Virginia Commonwealth University's Bioinformatics and Bioengineering Summer Institute accepts (mostly undergraduate) students every year into a two-year program, designed to make tangible, through an intense research experience, the possibilities of a career in bioinformatics or bioengineering.   Each student receives $3500 for each of the two summers, a paid room on campus and financial support for their project during the two summers and the academic year.

During the first summer of the program, Cadet Williamson will focus on specific projects through research simulations and actual research.  The next academic year he will continue the research experience at VMI through a plan worked out with a home mentor.  Cadet Williamson’s mentor will be MAJ Matt Hyre in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.   The second summer is intended to develop a broader view of bioinformatics and bioengineering.

The primary goal of the program is to help students see the excitement of a creative life in bioinformatics and bioengineering.  Additionally, students will be led through a successful research experience and integrated into the fabric of an international research community.

Cadet Williamson hopes to get involved in research associated with articular cartilage in order to better the lives of those who suffer from arthritis.  He has already made steps in that direction by initiating an undergraduate research project with MAJ Hyre that looks at the possibility of correlating finite element modal analyses of human bone with in vivo bone responses.  These FEM models will take into account the complex interactions of the bone with tissue, cartilage, and ligaments.  The ultimate goal of this research is to be able to use computational modeling to diagnose bone disease and fracture healing rates.

"This is a real nice achievement for Cadet Williamson. It will give him exposure to an integrated biology/mathematics/engineering program at the graduate level. I'll be serving as his VMI advisor for the next couple of years as the interface to VCU. We'll be continuing the biomedical work he started this semester. He'll fit in well in this program." - Maj. Matt Hyre, VMI ME dept.