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Impact Award, Spring 2024

Grace Billingsley

Grace Billingsley’s service-oriented view of biomedical engineering gives her the opportunity to improve people’s lives. 

Billingsley wanted to pursue a career where she could “work with people, to help them directly, and have the opportunity to see how my work could improve the lives of others.”

That goal led Billingsley to study biomedical engineering at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. She was also a student in Barrett, The Honors College.

“It’s pretty rewarding to be involved in projects that result in someone from the biomedical industry talking to you and saying, “The product that you designed will save lives,” Billingsley says.

During her time at ASU, Billingsley was an officer of Barrett Sustainability Club, a tutor in the Fulton Schools Tutoring Center, and a community assistant with residential life. Additionally, she participated in Devils 4 Devils, Keep Tempe Beautiful, Arizona Habitat for Humanity, and the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Foundation

Billingsley appreciates Andreas Spanias, a professor of electrical engineering and director of ASU’s Sensor Signal and Information Processing Center, or SenSIP, who gave her insight into engineering research. 

“I’ve worked with SenSIP at ASU in an international undergraduate research program during which I traveled to Dublin, Ireland, and studied machine learning for medical applications at Dublin City University,” Billingsley says. “We created a neural network that could be used to identify brain tumors from MRI images, and it resulted in a first-author publication with IEEE Xplore.”

Billingsley had the opportunity to travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and present the published paper at the International IEEE ICIP Conference in 2023.

“The ASU -DCU IRES program was both my first ever time traveling abroad as well as my first research experience,” Billingsley says. “I don’t think I would have ever considered professionally pursuing graduate school or research in any capacity, and now I’m seriously looking into the possibility of an MD-PhD.”

Billingsley credits her honors thesis directors Dr. Denis Cortese and Robert Smoldt with helping her grow and discover the health care and medicine side of biomedical engineering. Both professors’ connections and experiences primed Billingsley to understand a larger perspective on the role of health care professionals and ensuring the wellbeing of the entire population.

“Engineering is challenging, and I’m constantly learning new things and new ways to apply old knowledge,” Billingsley says. “Biomedical engineering has also given me a very different perspective into some of the ways that engineers can be involved in improving health care outcomes, which is a cause close to my heart.”

Read about other exceptional graduates of the Fulton Schools’ spring 2024 class here.

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