VISE 2017 Summer Undergraduate Program concludes with student-led seminar
Eight students worked side-by-side graduate students and faculty on active research projects as part of the Vanderbilt Institute for Surgery and Engineering’s 2017 Summer Undergraduate program.
Students in biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science spent ten weeks in VISE labs under the supervision of a VISE affiliate faculty member. The paid program gives undergraduates first-hand experience in laboratory research.
Research areas included imaging and image segmentation, optical technologies, surgical guidance systems, and image guided breast surgery.
Sarah Goodale, a 2017 graduate in biomedical engineering, worked in BME Professor Michael Miga’s Biomedical Modeling Laboratory on a new imaging system for use in breast-preserving cancer surgeries.
“It was a very eye-opening and fun experience that solidified my interest in pursuing academic research,” she said.
Students praised the program as challenging and educational. They also appreciated the opportunities to build networking and communication skills.
“I was able to make meaningful connections with several of the graduate students in the Medical Engineering and Discovery Lab (MEDLab),” said Cindy Lin Lu, a mechanical engineering major.
She also said the boost in her technical and communication skills will help in her undergraduate career.
Thomas Massion, computer science major said he learned a lot about coding while working on a database he designed in the Medical Image Processing lab.
“The people I worked with were consistently communicative and supportive, and the work of the lab held an importance and tangible benefit to patients at Vanderbilt’s Medical Center which I found to be rewarding,” he said.
Oscar Benavides, biomedical engineering major, agreed and said the experience was challenging but enjoyable. He and fellow undergrad, Kelsey Leeburg, biomedical and electrical engineering double major, worked in the Diagnostic Imaging and Image-Guided Interventions (DIIGI) Laboratory.
Leeburg designed and assembled a handheld spectrally encoded coherence tomography and reflectometry (SECTR), “I am still amazed at how much I learned this summer, given that I knew very little about optics at the beginning,” she said. “I can now build a spectrometer and OCT system as well as explain how they work.”
Rebecca Jones, biomedical engineering major, created tissue-mimicking phantoms with embedded kidney stones to use in ultrasound imaging.
“This experience allowed me to fully understand and appreciate the importance of research, particularly how medicine and engineering can seamlessly work together to improve both fields,” Jones said.
Margaret Bobo, electrical engineering major, worked in the Medical-image Analysis and Statistical Interpretation (MASI) Lab and gained experience as well as new skills.
“I am very thankful to have been involved in the “cutting edge” of image segmentation, and I am proud of the results,” she said.
Derek Doss, biomedical engineering major, worked on developing methods to guide tumor biopsies with interventional radiologist and VISE physician in residence, Dr. Filip Banovac.
“VISE is incredibly unique. I’ve not been able to find another program like it,” Doss said. “Many undergraduates who get research experience don’t get to see the big picture of their research. With VISE, I can see the real-world application of my research and it is possible to start improving outcomes.”
The program concluded with a student-led VISE seminar in which each undergraduate gave a five minute presentation and answered audience questions.