A unique challenge that often goes unrecognized outside of the world of academics is the importance of being able to attract funding to support groundbreaking research and advancements in technology.
PhD candidate at the Queen's University School of Computing Mohamed Hefny is already demonstrating huge potential on a number of levels, including his studies, research career and his ability to generate funding to benefit his field on the world stage.
Mohamed was recently awarded a scholarship from SPIE, an international optics and photonics society serving more than 188,000 research organizations from 138 countries. SPIE was established in 1955 to advance emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent and career and professional growth.
Though the organization's awards are usually designated for research into the science and application of light, e.g. laser technologies, Mohamed's research focuses on the "registration process" used in computer-assisted surgeries in the evolving medical trend of scarless surgery.
"Referred to as "scarless surgery", where only a very small incision is made, the real challenge for surgeons doing this type of minimally invasive surgery is visualization," explains Mohamed. "The specialized registration process I am developing uses ultrasound and computed tomography to create images to help surgeons ‘orient' in their surroundings, thereby improving operating room efficiencies and patient outcomes."
Mohamed is conducting his PhD research through the Queen's computer-assisted surgery laboratory under the supervision of world-leader in biomedical computing and Queen's Research Chair Dr. Randy Ellis. Mohamed is developing algorithms and core technologies for the computer-assisted system and then interfacing these components to create pre-operative images, as well as real-time images.
These operations, usually on organs or bone tissue, used to involve much larger incisions and longer operation procedures, which in turn led to greater risk of infection and longer recovery times for the patients. With this form of minimally invasive surgery, the risks and recovery times are significantly reduced.
"One of the most important elements in successful research is building a team and that is how I choose my students," explains Dr. Randy Ellis, Queen's research chair at the School of Computing.
When asked about the notable awards Mohamed has already garnished, Randy emphasizes that he is always looking for well-rounded people with expertise in areas outside of research, such as industry and product development.
"Mohamed is a great fit - his educational background, experience in industry and expertise in project management makes him unique and a great asset for the School of Computing."
Working under the supervision of Randy was a key factor in why Mohamed chose Queen's for the centre of his research studies. In addition, the school also is co-founder of the Human Mobility Research Centre - a partnership between Queen's University and Kingston General Hospital that serves as a key point of collaboration between the disciplines of medicine, engineering, health sciences, and information technology
Mohamed acknowledges his success in securing academic funding is all about the application process. An accomplished professional in marketing and project management in education, technology and healthcare prior to entering PhD studies at Queen's, Mohamed is experienced in writing proposals, making him an ideal candidate for the research sector.
Since entering the world of academics at Queen's, Mohamed has earned several prestigious awards and scholarships, including the Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology and the Excellence in Teaching Assistantship Award. These have all been garnished not only through his excellence in research, but also in his ability to write effective proposals and applications thanks to his previous career experience.
The importance of interdisciplinary collaboration is essential for research success, especially in fields as complex as computer-assisted surgery, Randy emphasizes. "There is a mutual trust and respect for all the skills and knowledge our team members bring to the group."
For more information about the multidisciplinary approach at Queen's School of Computing visit http://www.cs.queensu.ca/. For more information on PhD candidate Mohamed Hefny, go to his personal site at http://research.cs.queensu.ca/home/hefny/