CEAS Student Recognized for Outstanding Thesis

By: Liz Daubenmire

College of Engineering and Applied Science student, Gavin D’Souza was presented with the Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award on April 15th in St. Louis.

Gavin D'Souza, a Mechanical Engineering major from the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science, was shocked when he found out he was chosen to represent UC at the 2015 Midwest Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award in Physical Sciences/Engineering. Imagine his surprise when Gavin heard word from MAGS that he won!

“Having competed with universities from all over the Midwest, winning this award almost felt unbelievable at first; it took me a couple of reads of the email from MAGS before I could believe it. It was an honor for me to represent UC at the Midwest level and then go on to actually win such a prestigious award. So unexpected, but totally amazing!”

Gavin’s thesis titled, “Influence of Serial Coronary Stenoses on Diagnostic Parameters: An In-vitro Study with Numerical Validation” further investigates the diagnostic journey of heart patients. Gavin explains, “The goal of this research was to improve the diagnosis of coronary dysfunction in heart patients with multiple and serial obstructions in the coronary arteries.” The research was executed and completed under the guidance of his thesis advisor, Rupak Banerjee, PhD, PE, in the Transport in Engineering and Medicine (TEM) Lab at UC.

The topic and idea of this research was put forth by Gavin’s advisor. “Prior research in our lab, in the area of cardiovascular diagnostics, was focused on improving diagnosis of a single coronary obstruction using fundamental fluid mechanics principles. However, the effect of multiple obstructions present in series within a single coronary artery was not studied previously,” explains Gavin.

Gavin says several life experiences drew him towards the study of diagnosing and treating heart patients. “Coming from an engineering background, this research helped me gain an in-depth understanding of the complex function and anatomy of the cardiovascular system. Specifically, simulating the physiological function of the human heart in an in vitro (bench-top) setting was certainly challenging, but interesting and fun at the same time.”

He goes on to say, “I was also able to integrate engineering skills with biology in order to improve the clinical diagnosis of a cardiovascular disease. Specifically, in addition to delineating the uncertainties in the current clinical diagnostic measures for serial stenoses, a new and improved diagnostic parameter based on fundamental fluid mechanics was proposed and assessed.”

This prestigious award follows several of Gavin’s achievements. “This award is a result of a number of accomplishments which include three journal publications (two directly related to the thesis research), two Best Student Paper awards for conference presentations, an appointment to the Research Participation Program at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and membership in the Verification and Validation in Computational

Modeling of Medical Devices (V&V 40) CFD sub-committee.” His success paired with the kind recommendation letter from his advisor only added to Gavin’s impressive application for the award.

Gavin closes by expressing his gratitude, “In addition to the excellent academic support I received from UC, my advisor, colleagues in the TEM lab and at FDA, and my thesis committee members, the constant support and motivation from my parents, family and friends was instrumental towards the completion of my MS degree and the accomplishment of this award.”