Program: PhD in Biomedical Engineering
Daniel Louie BME headshot. He is standing in front of a blurred outdoor background.

What attracted you to your field?

There is a common sentiment that biomedical research is done for the greater good and to help people by improving healthcare. This is indeed a strong motivator, but on a personal level, I was drawn to biomedical engineering because I enjoyed the intersection of physics, engineering, and medicine. My research in optical cancer detection is concerned with interpretation of complex fields of light. Similarly, biomedical engineering is a very complex field, with much still to be illuminated.

What is your favourite moment from your time at UBC?

In my third year of undergrad, I ended up applying for an NSERC undergraduate research award instead of continuing with my co-op program. I didn’t win the award at first. But I kept in communication with the supervisor and applied for the award again in the next cycle, which I did win that time around. That project evolved into my PhD project. Looking back, I’m glad I took the chance in leaving co-op, and stayed persistent in applying for the award.

What is one piece of advice you have for students entering your program?

Think bigger than your degree. What sector do you want to work in? What ideas do you want to work with? Hold your goals in mind, and you will be better positioned to find opportunities within your program to get you there. Biomedical engineering is a very wide field, and it’s up to you to take what you can from it.

Tell us about your research.

Imagine the surface of a lake during a heavy rainstorm. The drops create waves that intermingle and interfere with one another. I examine a similar phenomenon, except it’s the interference of light waves as they scatter off of biological tissue. Cancerous tissue is more disordered than healthy tissue, and so the interference pattern it creates has different properties. My work is to study the formation of these patterns and design ways to measure it, with the goal of creating lightweight and cost-effective cancer detection technologies.

What’s next for you?

I’m not stopping my research yet! Wherever in the world my work takes me, I intend to continue making new discoveries as a post-doctoral researcher, and perhaps as a professor one day.

This article was originally published on the following UBC page: