Ph.D. Student Awarded Link Foundation Fellowship

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Mar 12, 1997) — 

Leslie Hiemenz, a doctoral candidate in Biomedical Engineering, was honored with the 1996-97 Link Foundation Fellowship in Advanced Simulation and Training.

Hiemenz, who received her bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering from Ohio State in 1991 and 1995, respectively, received the award for her work on a virtual reality application that simulates administering an epidural anesthesia. Hiemenz worked with Dr. John McDonald of the Ohio State University Medical Center and Don Stredney of the Ohio Supercomputer Center on the project, which is helping to revolutionize medical training. The team used physiological data, such as testing the insertion of an 18 gauge needle into the main tissue types of the spinal region, to create a realistic model of an epidural simulator.

They also established criteria that can be used to create future needle insertion simulation systems. The Link Foundation honors graduate students each year who are studying simulation training and research, and are enhancing the theoretical and practical knowledge of how to train users of complex systems. The award also recognizes Hiemenz's work in simulating real-world environments.

The Link Foundation was established in 1953 by Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Link. The Link Trainer invented by Edwin Link in 1929 was the first successful flight simulator.

"Dr. McDonald, Don Stredney and my adviser, Alan Litsky of the Biomedical Engineering Center, have been very supportive of my work," Hiemenz said. "But to have a renown foundation believe in my work to the extent of funding me for a year, has really boosted my confidence in my research and the impact it can make on medical training."

Hiemenz was awarded $18,000 to allow her to focus full-time on her dissertation research which involves biomaterials testing. This testing will allow her to measure the forces required to insert an epidural needle.

"The results of the tests, along with data from Magnetic Resonance Imanging (MRI) of the same materials will be used to create force models for a virtual reality simulator of the epidural anesthesiology procedure," she said.

After graduating in Spring 1998, Hiemenz hopes to find a position where she will be able to continue her research in virtual reality medical applications, specifically those dealing with haptic-feedback issues.

The Ohio Supercomputer Center is a state-funded resource serving Ohio's higher education community. The Center facilitates discoveries that enhance Ohio's economic development and supports statewide technological advancement and education. OSC's networking initiative provides Internet access to faculty, staff and students at Ohio's colleges and universities, state government agencies in Ohio and Kentucky, as well as many K-12 schools.