Graduate education

CEMB seeks graduate students from across the scientific and engineering disciplines, and from all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.  Special opportunities are available at all sites for students from backgrounds that have typically been under-represented in the sciences, including the specialized mentoring that CEMB provides to ensure the success of all its trainees.

CEMB trains across disciplines. Incoming engineers and physicists expand their knowledge base in organismal, cellular, and molecular biology and develop a practical understanding of the nature of biological research.  Similarly, incoming biologists grow in their understanding of mechanics and quantitative methods.  Together, these trainees communicate and collaborate in innovative and meaningful ways in the center’s integrative research projects.

How to apply

CEMB graduate fellows are admitted through standard graduate group/graduate program channels. Prospective fellows should contact individual CEMB faculty members and the associate individual graduate programs as they prepare their applications. CEMB-associated graduate programs and associated CEMB faculty fellows are the following:

Alabama State

Bryn Mawr College

  • Physics
    CEMB faculty fellows: Cheng

Boston University

New Jersey Institute of Technology

University of Pennsylvania

University of Texas, Austin

Washington University in St. Louis

Organization and curriculum

Students generally become CEMB graduate fellows after their first year in a PhD program, although they may become affiliated with CEMB as soon as they commit to a CEMB lab. Graduate fellows must meet the standard curricula of their graduate programs, with the following addenda:

      • CEMB graduate fellows have two advisors. Although they are typically affiliated with one primary research group, a second advisor from a different discipline works closely with the CEMB graduate fellow to provide broad expertise in integrated mechanobiology; to assist with developing a broad, individualized program of study; and to provide cross-disciplinary career mentoring.
      • CEMB graduate fellows have access to many of the course offerings at other CEMB sites, and receive home institution credit for these courses.
      • CEMB graduate fellows participate in CEMB’s intensive “Boot Camp I” experience in the summer of their entry into the program, generally between years 1 and 2 of graduate school. Boot Camp I, usually held at Penn for all participants, includes lectures in cell biology, bioengineering, matrix biology, and plant biology and mechanics; wet and dry lab experiences in rheometry, basic cell and molecular biology techniques, basics plant biology techniques, and computational modeling; small group tutorials; journal clubs; and ethics and knowledge transfer training. Boot Camp I includes a mini-research experience and presentation at the conclusion of the course.
      • CEMB graduate fellows take the CEMB core course, “Principles of Mechanobiology” in the fall of the second or third year of graduate school. This course covers key fundamentals of engineering and plant and animal biology and mechanobiology, and is taught by CEMB faculty fellows across the center, with remote access provided for all students.
      • CEMB graduate fellows receive training in translation, innovation, and commercialization through links with centers including the Penn Center for Innovation and the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurship at Washington University, and though CEMB’s Innovation Slams.
      • Advanced CEMB graduate fellows learn new techniques and approaches by participating in Boot Camp II experiences and in mini-sabbaticals in other center labs (generally away from the student’s home institution).
      • Advanced CEMB graduate fellows also have the option of industry internships, where they spend several months working with industry partners.

For more information, please contact the CEMB education director at your institution: