This year, BME students at the University of Utah received three prestigious graduate fellowships and one honorable mention from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP).

The NSF GRFP is a competitive fellowship available to first- and second-year graduate students. Fellows receive a stipend of $34,000 per year for 3 years, allowing these fellows additional financial support for research and more research independence.

This year’s awardees and honorable mentions are:

  • Isabella Archibald – Awardee
  • Brian Cottle – Awardee
  • Carena Cornelssen – Awardee
  • Lars Lofgren – Honorable Mention

Notably, the GFRP awards this year are even more impressive, as NSF reduced the total number of anticipated GFRP awards, and added special priority emphasis to “Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Information Science, and Computationally Intensive Research” areas.

Read more about this year’s Utah BME GFRP awardees below!

Brian Cottle

“Our research is focused on improving open heart surgery outcomes for pre-term infants. This involves creating data-rich 3D reconstructions of important conductive tissues from hearts with congenital defects. We are making these models to better understand how to avoid damaging these important tissues during surgery. Additionally, we are working on developing a device that uses light shined on the surface of tissue to identify the composition of the tissue beneath it, hopefully further enabling surgeons to identify these conductive tissues so that they can protect them during open heart surgery.”


Carena Cornelssen

“My research uses a promising noninvasive surgical method, MR-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS). MRgFUS includes recent advances in MR-guided imaging and neurosurgical techniques to provide precise targeting and real-time monitoring during neurosurgery. We will develop an MRgFUS approach to disrupt neural circuits underlying seizures and anxiety-like behavior in a rodent model of temporal lobe epilepsy.”


Lars Lofgren

“Acute kidney injury (AKI) affects a large number of cardiac surgery patients. Those who develop AKI have longer hospital stays and higher mortality. The current diagnostic methods become diagnostic after the initial injury has occurred. The goal of our research is to develop a noninvasive device and accompanying algorithm which will monitor the oxygen partial pressure in urine to monitor AKI risk in real time. Initial results have confirmed others research showing that patients who develop AKI have a lower intraoperative urine oxygen partial pressure compared to those who do not develop AKI. A real-time indicator of AKI risk will help future researchers understand and develop prevention strategies to limit the number of patients who develop AKI.”