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Biomedical Engineering, Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Program Requirements

In addition to coursework, doctoral students are required to complete three other core requirements. These requirements are designed to ensure that students gain breadth of exposure to the range of research and topics within biomedical engineering, develop and improve scientific communication skills and support students as they move through the research process.

Research rotation

Once you have selected a primary mentor, you are required to perform a research rotation, which is similar to an independent study, in a laboratory that complements your mentor's background. In other words, if the primary mentor's laboratory focuses on the life/medical sciences, a research rotation must be performed in engineering (and vice versa). This research rotation can be conducted in the laboratory of the secondary advisor. The purpose is to help expose students to the broad range of biomedical engineering activities.

Communications courses

Traditionally, doctoral training programs in scientific disciplines concentrate on mastery of the content of a discipline. While this is appropriate in many respects, it is also true that those trained in biomedical engineering often become leaders in industry and teachers in academic institutions. A well-rounded education gives students the skills required for professional-level teaching and scientific presentations. 

In these courses, students begin by presenting critical reviews of up-to-date scientific articles. These presentations are accompanied by open discussions involving faculty and other graduate students. Students progress to presenting seminars in their chosen field of interest. Finally, prior to graduation, students are required to present results of their original research to at least one national or international scientific meeting.

Grant-writing exercise

Each student must write a research grant application on their proposed dissertation research. This grant should be submitted to the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program prior to beginning your third semester of the Ph.D. schedule, or your fifth semester if you started at the master's level.  Under unusual circumstances, this timetable can be adjusted with the approval of the Director of the Graduate Program.

The form of the grant must be consistent with the format used by one of the major national funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health. Your advisory committee and any other interested faculty will formally examine the student on the grant. This will include an oral examination within one month of the grant's submission. If the grant proposal is not considered acceptable by the student's committee, a second grant proposal will be due four months from the date of the first examination. Submission of the grant exercise to the biomedical engineering program does not preclude its submission in whole or in part to any granting agency, for example, for the purposes of obtaining a pre-doctoral fellowship.

The grant-writing exercise introduces students to the style, complexities and nuances of the grant proposal process and forces them to think through various elements of the proposed dissertation. To successfully pass the exercise, students will need to be well-versed in the current literature in their field and be able to formulate and defend their research plans and methodology. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, an open discussion of research proposals among faculty with diverse backgrounds frequently leads to much stronger research proposals.

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University of Nevada, Reno

University of Nevada, Reno
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