Luke Polson

Luke Polson's image
Enhancement and quantification in nuclear medicine imaging using artificial intelligence
Arman Rahmim
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

After the third summer of my undergraduate degree, I was privileged to take part in the CERN summer student research program in Geneva, Switzerland. It was here that I fell in love with the prospect of doing research as a career. After completing my MSc in particle physics, where I used artificial intelligence to measure the energy of detected particles in the ATLAS experiment at CERN, I decided that I wanted to change things up and apply these techniques for image enhancement in medical imaging. UBC had the perfect research group for me to start this journey.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

When applying to PhD programs, I knew that I wanted to engage in research that applied artificial intelligence in the medical imaging world. It was while exploring various options that I discovered my (now) current research group, Qurit, here at UBC. Their strong presence in the world of nuclear medicine research led me to reach out to their esteemed leader, Arman Rahmim, so I could attempt to secure myself a research position. Needless to say, it must have worked. Oh, and I'd be lying if I didn't mention that the prospect of beaches, mountains, hiking, skiing, kayaking, and general west coast vibe here in Vancouver influenced my decision as well.

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

When studying medical physics at a graduate level at UBC, one has the option to take all the courses required to obtain CAMPEP certification. This credential enables one to apply to clinical medical physics residency programs, which eventually leads to one becoming a practicing clinical medical physicist. Since these jobs are secure, well-paying, and would allow for me to engage in research post-graduation, I decided to pursue this avenue.

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

Vancouver has this peculiar quality where it feels like a quiet walk in nature is always nearby (such as a park/beach/mountain), but that it's also busy enough to provide you with endless choices of food/entertainment. As someone who spends most of my non-work leisure time either outdoors or eating, this was certainly a pleasant surprise.

UBC's strong presence in the world of nuclear medicine research led me to reach out to their esteemed research group, Qurit team leader.
What aspects of your life or career before now have best prepared you for your UBC graduate program?

I'll be honest, life as a graduate student is not always easy. But that's also what makes it so worth it. In terms of work ethic, what prepared me best for this program was definitely my undergraduate degree physics. But research is more than just work ethic; research also requires a sort of unrelenting curiosity combined with a constant attitude of skepticism. Thankfully, this is something that anyone can prepare for: don't be afraid to try new things, and don't be afraid to ask questions.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

I like biking, hiking, skiing, and going to the gym! I also have a youtube channel where I make physics/coding tutorials. (Shameless Plug): Do me a favour subscribe here.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

Probably the most jarring thing you'll experience coming out of a course-based undergraduate degree and moving into a research-based graduate degree is when you initially start research. Unlike with most assignments/projects due for courses, there's not always a clear path for what *should* be done. That's fine. It will come with time, just be patient. Oh, and get ready for thesis writing time: that's certainly one heck of a ride (I'd start by making your coffee twice as strong).


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