Winners of the Student Awards at BioEM2018

Authored by: Azadeh Peyman

Published on: Jul 25, 2018

The BioEM2018 students’ awards for best platform and poster presentations were given to the following students:

Platform Presentation Awards

1st place and the winner of Joseph James Morrissey Memorial Award*: Federica Castellani
2nd place (Joint): Adam Verrender and Aryana Amoon
3rd place: Reza Aminzadeh
*The Joseph Morrissey Memorial Award, is sponsored and awarded by the MMF, represented by Antonio Faraone.

Photo of platform winners


Poster awards

1st place: Gerwin Dijk
2nd place: Nicolas Bouisset
3rd place: Ishan Goswami

Photo of poster winners

The BEMS and EBEA award committees, would like to extend their appreciation to all the judges and reviewers and many congratulations to all student winners and the Arthur Pilla awardee. As it is customary this year’s winners have also provided a brief note about their research work and experience at the BioEM2018 meeting.


Award winners report about their research and experience at BioEM2018

Federica Castellani

1st Place Platform Award & Winner of Joseph James Morrissey Memorial Award

Ion models and ion transport in molecular simulations of electrically stressed biological membranes
Federica Castellani1,2, Esin B. Sözer1,  P. Thomas Vernier11
Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA  23508, USA
2 Biomedical Engineering Institute, Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA  23529, USA


Federica Castellani receiving awardI am a Ph.D. student in Biomedical Engineering at the Batten College of Engineering and Technology at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, carrying out my doctoral research in Tom Vernier’s laboratory at the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics. I am originally from Italy, where I earned a bachelor of science degree in Chemical Engineering and a master’s degree in Nanotechnology Engineering at La Sapienza University of Rome.

My research is focused on molecular dynamics MD) simulations of ion transport through electrically stressed phospholipid membranes. MD is a “microscope” that enables the study of the nanoscale evolution of physical and chemical systems, including complex processes that take place in biomolecular systems that are not observable with conventional experimental methods.

My presentation at the BioEM 2018 meeting emphasized one aspect of molecular simulations that we sometimes forget: the mathematical models that we use are not always as  perfect as we would like them to be. We always have to compare MD results with experimentally generated data in order to have models that can not only simulate but also predict experimental results. In particular, the calcium ion distributed with the widely used CHARMM36 force field overestimates the interaction between Ca2+ and water, and underestimates the interaction between Ca2+ and Cl-. Following a recently published method, we were able to improve the Ca2+ model and test it in a lipid-aqueous environment. Our results show more realistic ion-water and ion-ion interactions, and we learned from these optimized systems that Ca2+ binding to and equilibration with phospholipid bilayers is much slower than previously determined. For the first time a Ca2+-lipid bilayer system was equilibrated for 10 µs.

I want to sincerely thank all the BioEM 2018 organizers and all the people that made such a great conference possible. It was a great opportunity for me to meet and speak with people in my field, and also to have a look at other fields that I am not very familiar with. The beautiful location of Portorož made the conference even more interested and relaxing. A swim in the sea after a long conference day is the perfect way to let hours and hours of science “soak in”! It was an honor for me to receive the 1st Place Platform Award and the Joseph James Morrissey Memorial Award. I want to also particularly thank the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF) for the Joseph James Morrissey Memorial Award.


Aryana Amoon

Joint 2nd Place Platform Award

Proximity to overhead power lines and childhood leukemia: An international pooled analysis
Aryana Amoon1 et al.
1Epidemiology, Los Angeles, CA, USA


Aryana Amoon at BioEM2018I am a PhD student in the department of epidemiology at University of California Los Angeles’ Fielding School of Public Health. My research focuses on overhead power lines and childhood leukemia, particularly looking at methodological issues and epidemiologic concerns that have arisen or not been addressed in previous studies.

BioEM 2018 was my first ever conference, both as an attendee and as a presenter and thus the first opportunity I had to present my work. I could not have asked for a better experience. Not only were we at such a beautiful location, the quality of the conference itself was beyond compare, both in terms of content programming as well as the ‘extracurricular’ activities including food, drinks, and the outings. I had the opportunity to meet many like-minded students and researchers who were interested in my work and engaged me in detailed discussions about it.

I am honored to have placed 2nd in the platform presentations at such an event. I am sincerely grateful to the BioEM2018 committee for putting it all together and sponsoring my registration, as well as to my adviser, Dr. Leeka Kheifets, for encouraging me to attend and present. I am looking forward to attending next year already.

