Biomedical engineering research-connected teaching success

Top row: Tamsin Doll, Joshua Moore, Samantha Stuart Bottom row: Xuhan Shu and Ahmad Shihab

A key focus of the School of Engineering at the University of Liverpool is to ensure undergraduate students reap the benefits of being surrounded by cutting-edge researchers.

As a result of this, a total of five undergraduate students and undergraduate placement students from the School have contributed to research papers recently published in academic journals.

The students were all under the supervision of Dr Ahmed Abass, lecturer in Biomedical Engineering, UG Mech Engineering Staff Student Liaison Committee (SSLC) Convenor.

He said: “My role is to educate my students on how to be independent learners, develop their research skills quickly and require less support gradually towards the end of their work. The success of these students in producing research papers is used to encourage new students to perform at a high standard and achieve an outstanding level of success.”

The five students were Tamsin Doll and Joshua Moore, who were both undergraduate students in the University’s School of Engineering and Samantha Stuart, Xuhan Shu, Ahmad Shihab, who were undergraduate placement students from the University of Toronto (Canada), the University of Guelph (Canada), and the University of Hertfordshire (UK).

Details of the research papers:

Miss Tamsin Doll said: “I really enjoyed studying for my MSc degree at the University of Liverpool and my 3rd year dissertation project with Dr Abass was a key part. During the project, it was fascinating to learn how computer codes can benefit people and industry. I used MATLAB software to collect simulation data to form the foundation of my dissertation and provide data for a published paper. It was a pleasure to work with Dr Abass and with his guidance I am proud to be published alongside him and other Liverpool graduates.”

Professor Rob Poole, Head of Department for Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Liverpool said “It’s a fantastic achievement for Tamsin to have published a paper in such a prestigious international journal like PLoS One. To have done so as an undergraduate – and to be recognised as first author – really is very rare and she should feel very proud.”

Mr Joshua Moore said: “As an undergraduate at the University of Liverpool, I was aware of the world-leading research being conducted in the School of Engineering. Taking part in an Employability Bursary Funded project allowed me the opportunity to work closely with some of the academics responsible for this research. As an undergraduate researcher under the mentorship of Dr Abass who awarded the fund, I was tasked with working on a finite element model of corneal implantation. As well as being a highly interesting application, this project also allowed me to directly improve my programming skills which have extremely beneficial in my current work. In addition to this, I also had the chance to work on two research papers which have now been published in the journals, PLoS One and MDPI. The skills I gained in the 3 months in the Biomechanical Engineering Group have been invaluable in almost every aspect of my subsequent research and it is something that I would recommend to any undergraduate student looking to improve their research skills.“

Miss Samantha Stuart said:  “My time in Liverpool allowed me a unique chance to both learn and execute an exciting engineering project alongside talented academics from across the world. It was a truly invaluable experience as an undergraduate researcher to join the project under the mentorship of Dr Abass and carry out advanced numerical simulations in ophthalmology towards the aim of publishing our work. It was very exciting to see the paper’s acceptance and ultimate publication in PLoS One  in 2019.

“Living in Liverpool and travelling on the weekends made the experience even more unforgettable for me – the accompanying photo was taken at the Blue Lagoon during a weekend trip to Iceland.  Back home, the experience hugely supported my applications for graduate studies, both in terms of my resumé and preparedness to undertake independent research. Now I am pursuing my master in biomedical engineering at the University of Toronto, and continue to be grateful for all I learned during my time with the Ocular Biomechanics group. I would recommend the University of Liverpool summer research experience to any student looking to broaden their horizons and build their academic skillset!”

Mr Xuhan Shu said:  “It was a great opportunity to spend a summer replacement in a research lead university like the University of Liverpool surrounded by world research-leading academics at the School of Engineering. For the first time, I learnt the critical nature of research, I practised enquiring the results I produced, and publish a scientific article in a high ranked journal with my supervisor Dr Abass”

 Mr Ahmad Shihab said: “As a mechanical engineering undergrad, I have always aimed towards using the knowledge I gained in the classroom and applying it to real-life applications and that’s what lead me to choose the University of Liverpool for my industrial placement as a research assistant.

I have worked with Dr Ahmed Abass for a year, researching the field of biomechanics. During my time here, I have gained a wealth of theoretical as well as practical knowledge owing to the world-class research facilities provided at the University. Dr Abass has helped me tremendously during my placement year in performing laboratory experiments and learning to use industrial software which is essential for any mechanical engineering student. I have gained valuable industrial experience at the University of Liverpool which would benefit me throughout my engineering career.

Apart from getting valuable real-life experience, I also became the first author of a research article written for a Q1 journal. I am proud to say that I will not only be graduating with a year’s worth of research experience but also as an author of a research paper, all thanks to the mentorship and guidance of Dr Abass. This placement also made me eligible to be certified as an EngTech (Engineering Technician) from IMechE since I gained the necessary experience and knowledge required to become a professional certified engineer.

I only spent a year being associated with the University of Liverpool, but this one year came with a lot of amazing people and fun experiences. I loved not just the university campus but also the city and its friendly people. I wish to come to the University of Liverpool for my postgrad studies and to further my career as a mechanical engineer.”

A list of Dr Abass’s publications can be found here: