that a greater focus on experiential learning may lead to more engaged and better trained science, math and engineering students. VIIBRE faculty set early trends in this area by initiating a privately funded undergraduate research program, the Systems Biology and Bioengineering Undergraduate Research Experience (SyBBURE).

Our guiding educational principle is that human beings are natural-born experimentalists who learn best by direct, first-person observation and subsequent experimentation. After all, this is how children learn to crawl, walk, talk and do most everything in their first years. Education through the college level necessarily abstracts and removes the student from the first-person role by presenting condensed information in a lecture or textbook. We seek to reinvigorate the learning process by taking students to the very boundary of the unknown, where the answers to important questions must be determined by observation and strategic experimentation.

Our educational philosophy is interdisciplinary by definition. Scientific investigation requires whatever knowledge the problem dictates, which means that biology students may need and want to learn about computer programming to improve their experiments, and likewise, a physics or engineering student may quickly learn to appreciate the biologist's skill in cell and tissue culture. Often, the students learn cross-disciplinary skills from each other.

Microfluidic flow gradient device for studying endothelial mechanotransduction - Ian Baird
"Microfluidic flow gradient device for studying endothelial mechanotransduction" Ian Baird, Hak-Joon Sung
This figure shows an image of the velocity magnitude profile of the flow gradient microfluidic device in Comsol and a graph depicting the flow velocity distribution within the device.