Aryana Amoon at BioEM2018


Adam Verrender

Joint 2nd Place Platform Award

Investigating the determinants of IEI-EMF: Is the nocebo effect a normal response 
Adam Verrender1,2, Sarah Loughran1,2,3, Anna Dalecki1,2,3, Frederik Freudenstein1,2,3 & Rodney Croft1,2,3
1Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia
2School of Psychology, Illawarra Health & Medical Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia
3Population Health Research on Electromagnetic Energy, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia


Adam Verrender at BioEM2018I’m a PhD student at the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research based at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, University of Wollongong. My research is focused on investigating the possible determinants of Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance attributed to Electromagnetic Fields (IEI-EMF), more commonly known as Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity.

At BioEM2018 I presented a platform presentation outlining the results of study which investigated whether perceived EMF exposure could elicit symptoms in a healthy population, and additionally, whether messages emphasizing ‘adverse health effects of EMF exposure’ can exacerbate a nocebo response. Although there has been consistent evidence that the symptoms experienced by IEI-EMF sufferers are more closely related to a nocebo response, whether this response is specific only to IEI-EMF sufferers, and the factors which contribute to this response, remains unclear. My presentation focused on describing a study which aimed to address this uncertainty and determine whether any observed increases in symptoms were the result of a nocebo effect, and whether alarmist media reports contribute to this response.

The BioEM2018 conference provided me with an excellent opportunity to discuss my research with some of the world’s leading bioelectromagnetics researchers and students. As always, the conference program included a broad range of interesting platforms, plenaries and poster presentations and I enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with old and new colleagues at the social events. Being in the coastal town of Portorož during the European summer (while the World Cup was on) was an added bonus, and with the beautiful town of Piran only a short distance away, this provided the perfect location for a successful conference. I feel very honoured to have received 2nd place in the platform presentations, and would like to especially thank my supervisors Prof. Rodney Croft and Dr. Sarah Loughran for providing me with such incredible opportunities and mentorship throughout my PhD. I’d also like to thank the BioEM2018 committees for organising such a great conference and for the student travel support which sponsored my attendance.


Reza Aminzadeh

3rd Place Platform Award

Human exposure assessment in indoor environments using a 60 GHz personal exposure meter 
Reza Aminzadeh1, Abdou Khadir Fall2, Jerome Sol2, Arno Thielens1,3, Philippe Besnier2, Maxim Zhadobov4, Nele De Geeter5, Prakash Parappurath Vasudevan1,6, Luc Dupré5, Roel Van Holen6, Luc Martens1 & Wout Joseph1
1Dept. of Information Technology (INTEC), Ghent University/imec, Ghent, Belgium
2Institute of Electronics and Telecommunications of Rennes, INSA of Rennes, Rennes, France
3Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley, USA
4Institute of Electronics and Telecommunications of Rennes, University of Rennes 1, Rennes, France
5Dept. of Electrical Energy, Systems and Automation (EESA), Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
6Dept. of Electronics and Information Systems (Elis), Ghent University/imec, Ghent, Belgium


Reza Aminzadeh at BioEM2018My presentation at BioEM2018 was on design and calibration of a mm-wave personal distributed exposure meter.

I graduated from Sharif University of Technology in 2014. During my master studies I became interested in ioelectromagnetics. During my master thesis I investigated research on assessment of millimeter-wave reflectometry for detection of skin cancers. Following my strong desire to work in the area of bioelectromagnetics I joined WAVES research group at Ghent University as a PhD student in January 2015. My current research is on developing wireless body area networks for characterization of human exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. My research is mainly focused on design and on-body calibration of wearable personal exposure meters operating in the range of few hundred MHz to below 6 GHz and mm-waves covering 60 GHz to assess human exposure to the upcoming 5G wireless technology. I am also working on development of novel tissue-equivalent phantoms at microwave frequencies.

My research interests include numerical and experimental dosimetry, measurement and theoretical modelling of dielectric properties of biological tissues, development of tissue-equivalent phantoms for mm-wave band and on/in body radio wave propagation.

This year it was the second time that I participated in BioEM conference. The sessions were conveniently organized and I had the opportunity to present my research and to have enlightening conversations with other researchers working in the same area. The conference location was great and I really had great time traveling to Slovenia. Finally, I would like to thank my promoters Prof. Luc Martens and Prof. Wout Joseph for their continual support throughout my PhD and for giving me the opportunity to present my work.


Gerwin Dijk

1st Place Poster Award

Flexible conductive polymer microelectrode arrays for electropulsation, neurostimulation and electroporation in vitro and in vivo
Gerwin Dijk1,2, Hermanus Ruigrok1 & Rodney P. O'Connor1
1Department of Bioelectronics, École des Mines de Saint-Étienne, Gardanne, France
2Panaxium, Aix-en-Provence, France


BioEM 2018 in Portoroz was truly a memorable experience. It gave me the opportunity to get to know the people of the community and to learn about the great amount of research that is ongoing in this field.

