Olivia Paserin, MASc '18, Biomedical Engineering
“Consider living somewhere new. I moved to BC without knowing anyone here and it has been the greatest time of rapid self-growth. Meet as many new people as you can.”
I am a second year master’s student in UBC’s School of Biomedical Engineering and my research is focused on developing image analysis techniques for 3D ultrasound for diagnosing developmental dysplasia of the hip. I work under Dr. Tony Hodgson and Dr. Rafeef Abugharbieh as part of the Surgical Technologies Laboratory (STL) and the Biomedical Signal and Image Computing Laboratory (BiSICL). I’m integrated within the biomed community through Hatching Health, the Technology in Medicine club and the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Association. My passions lie in interdisciplinary collaboration and working at the interface of medicine and engineering science.
Why did you choose engineering?
At the forefront of my mind was the intention to progress medicine — I was keen for a challenge and engineering is full of challenges. Being strong in math and science, I was driven to approach health care from a special angle, that of the engineering sciences. Pursuing the field of biomedical engineering seemed like a fulfilling route to take.
What has made your time at UBC the most memorable?
Upon my arrival at UBC, I immersed myself in the UBC BME community through several student clubs. I am co-president of UBC’s Technology in Medicine (TiM) club and am also involved with the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Association (BMEGA), both of which serve to organize technical workshops and social events for students. My greatest non-academic contribution this year has been co-directing Hatching Health, a medical innovation hackathon where 100 participants from engineering, medicine, and design tackled health care projects over a weekend. Engaging with the community at UBC has really been an important part of my time here.
Also, I can’t help but mention the proximity to Whistler. You can find me there on the weekends.
How do you feel a graduate degree in engineering has benefitted you compared to a different field of study?
Engineering is a really interesting field; you get to be creative, think critically, tackle meaningful, real world problems and potentially generate a big impact. You’re trained to be a great problem solver and embrace lifelong learning.
What advice would you give a student considering a graduate degree in engineering?
Go for it! Grad school is not easy, but it is worth it. It’s such a unique opportunity to make a project your own, travel to conferences around the world and create a new contribution within the field. Invest a great deal of time into meeting your potential supervisors and their students, these relationships will be a huge part of your graduate degree. It can be a long stretch, make sure you maintain a healthy work-life balance. Enter unfamiliar territory for the sake of rapid learning. Consider living somewhere new. I moved to BC without knowing anyone here and it has been the greatest time of rapid self-growth. Meet as many new people as you can. It’s going to be what you make of it — set goals and chase after them. Be thorough, make mistakes and have fun!
Where do you find your inspiration?
Two very different places: the orthopaedic clinic and academic conferences. I work with Dr. Kishore Mulpuri, a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at BC Children’s Hospital on a weekly basis. Spending time with him and his patients — those that we are designing new technologies for — is very inspiring. Last year I had the pleasure of attending international conferences in Aachen, Germany and Quebec City. Reaching outside my bubble in the lab and being surrounded by a myriad of researchers making progress in the same field leaves me energized and motivated every time.
What are your plans for the future?
Immediate plans include attending the Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Interventions (MICCAI) conference in Granada, Spain. I’ll be presenting our work on computerized assessment of 3D ultrasound for hip dysplasia. These few months leading up to that will consist of thesis writing followed by my thesis defense, and then I’ll be looking for work in industry and doing my best to help humanity move forward. Long-term, I’d like to mentor and inspire the next generation of women in engineering.