Visiting student Carla Winsor’s year at Insigneo

Visiting student Carla Winsor’s year at Insigneo

The Insigneo Institute for in silico Medicine is a very diverse, multi-disciplinary community and regularly hosts academics and students from around the world who contribute greatly to the life of the Institute. We are very pleased to be able to share the experience of University of Wisconsin – Madison graduate student, Carla Winsor, who has just spent a year at the Insigneo Institute:

“My name is Carla Winsor and I’m a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison under the supervision of Heidi-Lynn Ploeg and Corinne Henak. I have spent one year here at the University of Sheffield and the Insigneo Institute for in silico medicine, studying abroad. The Insigneo Institute provided me with a fantastic, friendly, and competitive environment for PhD research with world-class mentoring from researchers at all stages in their career. My experience can illustrate the impact such a community can have on a young researcher.

“Professor Viceconti, Dr. Li, and Dr. Qasim researchers at Insigneo mentored me in January 2017 as I wrote an application for a Whitaker International Fellowship. The Whitaker International Fellowship is focused on identifying the future leaders of biomedical engineering in the USA and providing them with funding to gain an international perspective. They guided me in writing a successful research proposal, and learning to identify key facts that articulate the importance of my research. Their insights provided me with the wisdom my experience could not yet supply and allowed my proposal to be selected for this highly competitive fellowship.

“More than just changing my daily work, the researchers at Insigneo have expanded my understanding of conducting research, planning a career as a researcher, and building frameworks to empower large-scale collaboration. Through lunch time conversations, team building, the Modelathon, and regular group meetings, the Insigneo community has helped me grow, find my confidence as an engineer, and identify the path forward towards meeting my potential as a researcher. Learning about the virtual physiological human project has been inspiring. Seeing how multi-scale modelling can bring together different kinds of experimental results and computational models to make something new gave me a new sense of respect for what researchers can accomplish when we work together.

“My tenure in this fellowship and conducting research at Insigneo has significantly changed the scope of my PhD. Prior to coming to Insigneo, I spent 12 months struggling to teach myself the basics of femoral anatomy, segmentation in Mimics, and performing simulations in Abaqus. Being able to interact with post-doctoral researchers at Insigneo has allowed me to gain insights into all of these tasks. Observing a post-doctoral researcher evaluate my segmentation for ten minutes gave me insights into where to spend more time, a better understanding of how to distinguish between bone and soft tissue on clinical CT scans, and taught me a few short-cuts in the segmentation software. After 11 months at Insigneo, I can confidently run the CT to Strength image-based modelling pipeline. This year, I have managed to process and begin to analyze more than 50 patients – this is much larger than the 12 originally planned before I received the Whitaker International Fellowship.

“As I transition back to my graduate program at the University of Wisconsin – Madison in the Bone and Joint Biomechanics lab, I have a renewed sense of purpose, an updated sense of priorities for my research work, and a sense of community with the researchers I have met this year. I strive to continue contributing to biomechanics in the international research community as I continue studying bone and the finite element modelling of bone. I also plan to make some time to develop the ability to communicate effectively with industry, regulatory agencies and policy makers.

“I cannot thank the University of Sheffield, or the Insigneo Institute enough for hosting me this year or for the lessons they have taught me as I have taken my first steps as a researcher. I highly recommend this kind of research exchange, and I am honored to participate in such an experience. Additional thanks to the Whitaker Foundation and the Institute for International Education.”