From Miami to MIT and Harvard

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Notre Dame alum begins special collaborative program sponsored by both Harvard and MIT.

Connor Verheyen, a 2013 graduate of Notre Dame, finished up his undergrad last year at the University of Miami and earned a degree in biomedical engineering. Now his sights are set on a PhD as he begins the Medical Engineering and Medical Physics (MEMP) program, a five- to seven-year course of study that leads to a PhD awarded by either MIT or by the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

"The Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST) is a unique collaboration that brings together the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals, and local research centers to integrate science, medicine and engineering to solve problems in human health," said Verheyen, who moved in at MIT in late August.

He said the program trains students as engineers or physical scientists who also have extensive knowledge of the medical sciences. 

"By understanding engineering and physical science applications, as well as their specific clinical implications, graduates of this program usually are well-positioned to define new questions and formulate novel approaches in biomedical research," he said. "Right now I'm splitting my time between graduate engineering courses at MIT and clinical courses at Harvard Medical School while also working to identify potential labs where I'd like to conduct my PhD thesis research."

Sounds like quite a busy schedule for Verheyen, who doesn't at all appear phased by a little extra work. In fact, as he was finishing up his undergrad at Miami, he recently completed a nearly year-long program in Switzerland working on tissue engineering. 

"I was lucky enough to have been awarded a Whitaker International Fellowship to conduct a year-long research project at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland," he said. "There I worked with a small team of European collaborators to develop an injectable biomaterial for therapeutic tissue regeneration. My specific contributions were in the realms of materials science and soft-matter physics."

Verheyen said it wasn't all work, all the time, though. 

"Outside of the lab, I did spend a fair amount of time hiking in the Swiss Alps," he said. "It is incredibly beautiful there."

Meanwhile, Verheyen, who at Notre Dame Prep was part of the 2013 NDP valedictory court and a member of the school's Environmental Club, National Honor Society, Retreat Commission and served as an NDP student ambassador, said he likely wouldn't be where he is today academically if it wasn't for his high school.

“Notre Dame definitely strengthened my time-management skills while cultivating an interest in many different, seemingly unrelated fields and classes,” he said. “Research takes time and dedication, so the ability to manage my limited time has helped me tremendously. Additionally, a biomedical engineer must have an interest and proficiency in multiple and disparate fields. My Notre Dame experience prepared me very well for that type of thinking.”


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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org

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