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Biomedical Communications Alumni Association


With the end of the summer quickly approaching, the BMC Class of 2018 have been hard at work finishing up their Master’s Research Projects. As always, the soon-to-be graduates have produced a stunning array of projects this year, with several being awarded by the Vesalius Trust. Every year, the Vesalius Trust awards scholarships and research grants to students in health science visual communication studies based on scholastic achievement and research project merit. Here is the impressive line-up of BMC students who received a Vesalius Trust Award this year:

Joyce McGill Scholarship: Chelsea Canlas, Natividad Chen, and Patricia Nguyen

The Joyce McGill Scholarship is the second highest honour for excellence in research.

Inez Demonet Scholarship: Chelsea Canlas

The Inez Demonet Scholarship is the highest award given to a graduating student from an accredited graduate program in medical illustration.

Right to left: Patricia, Nati, and Chelsea

Project Title: Kinundrum: A Problem-based Learning Application for Undergraduate Kinesiology

Summary: Online learning applications are increasingly used to supplement anatomy education, but current resources tend to deal with structures in functional isolation or involve passive learning. For our MRP, we decided to create a web application that engages undergraduate kinesiology students in self-directed, problem-solving exercises based on common injury scenarios. A portmanteau of the words “kinesiology” and “conundrum”, Kinundrum presents a novel approach to anatomy learning. By combining problem-based learning (PBL) pedagogy with interactive illustrations, animations and 3D models, Kinundrum aims to foster a deeper, holistic understanding of anatomy.

About Natividad: Natividad Chen is a visual storyteller with a passion for science, 2D animation, and illustration. She graduated from Brown University with ScB in Marine Biology with Honours and from VanArts Institute with a 2D Character Animation Diploma with Honours. After working as a vertebrate biology research assistant , and then as an animator for a cartoon show, she decided to combine her love of science and art by pursuing her MSc in Biomedical Communications at the University of Toronto.

About Chelsea: Chelsea Canlas is a knowledge seeker and problem solver with a background in art, science and design. With a BDes from OCAD University, and professional experience designing exhibition graphics, she is now a proud student of the BMC program. She is passionate about designing experiences that inform and create meaningful communication between scientific and non-scientific audiences.

About Patricia: Patricia Nguyen is a huge science nerd. She loves teaching people about interesting scientific concepts through fun, engaging and compelling visuals. She especially loves sharing interesting facts about the human body seeing as she graduated with a BSc in Kinesiology from McMaster University. Patricia’s goal is to work in science education, whether it means making illustrations, comics, 3D models, or 2D animations.


Vesalius Trust Research Grant: Aileen Lin

Project Title: Perinatal Mental Health: Animations to educate pregnant and postpartum women about perinatal mental illness and treatment options

Summary: Mental health issues are common during the perinatal period, but in spite of their prevalence, many women with perinatal mental illness remain undiagnosed and untreated. A number of barriers prevent these women from seeking help. The most common barriers include a lack of knowledge about the conditions and their symptoms, and feelings of shame and stigma. I hope to address these barriers with my educational animations. These animations can help inform women who are undiagnosed, and encourage them to seek treatment. They can educate women who have already been diagnosed so they can be better informed and more involved in the decision-making process for treatment. Furthermore, women can share the material with family and friends, which will help their social support circles become more knowledgeable and more understanding about their condition. Results learned from creating this project can also be generalized to help inform the creation of sensitive and engaging educational material for similar audiences, such as women, mental health patients, new parents, or vulnerable populations.

The animation is chunked into 3 chapters, which can be watched as standalone animations or watched together. Chapter 1 gives a broad overview of perinatal mental illness and its symptoms; Chapter 2 explains the environmental, social, and biological factors that contribute to its development; and Chapter 3 discusses treatment options. After the completion of the project, the animations will be made available online on the Women’s College Hospital website, where they will be accessible for everyone to view.

About Aileen:

Aileen is passionate about taking difficult or complex ideas and making them approachable and easy to understand by visualizing them. In her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, she was drawn to the Cognitive Science program because of its interdisciplinary nature. From then on, she has loved working in interdisciplinary fields where she can synthesize information through looking at multiple perspectives. She had always wanted to pursue some sort of career in healthcare, and when she heard about the Biomedical Communications program at her university—as well as about the entire field of biomedical communications—the opportunity to use her art skills to communicate and educate about important ideas in science and medicine was exciting. It seemed like the perfect fit.

After graduating, what are you planning to do next?

After finishing my MRP, I’ll be doing an internship for the Medical Psychiatry Alliance initiative at Trillium Health Partners, where I’ll be helping to visualize a continuing education module about bridging the gap between physical and mental health care. I’m really excited to be doing more work on education in mental health care, and I hope to continue communicating for health care in the future as well!

What will you miss most about BMC?

The thing I’ll miss the most about BMC is getting to hang out with, be taught by, and be inspired by so many amazing people!


Vesalian Scholar: Amanda Miller

Project Title: Visual knowledge building and translation of volumetric radiographic imagery for dynamic 3D medical legal visualization

Summary: The 3D medical legal animation I created for my MRP is designed to support medical expert witness testimony and provide a judge and jury with an engaging, didactic, knowledge building experience to assist them in visualizing three-dimensionally, and enable understanding of the full extent of multiple traumatic brain injuries in a personal injury case. Advancements in medical imaging technology now allows for the use of 3D volumetric radiographs. Volumetric imaging provides more comprehensive information than 2D imaging (e.g. CT scans and MRIs), but is more complicated to interpret, especially for a non-medical audience. These radiographic images can be enormously challenging for a judge and jury to understand. Therefore, the purpose of this visual research project was to create and evaluate a demonstrative evidence presentation that incorporates volumetric radiographic imaging, combined with three-dimensional anatomical models and animated sequences to improve juror understanding of complex medical information. A design research study of the 3D medical legal animation was conducted with a mock jury, personal injury lawyers, and medical experts. The pre/post-test results from mock jurors demonstrated 44% knowledge improvement, from 33% on pretest to 77% on post-test.

About Amanda:

Amanda grew up in Minneapolis, MN with a love of both art and science. She enjoyed art because it made her feel like she had no limitations, giving her the freedom to express her thoughts and turn her ideas into beautiful paintings and drawings. She loved science because there were boundaries and rules and because she felt an extreme sense of accomplishment when she explored scientific principles in laboratory experiments and learned how things worked. Her passion for these different disciplines perplexed her at first, but this began to dissipate when she discovered Iowa State University’s Biological/Pre-Medical Illustration program. From the very start of her undergraduate career she knew this field was a perfect fit for her. She is finishing her last semester at the University of Toronto's Biomedical Communications graduate program where she loves being a visual storyteller and problem solver. She looks forward to pursuing a profession in this field, while continuing to learn new techniques and technologies.

After graduating, what are you planning to do next?

Upon graduation from the BMC program I will be moving to Naples, Florida where I will be working as a medical illustrator for a medical device company.

What will you miss most about BMC?

I will miss my classmates and professors and I have really appreciated their support and feedback during my time in Canada. I hope they visit me when the Toronto winters become too cold!


After a long year of working on their MRPs, the Class of 1T8 deserves a huge congratulations on their achievements this year. Keep up the great work!

Avesta Rastan

BMCAA First Year Representative

#Vesalius #Award #BMCAA #MRP #AMI

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