Danielle Pace MSc

Danielle Pace MSc

 My undergraduate degree was in Biomedical Computing at Queen’s University in Kingston. During that time, I spent a couple of summers as a research assistant at the Department of Physiology, working on computational models of motorneuron cellular biophysics.  I also spent a summer at the Surgical Planning Laboratory in Boston, Massachusetts, where I developed an interactive tutorial system on image-guided therapy using 3D Slicer (an open-source medical imaging software application) and a small robot.

During my Master’s I chose tospecialize in medical imaging, more specifically in using ultrasound during image-guided therapy. Minimally-invasive interventions have many advantages for patients, but are often more difficult for clinicians because the small incisions involved prevent them from directly seeing what they are doing.. Image-guided therapy uses medical images such as MRI, CT, fluoroscopy or ultrasound to guide the surgeon throughout a procedure, often using a three dimensional virtual reality environment. Ultrasound is well suited for use within the operating room, and it’s a fascinating imaging modality: clinicians are able to glean a lot of valuable information from these images, and yet it is very difficult to analyze them automatically. There is still a lot of work to be done!

The group in Imaging was always very supportive, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable.  Throughout my thesis project, my supervisor was always available to discuss how things were going and provided a lot of guidance.  I was also very impressed by the varied experience that my fellow graduate students had.  There were engineers from various disciplines, computer scientists, physicists, medical students, and more, and these people can be your best resources.

The wide array of imaging equipment within BIRC that is dedicated to research is very unique, and creates a great environment to work in. The enthusiasm and involvement of the clinicians within our research group was also fantastic.  Working with them so closely ensures that you keep addressing clinically-relevant problems, and they were an endless source of knowledge, ideas, and experience.

Some of my most memorable experiences from my Master’s are from the several conferences and workshops that I had the opportunity to attend.  It’s fantastic to interact with some of the leading researchers in your field, and I always left with even more enthusiasm and ideas for the work I was doing.

I recently graduated and I’ve now started as a Research and Development Engineer at Kitware Inc. a software development company with a large focus on medical imaging and on open-source software.  Many of the open-source toolkits we work on are used extensively by both industrial engineers and academic researchers in medical imaging and image-guided therapy. In the future, I plan tocontinue working on software development and research in the medical imaging field.  As a computer scientist and software developer, I’m always at my best developing algorithms or plugging away in front of a computer screen, but I enjoy the fulfillment and personal sense of contribution to society that working in the medical field brings.