By Karen Richardson
Queen's is a forerunner in biomedical computing, a growing field in the School of Computing which combines the diagnostic and investigative aspects of biology and medical science with the power and problem-solving capabilities of modern computing. Faculty members in the School of Computing carry out leading-edge research in biomedical imaging, computer-aided surgery, computational biology and computational neuroscience.
Janice Glasgow, Professor and Research Chair in the school, started the only undergraduate program in biomedical computing in Canada seven years ago. "One of the things the undergraduate program did was it attracted more females because a lot of women are interested in the biomedical application." Two years ago she helped initiate an undergraduate conference in biomedical computing run by students, an event which has been held across the country.
Dr. Glasgow is also the director of the Computational Imagery Laboratory and a member of the Centre for Neuroscience Studies at Queen's. Her main research focus has been in the area of artificial intelligence, as well as applications in biomedicine. She teaches bioinformatics at the graduate level and is in the process of proposing a new, unique graduate program in biomedical computing. "There are biomedical engineering programs and bioinformatics programs, but our program is unique in that it covers several areas in bioinformatics but also in medical informatics," she says. "The program will build on the strength of the computer-aided surgery researchers in the school."
Dr. Glasgow is also the recipient of computer-aided surgery hip resurfacing that was developed out of the labs in the department. She is currently initiating potential collaborations with other universities to combine expertise in the areas of surgery and bioinformatics in the graduate programs. "Biomedical computing is a diverse field. It varies from medical imaging processing, to computer-aided surgery, protein/protein interactions and medical robotics."
Within Dr. Glasgow's group, students work on projects ranging from the biological, such as determining protein structure, to biochemical, such as the study of proteins, and applying computational techniques to be able to predict structure from sequence information.
Students also participate in leading-edge research in the neuroscience department to analyze data from the KINARM robot. The robot is used to assess stroke patients and their motor disabilities and as they undergo rehabilitation. Students also analyze eye-movement data for diagnosis of neuro-physiological disorders such as attention-deficit disorder. "Right now stroke patients are assessed mainly by physicians, whereas the robotics is calibrated and can get exact measurements of how well they can perform different tasks."
While there is still ample room for students to conduct basic computer science research, some of the more exciting areas of research combine computing in some application, she says. Students in computer science have worked collaboratively with fine arts students in the past to design computer games, for instance.
Many social activities and athletics also take place in the School of Computing for students, faculty and staff. Women in the School of Computing organize retreats every year, for example, and there are musical concerts annually. "It's a very close and friendly group of people in the school," says Dr. Glasgow.