Summer Gibbs—Ph.D. '07

Summer Gibbs

When I started college I never envisioned myself as an engineer and Thayer did not seem the most likely place for the graduate education of someone who wanted to be a practicing medical doctor. However, while earning my B.S. in Biochemistry at Whitworth College (Spokane, WA) I had the opportunity to participate in research programs that opened my eyes to the vast world of research opportunities.

I had always been interested in mathematics and science and began to realize that these skills and interests could be applied through research to solve the human health problems of today. In fact, the summer between my junior and senior year in college I learned that there was a whole field devoted to this type of study termed biomedical engineering. I was fascinated by this and realized that I might be better able to serve humanity if I spent my time researching new medical technology rather than running my own clinical practice.

Following this discovery I searched for an engineering school that would accept me since I did not have a background in engineering nor an engineering based major like physics or mathematics. I visited a number of graduate engineering programs during my senior year, but none that compared to the graduate engineering program at Thayer.

Summer Gibbs

During my visit to Thayer I was able to speak with a number of faculty, including my advisor, Professor Brian Pogue as well as many current students. Professor Pogue told me about the research his group was engaged in to create new noninvasive cancer imaging techniques as well as novel therapy strategies. I found the study of better cancer imaging technology and treatment to be captivating and thought it would be a most rewarding career path as cancer affects such a vast number of people today there is hardly anyone who hasn't been touched by the disease and its effects.

Although I was very enthusiastic about studying biomedical engineering, my undergraduate degree in a different field, biochemistry, did not prepare me for the engineering course work I would encounter. Professor Pogue was immensely supportive and understanding of this change of focus in my education and assisted me in choosing a course load that would allow me to gain the necessary engineering knowledge, while capitalizing on my skills as a biochemist in the research lab. The instruction I received at Thayer from my professors proved to be invaluable as my advisor and instructors helped me bridge the gap between biochemist and biomedical engineer.

White Mountains

Besides a wonderful engineering education, life at Dartmouth and in the Upper Valley has much to offer its students and residents. I enjoyed many hiking and camping trips around the area as well as biking, canoeing and running. The fall foliage is unlike anything I ever experienced and there are many fall festivals to enjoy. The winter offers great skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and other winter sports. The small community of students at Thayer give it a very friendly atmosphere where students can study and work together but also enjoy partaking in the many activities that exist outside of class and the research lab.