Student Voices

Travel Report: Alexandre Laurin, BPK

November 20, 2014

Alexandre Laurin, a Doctoral student in BPK, received a Graduate International Research Travel Award to further his research in France.

         My internship in the M3DISIM project team was fruitful and constructive. The goal was to create a mathematical model of the thorax that is able to vibrate similarly to an actual human thorax, as induced by the beating heart. We succeeded in completing preliminary work for an initial publication on the subject of this modeling.

        Initially, we identified in detail the mechanical properties of the relevant tissues in the thorax: sternal and costal bone, as well as costal cartilage. In order to test these mechanical properties, we used them to create a simple spring-and-mass model, which gave a signal that very closely resembled an actual seismocardiography recording. This was a great sign. We then moved to a more complete model that resembled a single vibrating ‘rib’, on to an idealized whole thorax made of elementary geometric shapes, and finally to a life-like 3D model adapted from existing images of a whole human body.

        The results obtained therein marked the end of the internship. These results were quite encouraging, and all the participating collaborators were entirely satisfied with the quality and quantity of work that had been achieved. Today, we communicate frequently to fine-tune the model and are currently planning a second trip to complete the model and produce a publication.

        The benefits of the internship, in terms of my research career, are abundant and clear. Apart from the technical aspects of learning modeling algorithms and software, my contact with another laboratory has expanded my understanding of post-doctoral research options. I was especially struck by the M3DISIM policies of organized social interaction, which occurred at least twice daily, as well as a coherent hierarchical organization whereas it was always easy to ask questions to asuperior, and know that valid questions and concerns would make their way to the principal investigator and to the whole team.

        I could not have hoped for a better internship. Not only was I in contact with the expertise that exactly complemented my supervision here at SFU, but I also felt like I was bringing knowledge that would have otherwise been very difficult for them to obtain. The professional relationships that were developed will potentially last for my entire career (we are discussing post-doctoral opportunities for me), and the friendships found have made the work all the more rewarding. I owe a lot to the GIRTA, without whom this opportunity might never have become a reality.

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