CEMB offered a unique virtual program for Boot Camp 2020 in response to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Our team gathered expertise from the Center’s partner institutions to create an intensive series that provided fundamental knowledge in the cross-disciplinary field of mechanobiology and honed participants’ key scientific and analytical skills important to all related fields.

The course comprised two parts. During the first week, morning lectures built knowledge of cross-disciplinary topics in the mechanobiology of animal and plant cells. Afternoon sessions consisted of labs designed to build modeling, analysis, imaging, and bioinformatics skills. During the second week, interdisciplinary teams conducted a research project that culminated in a group presentation. Additional professional development sessions were given in week two to enrich participants’ graduate school experience and help prepare them for future career pathways.

Funded by the The Center for Engineering MechanoBiology (CEMB).

Boot Camp Agenda

Monday, July 6, 2020 – Friday, July 17, 2020

WeekDayMorning Afternoon
1Wed., 7/8/20204:00 – 5:00 pm Orientation (Ram Dixit)

Mon., 7/6/2020

Boot Camp Lectures:
Start time: 11:00a EST/10:00a CST/8:00a PST

11:15a EST: Basic Biochemistry and Mechanics (Paul Janmey, Penn) Video

12:15 p EST: Measuring Forces (Anders Carlsson, WU) Video
3:00 – 5:00p /EST: Mat Lab I
(Kalpana Mandal, Penn)

1Tues., 7/7/2020

11:00a EST: MS Channels (Haswell Lab, WU) Video
12:00 p EST: Animal Cell Adhesion (Amit Pathak, WU) Video
3:00 – 5:00p /EST: Mat Lab II
(Louis Woodhams, WU)


Wed., 7/8/2020

11:00a EST: Intro to Plant and Animal Cytoskeleton (Ram Dixit, WU) Video
12:00 p EST: Intro to Nuclear Mechanobiology (Ben Prosser, Penn) Video
3:00 – 5:00p /EST: Image J
(Claudia Loebel, Penn)


Thurs., 7/9/2020
11:00a EST: The Plant Cell Wall (Charlie Anderson, Penn State, and Siobhan Braybrook, UCLA) Video3:00 – 5:00p /EST: Python (Ryan Emenecker, WU)

Fri., 7/10/2020
12:00 p EST: Animal ECM (Guy Genin, WU) Video
11:00a EST: Artificial Matrices (Nate Huebsch, WU) Video
3:00 – 5:00p /EST: Bioinformatics (Manasvita Vashisth, Penn)


Mon., 7/13/2020

Group Research Projects
Work Day

2:00 – 3:30 EST
Career Development Workshop I
(Michelle DeLair, WU Career Center)


Tues., 7/14/2020

Work Day

1:30 – 3:00 EST
Scientific Presentation Skills (Joel Boerckel, PI at Penn; Natasha Bilkey and Morgan Li, CEMB Trainee Leadership Cl)

Wed., 7/15/2020
Work Day

2:00 – 3:30 EST
Career Development Workshop II
(Michelle DeLair, WU Career Center)

Thurs, 7/16/2020

Work Day

11:00a – 12:30p EST/10 CST/8 PST
Diversity and Inclusion in STEM
Workshop: The Myth of Meritocracy
(Miriam Goodman, Stanford Univ.)
Fri., 7/17/2020
Group Presentations
Each group: 20 min pres + 10 min Q&A
4:00 – 6:00 p EST
Research Group Presentations

Professional Development Workshop Descriptions

Mon. July 13thCareer Exploration Series Part 1: Assess your Skills, Interests, and Values
(Presenter: Michelle DeLair, WU Career Center)

The first step of career exploration is identifying the types of tasks you are good at and enjoy doing, and the types of work environments in which you thrive. This session will introduce you to the process of reflecting on, identifying, and prioritizing your skills, interests and values as it relates to finding a career that fits you.

  • Define your skills and interests and how to use skills and interests, specifically, to explore career paths using LinkedIn
  • Identify your values and reflect on the importance of values in job satisfaction
  • Set career development goals and outline and prioritize your career exploration plans

Session 1 Pre‐work: Complete skills, interests, and values assessments online with myIDP at

Tues. July 14th: Scientific Presentation Skills
(Presenter: Joel Boerckel, University of Pennsylvania; Moderators: Natasha Bilkey, WU,and Morgan Li, WU ‐ CEMB Trainee Leadership Council Representatives)

Hosted by the Trainee Leadership Council of the Center for Engineering Mechanobiology, this workshop is presented by Joel Boerckel, a Primary Investigator in the CEMB and dynamic presenter. Content includes some lecture and some content workshopping activities.

Wed. July 15th: Career Exploration Series Part II: LinkedIn, Informational Interviewing, and Networking
(Presenter: Michelle DeLair)

Employers value candidates who are well versed in their organization’s culture and industry. Learn to conduct career research to gain insight, identify key organizations and discover industry‐specific practices and vocabulary. The next step is networking. Talking with people to learn about their challenges, rewards, ideas and advice is one of the most valuable ways to understand organizations and industries. Session 2 Topics:

  • Create or update your LinkedIn Profile and use LinkedIn for career research
  • Learn to use informational interviewing to learn about career areas and build your network
  • Conduct research to create a target list
  • Practice correspondence and come up with a plan to connect

Session 2 Pre‐work: Create a LinkedIn account

Thurs. July 16th: The Myth of Meritocracy
(Presenter: Miriam Goodman, Stanford Univ.)

This presentation will be a lecture/discussion format using polling to get attendees thinking about unconscious/implicit bias and confirmation bias and how this affects the STEMM disciplines.

About Miriam: I am not a social scientist or expert in the study of diversity and inclusion in STEMM. My teaching and speaking in diversity and inclusion is my ‘side gig’. I am trained as a neuroscientist and biophysicist and work in sensory biology. My research focuses on the genetics and physics of touch sensation and mechanical neuroprotection in animals. We use C. elegans as our main model organism.

Pre‐work: Complete survey to be shared in advance of class.

Boot Camp TAs and Attendees

Natasha BilkeyTeaching AssistantWashington University in St. Louis
Ryan EmeneckerTeaching Assistant Washington University in St. Louis
Sharereh HashemiTeaching Assistant Washington University in St. Louis
Shumeng JiangTeaching Assistant Washington University in St. Louis
Aayush KantTeaching AssistantUniversity of Pennsylvania
Claudia LoebelTeaching Assistant University of Pennsylvania
Kalpana MandalTeaching AssistantUniversity of Pennsylvania
Eoin McEvoyTeaching Assistant University of Pennsylvania
Kari MillerTeaching Assistant Washington University in St. Louis
Manasvita VashisthTeaching Assistant University of Pennsylvania
Louis Woodhams LecturerWashington University in St. Louis
Faviolla Baez-CruzAttendeeUniversity of Pennsylvania
Gabriel I. Vega BellidoAttendee University of Pennsylvania
Christoffer CaroAttendee UCLA
Christie CrandallAttendeeWashington University in St. Louis
Kirstene GultianAttendee Rowan University
Ethan HoppeAttendee Washington University in St. Louis
Stephanie HuangAttendee UNC at Chapel Hill
Huiyong (Morgan) LiAttendeeWashington University in St. Louis
Xiangjun PengAttendee Washington University in St. Louis
Joshua TothAttendee University of Pennsylvania