STEP Reflection

WHAT:

My STEP experience involved the exploration of the medical field area, in particular the field of medical imaging. My experience formally involves my work with Gregg Chapman and Dr. Robert Lee. The work involves the development of PET (Positron Emission Tomography) imaging probes for both laparoscopic and robotic surgery techniques when working with 511 KeV gamma emissions. These types of probes have yet to be developed because of limitations with required size, sensitivity, weight, and overall general capabilities.

Current PET probes are less than 2% efficient at 511 KeV and tungsten shielding is required to surround the probe limiting its field of view. Also, the current probes can weigh over one pound and are 1.25” in diameter. The work of this laboratory is to create a probe that addresses these issues.

My work specifically involves addressing the issue of the sensitivity of the probe which correlates with the overall efficiency. The medical probe that our team is developing must differentiate between the cancerous tumor cells and background radiation at a ratio of less than 1.5-to-1. To accomplish this goal the design utilizes multiple CZT (Cadmium Zing Telluride) crystals. The crystals that our team utilizes must be oriented in a certain fashion in order to attain and maximize the optimal difference in signal strength between the background and tumor radiation sources. Below is a visual image of the MCNP analysis.

MCNP Visual Crystal Placement

In order to determine the proper orientation it was my responsibility to work with the Monte Carlo N-Particle Transport Code (MCNP). Monte Carlo analysis is a computerized mathematical modeling technique that allows for the quantitative results that aid in decision making. This particular analysis looks specifically at various nuclear process including various particle interactions.

I have run various MCNP simulations to aid in determining the proper orientation for the crystals. The types of simulations involved moving the crystals to different locations in order to determine the amount of radiation counts. In addition, I worked and collaborated with doctors and researchers from the James Cancer Hospital as well as members from the Electro Science Laboratory in order to share our work, receive feedback, and hear about other research projects.

This past summer I also worked at General Electric Healthcare in Cleveland, Ohio on Magnetic Resonance (MR) coils. My STEP experience is about my research in the PET imaging laboratory, but with my desired career choice being in the medical imaging field I felt it was important to also share my employment at GE this summer because it pertained. This summer I worked at GE on various coil designs, but due to confidentiality agreements I can’t disclose exactly what I worked on. Although, my personal learnings from the experience contribute to what I learned involving the PET imaging project as described below.

My experiences with the research lab started back in January and my internship started in May. I plan to present my research work at the Summer Undergraduate Research Forum as well as at the STEP Expo.

So What?

I learned a lot about myself from my work in the research lab as well as from my internship with GE Healthcare. Both contributed to my passion for the healthcare field. I constantly find that I have a soft spot in my heart for all issues related to healthcare. I constantly find myself interested in finding ways to help others who are put in positions where they have to battle diseases and illness. I think when my work involves these projects I find myself even more motivated to contribute and innovate.

Something I have learned about conducting research is that there will never be one person to solve some of these huge issues like the cure for cancer. It will take supports, promoters, scientists, doctors, patients, fundraisers, researchers, and inspiration. The cure to cancer and many other diseases will come when we find new ways to collaborate in new and faster ways. This pertains to me because it means there is no job large or small that can go unaccomplished. We can’t find ourselves ignoring smaller projects that contribute to the larger projects. Even though my work involves just the crystal orientation for a larger medical probe it is still an important aspect that must be accomplished.

I believe in both experiences I enhanced my skills of conducting myself in a professional environment. I learned how to speak and explain my work as well as ask the right questions. Regardless of the field I find myself in the future I believe these skills will be instrumental in helping me become an effective communicator.

I also previously thought research and engineering work was purely technical. I have found that both of these fields require a significant amount of presentation and relationship building. Someone wise during this experience told me that that the key to success in life is simply “relationship building”.

Below are some colleagues that are now close friends from my internship with GE Healthcare.

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Fellow Interns at GE Healthcare

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now What?

I think from these experiences I was able to confirm my desire to do something in the medical field. This clarification of my passions allows me to help navigate my future career options. I believe after college I would like to study for my masters in engineering, business administration, or both. After talking to researchers and engineering professionals I believe that higher form of education is extremely important for the future. I hope to use these credentials to be a leader for the needed changes and improvements in the future.

I don’t know everything that I want to accomplish someday but as an electrical engineering major and entrepreneurship minor I hope to someday start my own purpose driven organization or company. I believe that my learnings from this experience will allow me to put this future goal as a more lucid dream.

I have two years left at the Ohio State University and after these experiences I am more motivated than ever to participate in the movements to change healthcare. I plan to continue my involvement with BuckeyeThon a fundraising effort to fight pediatric cancer at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I also intend to run my third half marathon in the fall to support the kids at Nationwide. I want to look back on my time at Ohio State and feel that I played a part, regardless of its size, in supporting the causes that fill my heart.

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