Q & A with ICM Undergraduate Intern Sarah Flaherty


ICM welcomes Sarah Flaherty, visiting undergraduate, to the laboratory of Tilak Ratnanather, associate research professor in the department of biomedical engineering, where she is doing summer research as part of the Internships for Undergraduate Scholars in Computational Medicine Program (IUSCMP).

The IUSCMP provides extended research opportunities in the lab of an ICM faculty member during the academic year and/or summer for students from the following local Maryland institutions/Scholar programs:  UMBC MARC U*STAR Scholars, Loyola CPaMS Scholars, and Morgan State University NIGMS-RISE Scholars AND ASCEND Scholars.

A rising junior at Loyola University, Flaherty is a CPaMS Scholar and Computer Science and Math major who has participated in internships at ICM during the 2017 -2018 academic year. Flaherty’s current research project explores the link between vestibular functions, such as spacial orientation and motion sensing, and the thickness of the insula in an aging population. Flaherty and her research partner, Shruthi Venkata, visiting researcher with the Center for Talented Youth Student Research Program, are investigating a possible correlation in the thickness of the insula, a region of the brain in the cerebral cortex, and the scores elderly patients received in vestibular function testing.

1. What drew you to ICM?
As a Computer Science and Math major, I was curious to learn how to apply my education to the real world. I was looking for ways to use my skills in order to help other people. A professor at Loyola suggested the ICM, which combines my love of Computer Science, Math, and people.

2. What made you want to continue in the ICM program after your first internship?
My first internship for the ICM in the fall of 2017 led to the spring of 2018 and summer. I was able to see my first project through in the fall and the results showed me that what happens at the ICM matters. It’s is an amazing opportunity to work with other students and professors who are passionate about Computational Medicine and to see your hard work show results.

4. What is your long term goal? Future plans?
I am hoping to pursue a masters in Computational Medicine or a PhD in the like. I plan to continue research and potentially teach CS or Computational Medicine at the university level in the future.

5. What do you hope to gain from your summer research experience?
I I hope to gain exposure to the ways that my education can be applied. I hope to learn critical research skills; such as writing up my results to be shared, analysis of my results, and looking for flaws and potential deviation in my calculations. Beyond that, I expect to gain experience working with others and sharing skills to make our lab successful and efficient.

Flaherty will present her research at the School of Medicine’s C.A.R.E.S. Symposium on July 26, 2018.

JHU - Institute for Computational Medicine