ECE PhD student wins Ballard and Seashore Dissertation Award

Yue Pan, a graduate student in the electrical and computer engineering (ECE) department has been awarded a Ballard and Seashore Dissertation award. She was also nominated by International Education Week as a graduate student of note. Pan comes to UI from Beijing, China. She started her Ph.D. program at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Iowa since 2014.

Pan’s Ph.D. research involves investigating new ways to apply medical image registration techniques and advanced mathematics, to improve the treatment of lung cancer, and  Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). In some lung cancer cases, one or more lobes in the lung collapse due to the tumor, preventing air from reaching those parts of the lung. One conventional treatment for lung cancer is to treat cancer with external radiation over the course of 5-7 weeks. Ideally, the tumor will shrink in size during treatment allowing air to reenter the collapsed lobe and return it to normal function. Pan and her advisor, Prof. Gary Christensen, are investigating new ways to register CT images of the lung when one or more collapsed lobes open due to radiation therapy. This is an essential but difficult image registration task since the shape of the lung, as imaged by CT is very different before and after re-inflation. This research is needed to correctly compute the cumulative radiation dose to adapt the radiation therapy treatment plan to the new shape of the lung.  Pan published a paper entitled “Current- and Varifold-Based Registration of Lung Vessel and Airway Trees” at the 7th International Workshop on Biomedical Image Registration (WBIR2016). This paper demonstrated the advantages of using varifold- based image registration compared to current-based image registration for registering the vascular structure of the lung. This work may lead to improved image registration for tracking lung motion over the breathing cycle, tracking anatomical and function changes over time, and detecting abnormal mechanical properties of the lung.

Regarding her recent award winning streak Pan said, “The University of Iowa provides international students with a conducive and friendly environment to study aboard. It is my honor to be nominated by the International Education Week and to share my experience with other people. I am also grateful to receive the Ballard and Seashore Dissertation Fellowship, which enables me to focus on my research.