It has been a great experience to have the unique opportunity as an undergraduate here at Fairfield to do research in cancer detection. I know that I am helping to make a difference in the world.
Bianca De Angelo ’12
Hometown: Warwick, R.I.
Programs: Physics; double-minor in mathematics and mechanical engineering
Honors: Member of SIGMA XI Research Society; Founder, Fairfield Special Olympics Club
Aspiration: To work within space exploration as either an astrophysicist or an aerospace engineer.
How did you come to be interested in physics?
Fairfield was my first choice college due to its excellent physics department, with many accomplished professors. Ever since the fourth grade when we learned about the planets and stars in my science class, I’ve known what I wanted to study. I even remember telling my family they would one day see me on television taking flight in a space shuttle! Since then, my interest in space has only increased — which ultimately led me to a major in physics. My family has always been very supportive of my decisions. I am the first one in my family to attend college, and I know they are proud of my accomplishments and my drive to pursue a career in physics and engineering. I have two younger siblings with special needs, and although there have been challenging times in my life, they are my world and I am working on not only improving my future, but theirs as well. I am aware that I will be their provider later in life, so I am already working now on not only following my goal of working within space exploration, but also establishing a basis for all of our futures.
How has your Fairfield experience been?
I have made many new friends from all over the country here at the University. The school holds a number of various activities every weekend so there is always something to do. Also, the university has many clubs which I have taken great advantage of, and it’s been a great way to meet new people. I have made many new friends and have learned more than I had anticipated.
What have you been involved in at Fairfield?
The research I have been involved with deals with biomedical engineering with a focus on biomedical optics. It encompasses the laser detection of cancer by use of a physical factor called the refractive index. Our end goal is to be able to utilize a light source at the base of an endoscope so that cancer detection can be made possible right in the doctor’s office without the need for a biopsy. From my research experience, I have learned not only about the topic itself, but also how to properly conduct research, its ethics, and how to give a professional scientific presentation. Dr. Min Xu is an excellent mentor, and I do feel I have learned a great deal from his guidance over the last 3 years. Along with other students, we have already written and published 3 papers on the project! I also believe that my research experience will help my prospects after graduation. Besides research, my other major involvement at Fairfield has been the Fairfield Special Olympics Club in its entirety. Receiving the acceptance letter to start the Club at the end of my freshman year was one of my best moments at Fairfield. We focus on creating awareness and raising funds within the University and surrounding community. I am very pleased with the progress the Club has made over the last two years — it has really grown since its start. It’s been very fulfilling. During its second year, we were already recognized as “Club of the Year”!
What other experiences have been valuable to you at Fairfield?
Through Campus Ministry, I was able to travel twice to Quito, Ecuador, for 10-day service immersion trips — first as a team member in my sophomore year, then as a student leader in my junior year. My mom is from Quito, and being half-Ecuadorian myself I felt a strong desire to go to the country and help the people there. I did not know what to expect on my journeys, but I would not change my experiences for anything in the world! The city has touched my heart in more ways than I could have ever imagined and I am very thankful for the experiences. The people there are so genuine; I don’t see how anyone could not fall in love with the country. My time and experiences here at Fairfield thusfar have already given me so many wonderful opportunities and a better outlook on life. My education here has shown me that no matter how many things you may have going on in your life at any given moment, you can always achieve all that you set out to accomplish. It doesn’t matter how many classes or meetings you need to attend on a given day — if you have a drive to succeed, you can always find time to set out and attain what your heart most desires.
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