For fall break, I attended the annual Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) conference in Philadelphia! Students and researchers from universities across the nation were there to present research and learn about the latest advancements in the field of biomedical engineering. I was there to represent the Associated Students of Biomedical Engineering, a student-run organization that serves the specific needs of the biomedical engineering student body here at USC. There were 12 undergraduate students from USC that attended the conference!
One of the most exciting parts of the conference was the opportunity to hear from distinguished guest lecturers. These lecturers were principal investigators that have won many awards for their discoveries. My favorite lecturer was a woman named Rebecca Richards-Kortum from Rice University. Collaborating with researchers around the globe, she has implemented devices and programs to increase the chance of survival for babies with respiratory conditions in Africa. Her main message was that we cannot just introduce new medical technologies to low-resource communities and expect the nurses to use them to treat patients. We need to establish educational programs for nurses as well as work with biomedical engineers in those communities to ensure the devices are properly maintained. It was such an enlightening lecture!
Besides researchers, there are also graduate school representatives at the conference. They actively try to recruit undergraduate students for master’s and PhD programs. On Thursday night of the conference, every graduate school (including Viterbi) hosts its own reception at the Marriott hotel. At each reception, there was free catered food – crab cakes, Philly cheesesteaks, chocolate fondue, and more! We ate so much, and a couple of USC students interested in graduate schools got to network with representatives.
Next year, the conference is going to be in San Diego, and I am definitely planning on going. I am hoping to present my research either in poster format or through an oral presentation. That being said, even though I did not present my research this year, it was still an incredible experience. I learned a lot about my major, and the possibilities that come with it. I would encourage any undergraduate students to attend at least one conference during their time at USC!