Maryam Sadeghi receives Dean's Convocation Medal

June 06, 2013

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, and as with all cancers, early detection leads to far happier outcomes for patients and their families. Dr. Maryam Sadeghi’s PhD research leads to significant breakthroughs in computer-aided diagnosis of skin cancers so that diagnoses can be made much earlier than previously possible.

Her major breakthroughs have led to international recognition as well as publication of her doctoral research in the top journals in her field, including, most recently, first authorship in IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention, and Computerized Medical Imaging and Graphics Journal (where her work was featured on the cover), among many others. Her publication and awards list exceeds that of most PhD students.

Dr. Sadeghi’s research extends well beyond the academy. Part of her dissertation, Towards prevention and early diagnosis of skin cancer: Computer-aided analysis of dermoscopy images, describes her ambitious efforts to increase awareness of the risk factors for skin cancer in the public realm. For this project, she and a team of good friends created the free iPhone App UV Canada which saw over 30,000 downloads when it was featured on Global TV and which was also featured by ITunes as a “New and Noteworthy” app. It also won the Population Health and Health Sciences Award at the BC Cancer Agency's annual cancer conference 2011. Most recent news: A UV US app has since been developed by her company, MetaOptima Technology Inc., and this week they launched both UV Canada and UV US for Android devices. (They're currently working on a "UV World" app.)

Dr. Stella Atkins, her supervisor, says, “Maryam is the best, and most well-rounded of the 40+ PhD and MSc students I have supervised in my career.” (To put that into perspective: In 2011, Dr. Atkins was recognized as one of SFU’s top graduate supervisors. Dr. Atkins’ testimonial is extremely high praise indeed, because she attracts and selects from the top graduate students in Computing Science at SFU.)

Dr. Atkins adds, "Maryam is now developing her PhD research into apps for melanoma prevention and for patient-supported self-diagnosis of melanoma, using skin images obtained from a dermoscope attached to a smartphone. This work will have a large impact on the way melanoma is diagnosed and will help empower patients to care for themselves and be aware of cancer risks."

Dr. Sadeghi's work wasn't purely academic, as she also served her many communities, from organizing conferences to being Treasurer of her department's Graduate Students Association  to serving as a reviewer for several IEEE publications to mentoring high school and undergraduate students at SFU's Let's Talk Science program.

And the awards keep coming. She took home the Gold award (the best of over 2,400 submissions) at the World Congress of Dermatology in Seoul, Korea, for her skin cancer detection program. She was also awarded the Silver Medal of ACM Student Research Competition from Microsoft Research and Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI).

On behalf of SFU, we congratulate Dr. Maryam Sadeghi on her outstanding achievements which are being recognized with the award of the Dean of Graduate Studies Convocation Medal as one of SFU's most outstanding graduate students from the Faculty of Applied Sciences.

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