Looking Back at EMBC 2014: Students’ Voices

The 36th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC’14) was held from 26-30 August 2014 at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Chicago, Illinois, USA. The overall theme of the conference was “Discovering, Innovating, and Engineering Future Biomedicine,” which covered diverse topics areas including cutting-edge biomedical and healthcare technology research and development, clinical applications, and biomedical education.

The conference is indeed the world’s largest and most diverse congregation of biomedical researchers and it attracted nearly 3600 visitors, including around 800 students. To encourage our student attendees, many of them first time visitors to a scientific conference, a dedicated group of EMBS volunteers put together an engaging series of activities for students and young professionals. These activities included free networking lunches with EMB leaders, workshops to develop scientific presentations and technical writing, sessions for career advice, and networking receptions for enabling like-minded individuals at similar stages in their careers to meet, bond, and make connections with their peers across the globe [1]. These activities connect the member communities and help shape a better future, for themselves, the society and profession, and also the progress of technology for humanity [2]. As with every yearly conference, here we share some snapshots of the student events that unfolded, and also bring together a collection of student feedback that we received from our attendees – who span the globe and stand testimony to the vibrant culture and sense of collaboration in BME [3-5].

Feedback from Students

“I did not know what to expect, although I had heard good things from faculty and students about the conference. During the conference, I gained exposure to research projects, some of which gave me ideas of methods to consider in furthering my own health-related engineering research. The overarching theme was that EMBC is an ideal venue to network with experts from all fields of work. My most memorable experience was meeting and receiving feedback from renowned researchers, many of whose publications I have studied. Participating in the student paper competition afforded me the opportunity to present and defend my work to a geographically diverse audience. I highly encourage other students to consider submitting their research work to EMBC and to be engaged in all aspects of the conference.”
– Temiloluwa Olubanjo (Georgia Tech, USA) – Winner of EMBS Student Paper Contest 2014

Finalists of the IEEE EMBS Student Paper Contest receiving their award certificates from EMBS President Bruce Wheeler.

Finalists of the IEEE EMBS Student Paper Contest receiving their award certificates from EMBS President Bruce Wheeler.

“I was really glad that I got the opportunity to attend EMBC for the second time. Similar to last year, I looked forward to the student activities. I also learned from last year: this time I was early enough to register for a “Lunch with Leaders” and the “Women in Engineering Luncheon & Minisymposium.” It was fun chatting, talking, and hearing the experiences of other young students and also more skilled (female) leaders. On Friday, I took the opportunity and attended the “Tips on Effective Presentation Design and Delivery Workshop,” the “Technical Writing Workshop,” the “Career Advice Session,” and finally, the “Young Professionals & Student Networking Reception.” On this day, I got so many new impressions and ideas for future research and plans for the future and had a nice evening talking to new people with good food (e.g., deep dish pizza, Japanese soup, and chocolate fondue). It’s always easier to chat to new people with a great atmosphere. I already look forward to the next year’s EMB conference.”
– Heike Leutheuser (Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany)

LEFT: Student volunteer Heike (FAU, Germany) presenting her research in a poster session. RIGHT: A visual from the popular Lunch with Leaders session where a group of students share their thoughts and brainstorm ideas with an eminent researcher in the community.

LEFT: Student volunteer Heike (FAU, Germany) presenting her research in a poster session. RIGHT: A visual from the popular Lunch with Leaders session where a group of students share their thoughts and brainstorm ideas with an eminent researcher in the community.

“As a PhD student from Auckland, New Zealand, it is always a treat to attend international conferences and this year’s EMBC in Chicago was no exception. From the extremely interesting keynotes, to the helpful and informative student learning sessions, I found myself rooted in the conference halls throughout the day. Being my third attendance, I was able to recognize a few familiar faces that I met at previous EMBCs. I found a great deal of excitement and pleasure in catching up with these fellow researchers, discussing our respective research progress, new techniques developed, and the possibility of future collaboration opportunities.”
– Luqman Bachtiar (The University of Auckland, New Zealand)

Exploring the city of Chicago in the evening with friends was also quite the experience. This photo taken atop the Willis Tower shows the coming together of researchers from different institutions. Top: Bart Spronck (Maastricht University), Dr. Alys Clark (Auckland Bioengineering Institute), Jenny Parawan (California Polytechnic State University), Dr. Brian Ruddy (Auckland Bioengineering Institute). Bottom: Luqman Bachtiar (The University of Auckland), Ming Cheuk (Auckland Bioengineering Institute), Stefan Calder (Auckland Bioengineering Institute).

Exploring the city of Chicago in the evening with friends was also quite the experience. This photo taken atop the Willis Tower shows the coming together of researchers from different institutions. Top: Bart Spronck (Maastricht University), Dr. Alys Clark (Auckland Bioengineering Institute), Jenny Parawan (California Polytechnic State University), Dr. Brian Ruddy (Auckland Bioengineering Institute). Bottom: Luqman Bachtiar (The University of Auckland), Ming Cheuk (Auckland Bioengineering Institute), Stefan Calder (Auckland Bioengineering Institute).

“In my point of view, the conference was incredible, starting with the opening plenary talk by Leroy Hood, who has done a lot of outstanding research for the systems biology community. I was so astonished hearing his accomplishments. This lecture was so inspiring for me as I’d just started my PhD in bioinformatics at the University of Illinois at Chicago only one week before the conference. Other significant features were the student activities, events, sessions for how to plan our future, meetings with entrepreneurs, and also social events as exceptional opportunities for gaining life experiences and networking. Above all, the conference organizers were fantastic as it is not easy to organize such a big conference with the huge number of talks and participants in a very professional way like they did. Last but not least, you won’t believe how great EMBC is unless you attend it. So, see you all in Milano 2015!!”
– Ahmed Abdelhadi Metwally (University of Illinois, Chicago, and Chair, 1st EMBS International Student Conference, Cairo, Egypt)

“I attended EMBC 2014 because I earned the first paper award at EMBS ISC’13 in Cairo, Egypt, and was invited to participate in the conference in Chicago. It was a great scientific meeting and a beneficial opportunity for me to learn, network, and have fun. Not only did I present my paper and learn from the comments, I also attended keynote speeches, oral and poster sessions, and gathered as much information as possible regarding my favorite topics. I am now encouraged to pursue my academic career with a clear insight toward my future paths inspired by the wide range of subjects covered in the conference. Moreover, I benefited from understanding the culture of the meeting and the scientists and researchers from all over the world. I wish to have the chance to participate in other EMB conferences, especially EMBC’15!”
– Azam Hamidinekoo (Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran)

Winner of Best Paper in EMBS ISC 2013 (A) Azam (SUT, Iran) presented her research at EMBC 2014, and (B) Prof. Ronald Newbower (Massachusetts General Hospital) inspiring and advising students on innovation, culture, and career pathways over the lunch session. He also chaired the APF-CIMIT Primary-Care Technology Competition, the winning student projects of which were showcased at the conference as a mini-symposium. More details about ISC and innovations at EMBS can be accessed in [6, 7]

Winner of Best Paper in EMBS ISC 2013 (A) Azam (SUT, Iran) presented her research at EMBC 2014, and (B) Prof. Ronald Newbower (Massachusetts General Hospital) inspiring and advising students on innovation, culture, and career pathways over the lunch session. He also chaired the APF-CIMIT Primary-Care Technology Competition, the winning student projects of which were showcased at the conference as a mini-symposium. More details about ISC and innovations at EMBS can be accessed in [6, 7]

“Attending the conference was a great experience because I had the opportunity to participate in many high-profile lectures, poster sessions, exhibitions, and other activities that covered a large range of topics about biomedical and healthcare technology. Furthermore, it was an honor to represent the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society Student Branch Chapter at the Fundacao Universidade Federal do ABC and receive the Best New Student Chapter 2014 award. It was very inspiring to meet and talk to members from around the world that are part of the EMBS and certainly this experience motivates me to expand increasingly the activities of the student chapter and attract new minds to our society.”
– Carolina Marques Velho (Universidade Federal do ABC, Brazil)

“It has been a great experience attending EMBC 2014 as an awardee in Chicago. I felt it was a special forum to meet some of the great people who were making significant contributions to the field of biomedical engineering, and learn some of the best strategies to become successful in life. The sessions were very informative, and are valuable for me to take my research work to the next level. The student activities were very interesting, and I especially liked the “Lunch with Leaders” session. The conference venue was a cool place with a river flowing beside it. The conference was not only technical sessions, but there was fun too! The welcome reception was grand and the ambience during a dinner in Adler Planetarium was awesome. In short, I would like to say that some of the experiences I had during this conference will remain as an invaluable treasure of moments to be cherished in my life.”
– Anvesh Samineni (VIT Vellore, India)

Student Chairs (LEFT) Carolina (UFABC, Brazil) receiving the Best New EMBS Student Club/Chapter Award, and (RIGHT) Anvesh Samineni (VIT Vellore, India) receiving the Outstanding EMBS Student Club/Chapter Award from the EMBS President, Bruce Wheeler. We thank both of them for their contributions to the society and congratulate the respective Chapters for their achievements.

Student Chairs (LEFT) Carolina (UFABC, Brazil) receiving the Best New EMBS Student Club/Chapter Award, and (RIGHT) Anvesh Samineni (VIT Vellore, India) receiving the Outstanding EMBS Student Club/Chapter Award from the EMBS President, Bruce Wheeler. We thank both of them for their contributions to the society and congratulate the respective Chapters for their achievements.

EMBC is indeed a great event championing the causes of technical advancements, volunteering and innovation—exemplified by the presentation of highest quality research and participation in student programs, attendance of volunteers and student leaders, and organization of events promoting an environment of innovation and collaboration. As the 2014 edition of the conference draws to an end, we would like to share our heart filled thanks towards the active and dedicated group of local and international volunteers who made possible the organization of such an extraordinary event. Finally, we extend our invitation to all our student members, volunteers, and interested readers to take part in the upcoming 37th Annual International Conference in the beautiful city of Milan. We welcome you all!

References

  1. Lisa Lazareck and Mary McDougall, “Tailoring EMBC’14 for Students and Young Professionals” Pulse, IEEE , June 4, 2014
  2. Mandal, S., “Connecting Through Conferences: From participation in student activities to organizing and beyond [Student’s Corner],” Pulse, IEEE, vol.5, no.4, pp.7, 9, July-Aug. 2014.
  3. EMBC 2013: Meeting in the Land of the Rising Stars [EMBC 2013: Osaka, Japan],” Pulse, IEEE , vol.4, no.5, pp.9,11, Sept. 2013.
  4. Rutherford, J.J., “Collaboration and Celebration at EMBC 2012 [EMBC 2012: San Diego],” Pulse, IEEE , vol.3, no.6, pp.14,25, Nov. 2012.
  5. Yan, I., “Looking Back at EMBC 2011: Student Activities’ Highlights [Student’s Corner],” Pulse, IEEE , vol.3, no.1, pp.8,10, Jan. 2012.
  6. Abdelhadi, A., “IEEE EMBS International Student Conference [Society News],” Pulse, IEEE , vol.5, no.1, pp.84,85, Jan.-Feb. 2014.
  7. Mandal, S., “Frugal Innovations for Global Health — Perspectives for Students [Student’s Corner],” Pulse, IEEE , vol.5, no.1, pp.11,13, Jan.-Feb. 2014.