Biocomputational Engineering Student Spotlight: Ryan Trask

Ryan Trask has always been interested in the problem-solving and quantitative aspects of engineering and the complexity of biological organisms. Driven by a determination to work in the biotechnology field, Trask chose to study biocomputational engineering (BCE) at the University of Maryland.

 As a biocomputational engineering student, Trask is taking a deep dive into the world of biology and computer science by way of machine learning and exploration of biological systems. In particular, he’s using his knowledge and skill sets to seek new techniques to identify and diagnose lung cancer.

Trask transferred into the BCE program from Montgomery College with the help of BCE Program Coordinator Emily Bailey. Trask found that BCE was the perfect fit for him; it features small class sizes and offers a unique ability to learn hands-on skills in and outside the labs. He also noted that he and his classmates have already had a unique opportunity to write their own academic papers. 

“My favorite professor is Dr. Jarred Callura for his insightful discussion problems and easy-going personality,” Trask said. 

Last semester, Trask worked on his semester-long project about mRNA non-small cell lung cancer clinical biomarkers. He built a model using machine learning to determine the varying importance of different mRNAs discussed in academic literature and predict the survivability of patients. 

Trask continued this work during the summer with BCE faculty instructor Bardia Yousefi. Together, they obtained lung images and they obtained lung images that they translated into data segmented using specialized software. Trask and Yousefi aim to develop new approaches for identifying lung cancer in patients. 

“In my view, my degree adequately prepares me for a career in biotechnology by building on already established modeling and lab skills with statistical and programming skills through machine learning,” Trask said. 

Trask advises those interested in pursuing the biotech industry to keep in mind that it is an interdisciplinary industry. 

“You’ll have to know and work with diverse fields,” he said. “This means being ready to mix knowledge that to you used to seem as soluble as oil and water.” 

 Attend an upcoming Summer Info session – either in person or virtually – to learn more about what you can do with a bachelor's degree in Biocomputational Engineering!

 



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