Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (100-550 words)
Below the intense white lights of an operating theatre, a heart monitor exclaims its regular beeping. Lying half-conscious under the hands of the surgeon, the only communication between the operator and the ‘operated’ is through the beepings of the monitor. In the event something goes wrong, such as when anesthetic awareness occurs, the patient has no means of communicating pain; thus, an excruciating game of endurance would have to be played for the remainder of the operation. I would like to develop a new technique that could overcome this problem.
By pairing the use of stress-reducing frequency waves, and real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rtfMRI), I aspire to give surgeons the technology to live-monitor specific neural activations that indicate pain or pleasure. Actively tracking changes in brain activity can indicate instances when the half-conscious patient on the operating table is experiencing high levels of anxiety or discomfort. Adjustments to the wave frequency can then be made instantly by the surgical team, therefore diminishing the patient’s unease during surgery.
Grasping the basics of constructing medical devices is essential to inventing this new technology. At University of Michigan’s College of Engineering, the biomedical engineering curriculum is structured to focus on the electronic or mechanical design of biomedical devices. Its bioelectrical concentration course will not only teach me the fundamentals of building electronic systems, but also hone my analytical skills in troubleshooting technical issues, such as system errors or mechanical mistakes in biomedical devices.
Furthermore, I wish to maximise the research experiences I can obtain as an undergraduate; the large range of research programs at BME at U-M provides me with the greater opportunity to do so. For example, I hope to participate in one of the ongoing projects in the Design Program – ‘Improving Neuroprosthetic Interfaces with The Peripheral Nervous System.’ In addition to practising analytical lab skills and experiencing implantation surgery, it would give me insight to understanding the different methods of studying neural activity; all of which are necessary skills to inventing this new technique.
Natalie Chan is currently majoring in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan. Surprisingly, she only learned how to ride a bike when she turned 17 years old.
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