Delaram Behnami

A machine learning framework for automated diagnostic assistance in echocardiographic images
Dr. and Mrs. Brandwajn Graduate Award in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

On some level, I always wanted to pursue a graduate degree because my dream job was to become a teacher/professor. In my final year of undergrad (2013-14), I worked on a Capstone project with my now-supervisor Dr. Purang Abolmaesumi and McKesson Imaging (now Change Healthcare). The project was on automatic detection of patient orientation in x-ray images, and in fact, it led to a patent eventually. I really enjoyed working with medical images and decided to a master's degree (2014). It felt pretty natural for me then to go from MASC to PhD after (2016).

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

It sounds cliche, but UBC kind of does feel like my (second) home at this point. I have been a UBC student since 2009 and I still love it. I love the campus (which feels like a little city), the vibe and how safe it feels, and I really enjoy the research we do.

What is it specifically, that your program offers, that attracted you?

I particularly love working in the intersection of biomedical engineering, computer vision, and machine learning--it is a research area that can have and potential large-scale impacts on people's health and well; and, it has a little bit of everything I like! My research group (Robotics and Controls Laboratory - RCL) focuses exactly on. We have access to a network of engineering and clinical professionals and state-of-the-art equipment for conducting research. Also, our department (ECE) offers courses relevant to this field.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

Honestly, what surprises me still is that I still find new exciting things to do on campus after being a UBC student for over a decade! It's always very refreshing.

It sounds cliche, but UBC kind of does feel like my (second) home at this point. I love the campus (which feels like a little city), the vibe and how safe it feels, and I really enjoy the research we do.
What aspect of your graduate program do you enjoy the most or are looking forward to with the greatest curiosity?

I really like working with a diverse group of professionals in my field (engineers, computer scientists, clinicians, business people, etc.) I enjoy the multi-perspective approach of working on problems. Also, I definitely enjoy being able to (having the freedom to) work on multiple things at the same time, which from what I understand, is a graduate student life luxury.

What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) in your future career?

The challenges coming up for me in the near future must be the post-graduation job hunting. Also, I have been a student for 22 years and the thought of a potential lifestyle shift overwhelms me sometimes!

How do you feel your program is preparing you for those challenges?

Conferences, networking events, paper reading clubs, courses, etc. definitely help.

What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

Curiosity, the urge to have an impact, the keenness to connect and collaborate with people, and work in diverse settings

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I have quite a few arts-and-craftsy hobbies. I make jewelry (earrings, etc.) I like to upcycle stuff around the house and paint/print pieces of clothing! I do yoga at home sometimes. I like to dance and swim, and I have a weak spot for Karaoke. When I am too stressed out, I have a few Netflix shows I like to watch over and over (and over) again!

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Balance is key. You need to pace yourself and figure out the right ratio of research/work, social life, hobbies, etc. for you.


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