Last week I began this four part series covering the scholars that have recently won awards from the Council of Graduate Schools and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses at various regional CGS conferences. You can take a look back and read the original intro, as well as the first post of the series, here.
Today I continue the series by introducing you to Dr. Orcun Goksel from The University of British Columbia. Orcun received the Innovation & Technology Award for his thesis entitled "Meshing and Rendering of Patient-Specific Deformation Models with Application to Needle Insertion Simulation." Essentially, Orcun's thesis proposed a way to map a 3D model image that helps surgeons simulate surgery. This is necessary because minimally invasive surgery is very detailed and requires a great deal of training. By using this 3D simulator surgeons can train extensively and practice for the real thing. As Orcun pointed out, think of a pilot using a flight simulator to train for flight. Furthermore, using the flight simulator analogy, when a pilot steers the flight simulator they get feedback and the simulator actually feels like its moving -- in the same sense, the model that Orcun's thesis describes would provide what he called "haptic" feedback. In other words, a surgeon practicing on this 3D model controls a robotic needle, and when that robotic needle pushes something or pierces something during the simulation, there is resistance as there would be in an actual surgery. Now if Orcun is reading this, I hope he can forgive me, because I probably got a few things incorrect -- "so why did you even try to summarize this?" one might ask. Well I did get the gist of it, and I don't have a technological background, so that goes to show you how well Orcun explained this to everyone. It can be difficult to communicate this type of detail to an audience not familiar with the field, but Orcun did a wonderful job and it was a pleasure to hear him speak about his work. For a more detailed (and surely more accurate) description of what his thesis covered you can view the abstract below, as it appeared in awards program. Congratulations Orcun!
I attend regional conferences hosted by the Council of Graduate Schools to market GradShare, network with deans and assistant deans from various universities, and learn how GradShare can better meet the needs of graduate students. At each conference ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, in conjunction with a regional CGS committee, presents awards to two students for their "distinguished master's theses." The winners are selected by a CGS committee comprised of graduate school deans representing a respective region. Each winner is honored during the conference, presented a check and a certificate, and given an opportunity to present their research to the meeting attendees. In this four part series I will be introducing you to four different students that won this award at the WAGS (Western Association of Graduate Schools) and MAGS (Mid-Western Association of Graduate Schools) conferences, and I'll share with you a summary of their award winning research. Each of these scholars is a testament to the value of postgraduate education; their dedication to research in various fields directly contributes to the progress of our society as a whole. It is a privilege to listen to these students discuss their research, and it's remarkable to sit with a crowd of graduate school deans that are both intrigued and impressed by what each student has accomplished. By further recognizing these four students on this blog I hope to motivate other graduate students and celebrate academia.
The main hope of a nation lies in the proper education of its youth. - Erasmus
The first person I will introduce you to is Weiyang Liu from the University of Alberta. Weiyang won a Distinguished Master's Thesis Award at the 2011 WAGS conference held in San Diego, and his award winning thesis delved into the "Instrumentation for Interstitial Photodynamic Therapy of Prostate Carcinoma." Huh? In case you missed the title of this blog post, look at it now and nod in agreement. In simpler terms, as Weiyang eloquently and clearly explained to everyone at the conference, he researched an alternative method of prostate cancer treatment that involves light therapy. This method isn't as invasive as other treatments, thus it takes less of a toll on the patient, allowing them to maintain a relatively normal quality of life. Chances are you know someone who has been, or will be, diagnosed with prostate cancer -- 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, and 1 in 36 men diagnosed will unfortunately die from prostate cancer (cancerfacts.com, http://tinyurl.com/3p7emkf). As Weiyang pointed out in his presentation, when prostate cancer is first detected there are instances when it cannot be immediately treated, and this often requires a "wait and see" approach. The type of treatment covered in his thesis could be used to treat patients sooner because it wouldn't have the same negative side-effects as more traditional treatments that degrade a patient's quality of life. This presentation by Weiyang provided a chilling reminder about the prevalence and destructiveness of cancer; however, it was oddly comforting to know that there are such intelligent people working to solve the problems that hinder mankind. Congratulations Weijang -- you're a very deserving winner, thank you for your hard work, and good luck!
Below is a photo of Weiyang, and also a synopsis of his research as it appeared in the award ceremony program. Be sure to check back soon for second part of this four part series.