The Imaging Science & Informatics Predoctoral Training Program at UT Austin is a unique academic adventure, and its membership recently grew even larger. Six biomedical engineering graduate students are now a part of the prestigious program that includes summer externship opportunities and a clinical immersion experience.

The highly selective program trains comprehensive imaging scientists in the skills necessary to improve the prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment of human diseases. A one-year, NIH T32 supported fellowship includes a stipend, funds for educational and research supplies, as well as two semesters of tuition.

The program focuses on four core areas:

  • Instrumentation, Devices, and Contrast Agents
  • Image Processing
  • Modeling and Visualization
  • Informatics

Meet the newest class of students:

Blake Evans


Blake is a first-year student rotating with Professor James Tunnell and Associate Professor Ed Castillo. He graduated from Michigan State in the Spring of 2023 with a degree in electrical engineering. However, he decided to switch to biomedical engineering to have more opportunities to work closely with translational research. Blake’s interest in developing imaging systems and imaging processing techniques for clinical translation was a primary factor that boosted his interest in the program. Additionally, Blake is enthusiastic about the opportunity for the clinical exposure and mentorship the program offers. The externship opportunity within the program is without a doubt another highlight. For Blake, it is the exciting opportunity to diversify his research experience and strengthen technical research skills. Ultimately, he feels the program is an excellent way to begin networking as a novel graduate student and researcher.

He plans to use this opportunity to make connections in academic research and in the industry so that he can determine the most fitting professional path.

“Academically, the program provides the framework to become an expert in biomedical imaging. This will both strengthen my research, but it will also expose me to knowledge that I may not encounter in the lab; making me a more well-rounded scientist,” he said.

Brian Lee

Brian Lee Web

Brian is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Biophotonics Lab led by professor James Tunnell. He received his Bachelors of Science in Biomedical Engineering in May of 2023 from UT Dallas. His research interests in photonics and optical imaging made the program an ideal fit for him to advance as an imaging scientist. The externship opportunity made the program even more appealing.

Brian is working to expand his network during his Ph.D. program and views the externship as a way to make new connections.

“I believe what I have learned so far and lessons I will learn during this fellowship will be essential in becoming a noteworthy imaging scientist in the future. I intend to continue working in the optics field and the topics covered in the imaging fellowship are great opportunities for me to excel my aptitude and expand my skill set in this field,” he said. 

Gabriela Renta-Lopez:

Gabriela web

Gabriela is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Biomedical Informatics Lab (BMIL) with Mia Markey, Ph.D. She earned a Bachelors of Science in Industrial Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. Building upon her experience in biopharmaceuticals and medical devices, and healthcare industries, Gabriela is focused on developing decision support systems for clinical decision making to improve the quality of life for breast cancer patients.

Her interests align with the core values of the BMIL for performing data-driven research to create novel solutions striving for a continuous improvement environment. She is also enthusiastic about solving clinical problems with her statistical technical background and strong interest in data modeling, visualization, and informatics.

Gabriela values the importance of the imaging science field, noticing the benefits of detecting and treating diseases and anomalies in the human body. She experienced imagining technology at a manufacturing level to validate the accuracy of medical device dimensions and measure precision for quality assurance at a high-speed rate. The combination of her well-rounded experiences and future goals aligns with the program's comprehensive training.

Ultimately, Gabriella aspires to be an entrepreneur in the healthcare field and is confident that the training of the imaging science and informatics program is the correct choice to maintain and build this path. 

“I am determined to advance and improve healthcare systems, ensuring everyone has access to quality care regardless of their socioeconomic background; with a passion for creating fair and equitable healthcare services for all. I am confident that I will make a meaningful impact in the world, starting in Puerto Rico,” she said. 

Ayesha Bharadwa Das

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Ayesha is a second-year graduate student working with Dr. Tom Yankeelov. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from NYU. Her primary research interest is quantifying hypoxia noninvasively using MRI. She is also interested in incorporating these hypoxia measurements in a mathematical model to predict tumor response to radiotherapy and determine the optimal schedule of radiotherapy.

Ayesha applied for the Imaging Science & Informatics program for the valuable opportunity to learn from a group of researchers like herself who are also interested in imaging. Similar to others, the various professional development opportunities offered by the program is what piqued her interest.

During her time in the program and thereafter, Ayesha looks forward to formulating connections with other experts in the flourishing field of imaging and informatics.

“I would like to join the network of imaging scientists and help develop MRI as a better imaging modality in the clinic,” she said.


Haidyn Ogg

 Haidyn Ogg

Haidyn is a second-year Ph.D. student working with Laura Suggs, Ph.D. She obtained a Bachelors of Science in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering with a minor in Biomedical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines.

Her primary research interest is the development of biomaterials for stem cell and tissue engineering. She said the Imaging Science & Informatics program piqued her interest since it seemed like a good opportunity to broaden her knowledge beyond the “cells on gels” world. Additionally, she hopes to gain insight into imaging characterization methods that can expand the understanding of the chemical, mechanical, and physio-spatial properties of biomaterials and allow for a deeper understanding of the crucial material-cellular interface. 

During her first year at UT, Haidyn took a course that covered advanced imaging techniques that can be used to characterize biomaterials and create spatially-temporally dynamic materials. She is excited for the opportunity to gain the access and knowledge she needs to implement these techniques through the program.

“I plan to use this experience to not only help incorporate advanced imaging techniques into my research, but also to help me tackle some of my engineering weaknesses that have developed as someone who has always pursued “wet-lab” research, such as coding and modeling. I plan to utilize the externship and various professional development opportunities to help prepare me for a life outside of academia,” she said.

Dominique Jordan

DJordan Headshot web 

Dominique received her Bachelors of Science in Neuroscience with a Minor in Biochemistry from the University of Arizona, She is a first-year Ph.D. student, rotating in the Cosgriff-Hernandez and Stachowiak labs. 

Her primary research interests are regenerative medicine, medical devices, and membrane-based therapeutics—making the program an ideal fit. For Dominique, it was more than the opportunity to gain knowledge and expertise in her field that made the program intriguing. The support system offered by the mentorship committee along with the internship experience are both a bonus.

Dominique’s long-term plans are to work in either industry or a government-funded lab, making the internship a tremendous opportunity. 

“I plan on using this experience to diversify and expand upon my academic career. I have not had any previous experience with imaging science so I expect to learn a lot from this program. I plan on applying what I learned from this program and applying it to my research area. Although my research area does not involve imaging science, I think this program will equip me with new approaches that can be applied to any field of research,” she said.

Additional Program Perks

Participants of the Imaging Science and Informatics Program are also eligible for a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) training grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB).