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Institute of Biological Engineering (IBE)


The annual Institute of Biological Engineering (IBE) conference serves as a showcase for USU Biological Engineering (BE) students’ excellence in research. Undergraduate and graduate students from the BE Department and USU’s Synthetic Biomanufacturing Institute travel, for the three-day conference.

The Institute of Biological Engineering is a national professional organization that aims to advance biology-inspired engineering. Among its members are university faculty, researchers, industry representatives and undergraduate and graduate students from across the nation. The conference serves as a forum for networking and as an opportunity for students to present and defend their research.

USU teams submit posters detailing their research in the poster competition and come back away with several of the competition’s awards. 

USU gains further acclaim with a place in the top five winners of the Bioethics Essay Competition. Undergraduate Sean Bedingfield won an Honorable Mention for his essay “Helices and Ladders: Impacts on ethics of the future professional world of biological engineers.”

“We compete very well at this event,” said IBE Past President and USU BE professor Ron Sims.

In keeping with the tradition of USU’s significant involvement with the IBE Council, two BE Department faculty members were re-elected to serve for the 2015 year. As members of the council, Dr. Jixun Zhan and Dr. Charles Miller will help administer the organization and provide technical direction for its future. Adding to USU’s influential role is BE undergraduate student Ryan Putman, who will serve as the National Undergraduate Representative for the IBE Council for 2015.

Involvement in the conference has positive impacts on biological engineering students, both academically and personally, according to Sims. “It connects the real world with their classroom theory,” Sims said. “It improves their observation, analysis, ability to compare and contrast and to draw conclusions. It really brings the classroom alive.”

Department IBE 2017 Representatives


Asif Rahman

Project Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center

Graduated from BE with a PhD in 2014

Elizabeth Vargis

Assistant Professor for the Department of Biological Engineering at Utah State University

Timothy Taylor

Principal Lecturer for the Department of Biological Engineering at Utah State University

Charles Miller

Associate Professor for the Department of Biological Engineering at Utah State University

Ryan Summers

Assistant Professor for the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at the University of Alabama

Graduated from BE with a Master's in 2007

Jixun Zhan

Associate Professor for the Department of Biological Engineering at Utah State University

Graduate Councilor

Anna Doloman

PhD student in the Department of Biological Engineering at Utah State University

Undergraduate Councilor

Andrew Walters

Undergraduate student in the Department of Biological Engineering at Utah State University

2017 Conference -held in Salt Lake City, Utah; from March 31 to April 1

Team Based Events

Student Capstone Design Projects Competition

This year six teams from around the country presented their student capstone design projects and competed. Here are the results from how our department did.

Award: 1st place

Title: Microalgae-based Design Alternatives for Petrochemical Waste: Treatment and Value Products

Team members: Alan Hodges, Zachary Fica, Jessica VanDarlin, Jordan Wanlass and Ronald Sims

Title: Spider Silk Bandaging and Relevant Applications for the Revolution of Wound Therapy

Team members: Danielle Gaztambide, Michael Paskett, Samuel Briggs, Ana Laura Licon, Randolph Lewis

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Award: 2nd place

Title: Amending PHB with Algal Biomass to Enhance Biodegradability

Team members: Celeste Hancock, Amanda Stoudt, Shawni Bastian, Charles Miller

Individual Events

Alan Hodges

Award: 2nd place

Competion: Graduate Student Poster Competition

Kyle Hillman presentation

Kyle Hillman

Award: Outstanding Student Presentation Award

Competion: Algae Based Systems I

Other presentations

Chad Nielsen presented his research titled Secretion of Bioplastic Polymers from Methanotrophic Bacteria Grown Using Methane Gas

Harshit gave a presention titled Growing Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells on Recombinant Spider Silk Membranes

James, Gregory, and Adam displayed their research poster titled: Determinint the Morphology-Property Relatioship of ZnO Nanoparticles

Cindy showcased her work titled Proposed DEP-Raman device for simultaneous trapping and identification of bacteria

Charles gave a presention called Comparison of Alginate Encapsulation and Microcarriers for In Vitro Modeling of Microgravity-Induced Muscular Atrophy

Anna presented her findings on

Dr. Zhou gave an oral presentation

Andrew preseneted on Characterization of Purple Non-Sulfur Bacteria for Application in Wastewater Treatment

Michelle presenting on Characterization of biofilms in a synthetic rhizosphere

Dr. Taylor displaied his students capstone project poster EDEN

Kara presented on Mechanical Stress Induces the Expression of Angiogenic Factors in Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells

Taylor displayed a poster titled Synthesizing Microcarriers as a Platform for the Pharmaceutical Delivery of Quercetin for Antiviral Application