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Ten UW undergrads selected as 2020 CoMotion Mary Gates Innovation Scholars – Part Three

Written by Debra Bouchegnies / October 14, 2020

Jason Yan

Lan Le

Students work in research areas including skin screening, organic luminescent devices and kidney stone treatments

In the final part of our series on the CoMotion Mary Gates Innovation Scholars (CMGIS) program, a paid summer internship where undergrad students apply their research skills to a UW innovation in development, we learn about three students working on projects from the College of Engineering, Applied Physics Lab and the UW School of Medicine.

Low-resource solutions track skin changes

Information School senior Jason Yan is working with the Smartphone for Skin Screening team (College of Engineering and School of Medicine, Department of Bioengineering) under the guidance of Ricky Wang. Jason, who is passionate about the research area of software development, wishes to devote himself to the whole development process of skin screening software and find ways to improve the final product in order to increase market competitiveness. The innovation is a smartphone-based system that produces images comparable to those created by expensive imaging tools in clinical laboratories. The tool could be useful to dermatologists and others in evaluating skin changes, including doing mole checks and spotting potential cancers. It is easy to operate, cost-effective, and could make hyperspectral analysis available to healthcare providers in rural and low-resource settings. Jason hopes to learn from both school and industry in order to bridge the gap between academia and industry, and become a better software engineer and researcher.

Light emitting cacao beans

Cacao Beans & Luminescence (College of Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering Department, Luscombe Research Group) will benefit from the research skill of Chemistry junior Lan Le under the guidance of Christine Luscombe. Lan was drawn to this project by her passion for curiosity, food and science. This project, which hopes to yield an environmentally friendly production of next-generation luminescent devices, has successfully synthesized highly fluorescent materials from theobromine, a compound found naturally in the cacao bean, and expanded their emission to the full visible light spectrum. She will contribute research about the innovation’s potential applications including expanding the spectrum to infrared as well as applications in vivo imaging. Lan looks forward to gaining experience and improving her presentation skills and hopes to obtain a Master’s degree in Food Sciences with an eye toward a career in manufacturing.

Sound solutions for a chronic illness

Materials Science and Engineering senior Rahaf Bashmail, will support research for Michael Bailey and the SonoMotion team (Applied Physics Lab, Department of Mechanical Engineering). Rahaf is passionate about pursuing a career in biomedical research and for innovative solutions to chronic diseases, which was one of the main reasons SonoMotion was his first choice among the internships offered. Rahaf shares, “This research group is involved in a range of research topics related to ultrasound-based detection and treatment of kidney stones which can lead to chronic kidney disease. Gaining knowledge and experience in 3D printing, acoustic measurement techniques and translational research techniques, in addition to designing experiments based on the specific testing objective are valuable skills to acquire for biomedical research.” Rahaf will be developing and testing software tools in MATLAB that could be applied to 3D data sets which have become critical as the project was changed to a software-based image processing project to allow for remote participation due to COVID-19.

For his senior project, Rahaf will be working with Professor Hinds on developing kidney dialysis systems using engineered membranes. The issues in both projects overlap and rely on foundational knowledge which he has already begun to acquire and he feels his participation in this project would enhance that knowledge, making his contribution a valuable one. Since Rahaf hopes to eventually work in the medical device industry, he will benefit from insights into the testing and designing process of medical devices and from practicing the communication skills needed when working with grad students and PIs.

Read about projects covered in part one and part two of this series.