Graduate Tales

Ever wonder what happens once the hats land and the hoopla is over? IBBME speaks to three outstanding graduates about their future plans.graduates - fall 2013

Top left: Maneesha Rajora; bottom left: Paul Oramasionwu; right: Jason Miklas

Click here to view images from the Fall 2013 Convocation.

Maneesha Rajora (Supervisor: Paul Santerre) – While earning her MASc, Maneesha was integrally involved in the life of IBBME as a co-organizer of IBBME’s Scientific Day. Maneesha was awarded an NSERC and an OGS scholarship in 2012, and the Barbara and Frank Milligan Scholarship in 2011.

Jason Miklas (Supervisor: Milica Radisic) – Before Jason earned his MASc, he was first author in a major publication involving a process of maturing cardiac tissue cells through the application of electricity. Jason won an NSERC in 2013 and was awarded a CIHR Master’s Award in 2012.

Paul Oramasionwu (Supervisor: Alex Mihailidis) – For his MHSc degree, Paul was part of a team working to design an intelligent wheelchair. He fulfilled the internship component of his degree at Imprivata, a private biomedical firm in Boston, MA.

1. What are you doing post-graduation?

Maneesha: I am currently pursuing an MD/PhD degree at the University of Toronto. I’m in my first year of the medical school portion of the program and will be entering into my PhD next September. Right now, we are learning the foundations of anatomy and physiology that we can apply during med school (and hopefully during my PhD and beyond).

Paul: I started working at Imprivata (Boston, M.A.) in October 2013. I completed an internship there during my second winter term. I had the opportunity to work directly under the CTO. He was impressed with my work there and decided to offer me a position.

Specifically, I’m researching, prototyping, and evaluating potential technology opportunities within the arena of healthcare IT. I am seeking to identify technologies that optimize clinical workflow by enhancing communication, collaboration and care coordination.

Jason: I’m pursuing a PhD in Bioengineering at the University of Washington (Seattle).

2. What are your plans for the future/your career?

Maneesha: Ultimately, I’d like to combine my medical education and graduate research experience towards becoming a clinician scientist. I’m not sure exactly what medical specialty I want to pursue at this point. But research-wise, I’m interested in the field of biomaterials.

Jason: Ideally, I would like to try and make my way into the pharmaceutical industry. Specifically, I would like to try and develop in vitro platforms based on human pluripotent stem cells to test the efficacy and safety of novel drugs as part of the pre-clinical drug discovery process.

3. A lot of young people – including those with graduate degrees – are worried about their future career prospects. Have you been worried about getting a good job after graduation, or working in your field?

Jason: The biotech field has had a large growth rate in Ontario and The United States. While it is difficult to develop certain technologies in the private sector due to cost and the time involved (ex: stem cell technologies), I believe that there is lots of opportunity. I don’t think I would have had too much trouble finding a job after graduation. However, without a PhD I think it would be difficult to achieve certain career goals, which is why I decided to continue on and pursue a PhD.

Maneesha: The University of Toronto has fantastic undergraduate medical and graduate school programs, which makes me more confident in the education and training I have and will be receiving. Combined with hard work and the pursuit of a career I’m passionate about, this eases my concerns about finding a good job as a physician.

Paul: Finding a job upon graduation was definitely a concern for me. However, I felt that the CE program at the U of T would equip me with skills and experience necessary for employment in the field of healthcare technology.

4. Do you think you’ll continue to live/work where you are now?

Maneesha: It’s hard to predict where I may be placed for residency, but Toronto would definitely be a great place to work after medical school. The city is a hub for biomedical research, which I would love to be a part of one day.

Jason: Since the pharmaceutical industry is stronger in the U.S. I do think I will continue to work in the U.S. after my degree.

Paul: Yes, I’m definitely enjoying the experience thus far. Boston, in particular has a very rich history and culture; there are also many opportunities for engineers in the field of healthcare technology.

5. What’s the most important lesson you learned during your degree?

Maneesha: One of the key lessons I learned during my MASc was the importance of collaboration in an academic setting. Collaboration, regardless of its success, is a wonderful learning opportunity. It allows one to understand and integrate different perspectives towards addressing a research problem and greatly enhances one’s communication skills.

Paul: I’m most successful when I really take ownership of whatever project, problem or task presented to me. I’ve learned to leave nothing to chance or circumstance and to really pay attention to detail.

6. What does it mean to you – personally and professionally – to hold a graduate degree from U of T/ IBBME?

Paul: I feel very accomplished graduating from one of the top BME schools in the country. Through the course of my program I’ve had the opportunity to connect with a variety of health professionals.

7. What is your best memory or experience at IBBME?

Maneesha: I’ve had a lot of great experiences within the IBBME community, but one highlight was serving as the co-chair of Scientific Day. Through this event, I had the opportunity to meet and interact with a wonderful team of students, encouraging staff and leading scientists in the field of biomaterials and biomedical engineering.

Jason: Working late into the night with friends in the lab and then going out and having a great dinner in the city.

8. Do you have any advice for current students at IBBME?

Jason: Work hard, plan your next career steps and, of course, have fun!

Maneesha: I don’t know if I’m qualified enough at this point to give any profound words of wisdom, but I would advise students to make the most of their graduate school experience by exploring all their interests, whether they be research, teaching, or extra-curricular in nature. Doing things you enjoy and having a balance during school always helps in overcoming the ups and downs that come with research. I would also recommend students to make the most of their experience at IBBME by exploring opportunities to network and learn from individuals both within and outside their specific areas of research. With such a diverse array of work being conducted in the Institute, there is a lot that can be learned.

Paul: My advice is to network as much as possible over the course of your degree. You’ll have the opportunity to meet many amazing people doing very fascinating work; it’s definitely in your best interest to connect with as many as possible.