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Developing Devices for Doctors

Paolo GiacomettiIf Paolo Giacometti and his colleagues are successful, doctors will someday be able to read the health of your brain by placing a sophisticated sort of cap on your head. The applied physics graduate is a Ph.D. candidate studying biomedical engineering at Dartmouth College's Thayer School of Engineering.

Biomedical engineering is a rapidly expanding field in which major advances are being made. Tools as common as a stethoscope and as complex as a magnetic resonance imaging system (MRI) are developed by biomedical engineers.

Giacometti is working to develop technologies that help medical professionals diagnose, track, and treat diseases that affect millions of people. One of these is Alzheimer's, a degenerative disease for which there is currently no cure.  Professors in the lab he works in are developing a head probe designed to measure neurological and vascular activity in the brain. The technology exists to measure both, but it is expensive and cumbersome.  The cap that Giacometti is working on does both at once, making it more affordable and accessible.

Giacometti, from Quito, Ecuador, also has a minor in computational physical science. "I think abstractly and have always had an inclination for design and for tinkering," he says.

When he was interested in topics that weren't in the curriculum, Giacometti's professors created courses. He credits professors Schnick, Guerra and Durham in the physics department and professor Malita in the computer science department for helping him to succeed. "The small size of the department allowed me to have an extremely personalized education, professors who were available and very approachable, and experiences and opportunities catered specifically to my needs," he says.

Professors Malita and Durham created the computational physical science minor in his senior year, making him the first person to receive it. "They all made me feel like they were working specifically for me to have the best college experience I could have," he says.

Saint Anselm was a good fit for Giacometti and his two older brothers. He went to a small high school where everyone knew each other, so he wanted a small college where he could have that same kind of experience.

While at Saint Anselm, Giacometti had an internship at DEKA, a biomedical engineering company in Manchester, N.H. The internship eventually turned into a year and a half part time job during his junior and senior year and full time during the summers. "This job and my studies at St. A's gave me the basis to move forward in my career and get into the Ph.D. program at Dartmouth," he says.

After completing his doctorate, Giacometti hopes to work at a biomedical engineering company or a research and development firm where he can keep designing and developing new products.