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Improving Healthcare One Algorithm at a Time

Elizabeth Begin (MS ’08)

For months at a time, you might find Elizabeth Begin (MS ’08), an image-processing engineer at the Volcano Corporation, working toward developing a new algorithm that can be used in one of the company’s medical devices. It can be challenging work, but in the long run, she may play a big role in saving lives.

Elizabeth Begin pic

“It’s a great feeling to see an algorithm that you’ve spent months developing work on a real system and know that algorithm may someday help physicians and patients all over the world,” she said.

Begin’s main focus at Volcano is to develop signal and image processing algorithms to improve the experience of the physicians with their Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) system, currently under development. OCT has been used in ophthalmology and most recently through catheters for intravascular imaging. She develops algorithms to speed up acquisition, and improve image quality, user interaction, and image interpretability on this new system.

Begin’s current line of work is a complete 180-degree change from her first job. She began at Raytheon, a major defense contractor, as a systems engineer. Though she had a great experience there, her interest in the medical devices industry was too strong to pass up.

“I was concerned if I went much further in my career working in defense that it would become more difficult to make the transition,” Begin said.

Even as a graduate student, Professor Janusz Konrad, Begin’s advisor, said that it was clear early on that she wanted to work in healthcare.

“She always wanted to work in the medical field and help people, though she knew she would join Raytheon immediately upon graduation,” Konrad recalled.

At Boston University, Begin was both persistent and a hard worker.

“Liz quickly realized that research is actually re- and search,” said Konrad. “Her super-resolution project was very challenging. Even if she was happy with an improvement in her results, she knew she had to keep going. She never was discouraged. To the contrary, she always smiled.”

Begin said that her experience at BU was extremely positive.

“One of the most enjoyable parts of my experience was getting to know my professors and classmates,” she said. “It was great to collaborate with my classmates on class projects and really get to know them after many long hours working in the computer lab. We each had our own strengths from our different backgrounds and were able to learn from one another.”

Because of her success, ECE students may be able to learn from Begin’s experience.

“Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone, and don’t forget to celebrate your achievements,” she said.

-Samantha Gordon (COM ’12)
September 2011

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