Meet Dylan Beam: Biological Engineering Major and Undergraduate Researcher

Jan. 28, 2019
When not working on his research in the lab, Dylan is a big fan of the outdoors.

Growing up in Newberg, Oregon, Dylan wouldn’t be surprised if the saying, “there are more trees than people in the state” rang true.

Fortunately for Dylan, he has always had an innate love for the outdoors. To this day, every time he visits home, he goes on some type of adventure in the open air, whether it be camping, hiking, or just going out to the coast.

While not exploring the outdoors, Dylan can be found either drumming or watching sports. He particularly loves jazz, and if you asked any of his friends, they’d tell you he’s always tapping. Back in high school, he played lacrosse. He carries his love of sports over to college as he cheers on the Ohio State football team, which makes for one of the reasons why Ohio State University was one of his top choices of universities.

Ohio State’s football team isn’t the only reason why Dylan admires this university. He also loves the sense of belonging and friendliness that he feels upon stepping onto campus.

Dylan recalls sitting in front of the Ohio Stadium on one windy day during a college visit. Coming from Oregon, he was not used to the drastic breezes found in Ohio. He was not prepared for when all his papers blew and scattered all over the place. Dylan could never forget how grateful he was when three students whom he had never interacted with came to help him with his belongings.

“It feels more like home. I appreciate the sense of community,” he says.

Another reason for his choice of Ohio State was that its courses fulfilled his needs. He could have attended Oregon State University, but their biological engineering program focused more on pharmaceuticals, which did not match his interests.  

Dylan BeamDylan is currently enrolled in the FABE department. From the beginning he knew he wanted to be an engineer. His only question was “what kind?” He considered mechanical at first but did not feel it was right. He wanted a more humanitarian pursuit.

“I wanted to help people more and see the impact that I make on their lives,” he says.

With the goal of working with neural prostheses in the future, Dylan planned to pre-major in biomedical engineering. However, he eventually found that FABE was the best fit for him.

“I knew without a doubt the FABE curriculum would best serve my needs and interests! FABE allows great flexibility in their curriculum with a lot of technical electives and advanced biology elective courses. This has allowed me to take all of the neuroscience courses I want to take, without taking any additional courses outside of the curriculum,” Dylan explains. 

After specializing in biological engineering for his bachelor’s, Dylan plans to pursue a PhD in biomedical engineering someday. He plans to eventually work on research and development for neuroprosthetics for his career.

His interest in neural prosthetics stems from his junior year of high school, when he saw a video about the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. This passion carried into his college career. 

During his first year at Ohio State, Dylan learned about Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU). REUs are federally funded research internships, and through this program he was exposed to his first research opportunity.

Dylan worked his first internship at the University of Texas the summer after his freshman year. He designed and manufactured a low-cost, 3D-printed laser speckle contrast imaging (LSCI) system that can be used for imaging brains. Through this, resources became available for students who are interested in performing experiments but did not have access to expensive optical equipment. 

Currently, Dylan is working for Dr. Vibhor Krishna at the Center for Neuromodulation in the Wexner Medical Center. His current research entails the taking of images of patients' brains and skulls with Parkinson's and trying to predict surgical outcomes based on their anatomies.

Dylan’s first project upon working with Dr. Krishna was about focused ultrasound surgery (FUS). They analyzed the treatment of the symptoms of Parkinson’s and essential tremors and studied skull characteristics to better predict which patients were good or bad for the treatment. He presented this research at Denman Undergraduate Research Conference last spring and at the International Symposium on Focused Ultrasound in Virginia in October. Dylan was also able to collaborate with Dr. Krishna, Francesco Sammartino, and Dr. Johns Snell from the Focused Ultrasound Foundation to write a paper about his research, which was accepted by the Journal of Neurosurgery to be published. 

For Dylan’s more recent project, he is concentrated on deep brain stimulation. Patients with Parkinson's and essential tremors are implanted with a lead in the brain toprovide electrical stimulation, creating a “volume of tissue activation” (VTA). The VTAs are modeled and studied to improve manifestations of these disorders.  This is an open-ended project, and he is currently writing his senior thesis on it.

There are a few places that offer research in his area and Dylan is grateful for all the opportunities he has been given through Ohio State.

“You get to travel and go to conferences, meet a lot of different people doing a lot of different research,” he said.

His advice for those who want to follow his path:

“If you do research, try to go to conferences and present your research. The sooner you can get presentations out, the better.”

He wants students to know that although the Ohio State campus may seem intimidating, there are so many areas to present and resources to utilize.

Dylan's research on Parkinson's

 

By Helena Nguyen, FABE Student Communications Assistant