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May 20, 2014 - Biomedical Engineering, Lung Biology Graduate Students Win Awards for Presentations

Bio Eng winners 01 (2)-web.jpgSeveral students in the biomedical engineering and lung biology graduate programs at the University of South Alabama attended and participated in the 30th Annual Southern Biomedical Engineering Conference, which was held in Gulfport, Miss., from April 10-13.

According to Dr. Thomas Rich, associate professor of pharmacology and lung biology and director of the basic medical sciences graduate program at the USA College of Medicine, there were 75 presentations at the conference. Of the 11 presentations made by USA students, Peter Favreau won first place, and April Scruggs won the second place oral presentation award.

“Favreau was the first student in USA’s biomedical engineering track of the basic medical sciences doctoral program,” said Dr. Rich. His project seeks to develop and implement a novel hyperspectral imaging system for detection of cancer. Hyperspectral imaging technologies were first developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Department of Defense for remote sensing/satellite imaging.

“Any opportunity to communicate my research and gather insight from other scientists is of the utmost importance for my scientific career, Favreau said. “Conferences like this offer an environment to interact with other scientists and determine research progress outside my own project.”

“Peter has been instrumental in the development and implementation of a novel hyperspectral imaging approach -- excitation scan-based hyperspectral imaging -- that provides significantly higher signal-to-noise ratios than traditional imaging approaches,” said Dr. Rich. “He has also demonstrated that this approach is suitable for real-time imaging and is currently examining the practicality of excitation scan-based hyperspectral imaging for the early detection of lung cancer.”

Scruggs, who won second place, is a second-year student who is also in both the biomedical engineering and lung biology tracks. Her project studies a novel signaling system involving microparticles -- which are sub-micron vesicles that are shed from a variety of cell types including the cells that line blood vessels, called endothelial cells.

It is hopeful that combining state-of-the-art imaging approaches and mathematical modeling will allow us to discover the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which microparticles alter systemic responses to disease. “This conference was a great opportunity to share what I'm doing with my research and to get feedback on my presentation skills,” she said.

“I think that I speak for mentors as well as myself in saying that we are pleased when students take advantage of the opportunities presented to them,” said Dr. Rich. “Students who take advantage of these opportunities are well-positioned to develop successful careers, and that is our goal for all students in the basic medical sciences program.”

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