Student Q&A: Biomedical Engineering Student-Researcher Publishes Studies of the Heart
Andre Faubert ’23 directs his passion for biomedical engineering into biophotonics and imaging research
In May 2021, Stevens Institute of Technology senior biomedical engineering major Andre Faubert joined the laboratory of Shang Wang, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, to research biophotonics. After learning about different biomedical imaging techniques in Wang's “Introduction to Biomedical Engineering” class his sophomore year, Faubert now uses digital image processing techniques to study the hearts of mouse embryos.
Faubert joined Sophia Donskoy ’26, a first year biomedical engineering student, to discuss the experience.
Donskoy: Can you describe the research you are conducting in the biophotonics laboratory?
Faubert: In our lab, we focus on using an imaging technique known as optical coherence tomography (OCT) for developmental biology, where we specifically study the heart and reproductive tract of mice. Personally, I am focused on studying the heart and processing the OCT data to quantify the metrics of the heart, such as blood flow and the pattern of a heartbeat. Currently, I’m working on my second publication, where I have taken the scans of embryos from a couple years ago and aligned them with my algorithm to quantify the flow pattern and monitor heart development to identify the causes of congenital heart defects.
D: What do you find most interesting about the work you are doing?
F: I really like to find new ways of interpreting data and information, and since the heart structure is already well known, we can use the OCT to interpret the functional aspects of the heart rather than just structural. OCT offers the ability to conduct a longitudinal study and watch a live image of the developing heart in a single embryo. It also tells us a lot about the dynamics of the mouse embryo heart, which is important because mice, like humans, have a four-chambered heart, so we can use the data from the mouse heart to interpret how it can apply to humans.
D: What was your most significant achievement doing research in this lab?
F: My most significant achievement was probably my first publication, in which I improved on an algorithm that takes regular three-dimensional scans of the heart and, using its periodicity, I was able to realign the data into a four-dimensional video of the mouse’s heartbeat to quantify the biometrics of the heart more precisely.
D: Can you tell me about your senior design project?
F: Our senior design group is designing a wearable device for diagnosing and differentiating the types of spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological disorder characterized by uncontrolled spasms of the vocal cords that impedes the ability to smoothly speak. Although this isn’t actually related to my work in the lab beside the use of computers and digital signal processing, the skills are very cross-compatible because audio-filtering is not too different from image filtering in terms of understanding the necessary mathematical and mechanistic procedures.
D: How do you apply your Stevens education to your research?
F: Biomedical engineering at Stevens is interdisciplinary: there are components of electrical and mechanical engineering, chemistry, biology, and so on. In the digital signal processing (DSP) class, the concepts and skills I learned are used to quantify the heart’s electrical signal in the DSP Lab, which are directly applicable to digital image processing. I actually applied an image-filtering function I learned from that class to create a clearer image from the OCT. Other classes from which I applied what I learned to the research include “Biotransport,” where we learned a lot about viscosity and shear stress, as well as “Mechanics of Solids” and the mechanical engineering “Fluid Dynamics” course.
D: What’s next? What are your plans after graduation?
F: I am still deciding between going straight into working in the industry or pursuing my Ph.D.. I really enjoy the work I am doing here with Dr. Wang, so I may go straight into getting a Ph.D. here and then continue with research in the industry or even a start-up of my own. The other alternative is going into industry and then getting a Ph.D. later on, either here at Stevens or at another institution.