It was an honour and pleasure to participate in the poster award and winning the first price was a great confirmation that the message was well received. My project is about biomedical devices based on organic materials to stimulate tissue and/or cells. Many BioEM participants study the biological effects of stimulation and some of them work on the development of medical devices. However, few had ever heard of conductive polymers to improve the tissue-electronics interface. I am happy to have shown some of our results and to have seen that it was of interest to many participants.

My contribution to the conference would have not been possible without my supervisor Rodney O’Connor, my co-worker Ian Ruigrok and the company Panaxium that supports my project. Also, many thanks to the organisation for this excellent event and to all the participants for fruitful discussions and a lot fun!


“Only one thing is more important than a beautiful destination, the meeting”


Nicolas Bouisset

2nd Place Poster Award

Does Extremely Low Frequency Magnetic Fields stimulations of the vestibular system modulate postural control in humans?
Nicolas Bouisset1,2, Sebastien Villard1,3, Daniel Goulet7, Michel Plante7, Martine Souques6, François Deschamps5, Genevieve Ostiguy7, Jacques Lambrozo6 & Alexandre Legros1,2,3,4,8
1Human Threshold Research Group, Lawson Health Research Institute, London, ON, Canada
2Department of Kinesiology, Western University, London, ON, Canada
3Department of Medical Biophysics, Western University, London, ON, Canada
4Department of Medical Imaging, Western University, London, ON, Canada
5RTE, Département Concertation et Environnement, Paris-La Défense, France
6Service des Études médicales , EDF, Levallois-Perret Cedex, France
7Hydro-Québec,, Montréal, Québec, Canada
8EuroMov, Université de Montpellier, Montpellier, France


I first would like to thank the BioEM2018 organizing committee for the wonderful conference they have put together and for providing me with the student travel support which sponsored my attendance.

The BioEM 2018 conference in Portoroz, Slovenia was an extraordinary experience for me. I was more than thankful to have the opportunity to share the work I am doing during my PhD. Currently my research focuses on the acute effects of extremely low frequency magnetic fields on the vestibular system. I find this topic to be genuinely fascinating.

The three minutes platform presentation was a challenging exercise as one need to summarize concisely and accurately one’s work to deliver the core message in a short amount of time. The following poster session was very enriching time has it enabled personalized interactions with experienced scientists providing great feedback. The exchange of ideas was very uplifting as well as a very pleasant learning experience.

I was very surprised and very honoured to receive the 2nd place prize for my poster.

I would like to thank my supervisor, Doctor Alexandre Legros for giving me the opportunity to attend the conference and for the great suggestions relative to my presentation. I would also like to thank Doctor Julien Modolo for his feedback and advice. Finally special credit needs to be given to Doctor Sebastien Villard for all the work and help he provided on this project.

Nicolas Bouisset at BioEM2018


Ishan Goswami

 3rd Place Poster Award

 Steepest-entropy-ascent quantum thermodynamic approach to scaling the electric field parameters and criticality related to cell signalling in electrically perturbed cells: Experimental evidence and rationale
Ishan Goswami1, Scott S. Verbridge2, Michael R. von Spakovsky1
1Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
2Dept. of Biomedical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Ishan Goswami at BioEM2018I am a Ph.D. candidate in the department of mechanical engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. My research interest is combining mathematical modeling and biological experiments to derive useful insights that can be used to design medical devices. My Ph.D. research is based on investigating the effect of pulsed electric fields (PEFs) on cell signaling, specifically those that may be involved in altering immune response post-treatment. In this regard, my research observes that PEFs decrease pro-tumor inflammatory signaling in cells that survive treatment. However, the mechanism of action of PEFs is still under debate. Knowledge of how PEFs may affect cells is essential for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for broader clinical applications. This is a challenge since the PEF pulse parameter (for example the combination of different pulse amplitudes, pulse widths, etc.) is very large, and running computational or experimental studies on each combination is not feasible. Therefore, I propose a physical model that may be used to scale the PEF parameter space, such that the understanding developed in one regime of the space can be extended to another.

This aforementioned theme of using scaling laws for the PEF parameter space was part of my presentation at the BioEM 2018 conference. It was my first attendance at a BioEM conference. It was an intellectually stimulating experience whereby I met many of the prominent scientist in the field of bio-electromagnetics and got to know about their current research via their presentations. The conference provided a platform for me to get valuable feedbacks from multiple researchers.  The talks and poster-sessions were very well planned, and there were social events that allowed me to engage in very interesting conversations with many of the researchers. Regarding the site of the meeting, Piran and Slovenia is a beautiful place. I had the pleasure of interacting with few locals as well as the students from the University of Ljubljana who were volunteering at the event. I would like to thank the volunteers and the organizers for organizing such a successful event. Last but not least, I would like to express my gratitude to the BioEM committee for providing me with a student travel support that allowed me to participate in the conference.