Information for Undergraduate Students

Working in the Advanced Life Support/ECMO Laboratory:
Information for Students


The Advanced Life Support/ECMO laboratory is a collective of several faculty members.  The primary faculty members supporting the lab are Dr. Robert Bartlett, Dr. Alvaro Rojas, Dr. Ronald Hirschl, Dr. George Mychaliska, Dr. Jeffrey Punch, Dr. Mark Meyerhoff, and Dr. Jonathan Haft.  Dr. Bartlett is the senior investigator within the laboratory.  Dr. Rojas runs most day to day operations within the lab and manages the work of the undergraduates.  Dr. Rojas is assisted in managing undergraduate students by Marie Cornell.


The laboratory runs a wide variety of surgical and bioengineering research projects, including the development of artificial lungs, artificial kidneys, biomaterials, and techniques for expanding the pool of donated organs.  Artificial lungs are a particular focus, with work on several different generations of implantable artificial lungs, new gas exchange membranes, and new applications for these devices, such as an artificial placenta.  


Up to 40 undergraduate students work on these projects every year.  The number varies depending upon the time of year, and what projects are active.  The students work is in various capacities, but here are some of the more common:


1.  University Research Opportunity Program (UROP)

This University of Michigan program is intended to introduce young students to research, while rewarding them with class credit or salary. If you are in UROP, we interview for projects in September of every year.  Contact Dr. Rojas ( as soon as possible if you are interested in the lab.  There are 5 applicants for every position, and they are filled quickly.  If you are interested in UROP, their website is  Please contact them as early in your education as possible as they develop a waiting list.


2.  Surgery 499 – Surgical Research

Surgery 499 is hands-on course that allows students to participate in a wide variety of surgical research projects.  The course teaches basic concepts in surgery, anesthesiology, critical care, and animal physiology in addition to specific research topics.  These topics vary semester to semester but typically focus on artificial organs (lung, kidney, etc.), advanced life support techniques, organ transplantation, biocompatibility testing of devices, and a wide variety of projects from industrial partners.  Students learn in a hands-on environment with supplementary reading.  The course requires four hours of class time per credit hour in the fall and winter and eight hours per credit hour in the spring and summer.  The course can be taken for any number of credits, but we recommend taking it for 2-3 credits.  Grading is based on attendance (25%), effort (25%), comprehension (25%), and a take home final (25%).  If you are interested, contact Dr. Alvaro Rojas (  An initial interview is necessary to obtain an override.


3.  Volunteer

There are usually opportunities for students to volunteer in the lab.  Many of these volunteer positions involve evening and weekend work.  If you are interested, send your contact information to


4.  Paid, hourly temporary employee

Typically, students are only given paying positions in the lab after achieving considerable experience in the lab via any of the above mechanisms.  The one possible exception may be if the student has work-study.  Please contact Marie Cornell ( if you feel you qualify for paid employment.