OPTIMAX Summer School

By Aug.12, 2016

By Rob Thompson, University College London

Now in its fourth year of running is the well-regarded three-week summer school, OPTIMAX. It comprises of team-based research to investigate real world research questions within medical imaging, giving students from all over the world the chance to try their hand at research with hands-on expert support throughout. The students and tutors come with completely varying professional backgrounds, including Computer Science, Physics, Medicine, Radiography, Occupational Therapy and Engineering.

This year we have 59 participants, coming from Brazil, South Africa, Iraq, Portugal, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, The UK, The Netherlands, Vietnam and Sweden. This year, OPTIMAX is being held in the University of Salford, but it has also been in Lisbon and Groningen. Below are the thoughts of some of this year’s participants on their time at the summer school.

Flavio Augusto Soares, Instituto Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil, Hydrology Technologist/Lecturer

What has been your experience of OPTIMAX?

“This is my first time at OPTIMAX. It’s very, very good and I’m learning a lot. Being in another country, away from my home and workplace, makes me feel very immersed in what I’m doing. I don’t have to think about bills, answer the phone, or do anything else that would usually distract me from my research. I’m taking all I encounter into account and will use it to change my own methodology when I return to Brazil. Everyday at OPTIMAX, I learn something new.”

Has OPTIMAX changed your outlook on your discipline? How?

“Well, I hope to use the methodologies we’re using here in my own discipline back home. I will also pass on many of the tips I’ve gathered onto my colleagues and students. Some of the software we’re using I’ve never heard of before, and I will use this in Brazil to change my research. My colleague and I are even planning to hold our own small summer school to pass on the lessons we’ve learnt here.

Has OPTIMAX had an impact on your plans for future research?

“Besides coming to renovate my own research methods, I also came to make research partnerships. I’m now in discussion with José Jorge of Switzerland, and am also making my own measurements here in Salford University with Peter Hogg and Andrew Tootle.”

What has been the most useful thing you’ll take away from OPTIMAX?

“I think the cultural exposure. The way in which people work and think. Even here in England, things are a little different. I’m accustomed to the American way of living, and this allows me to see the world in a another way.  Simple differences in the way people do reflect on the way in which they research.”

Based on your experience, would you come again?

“Fingers crossed they want me back!”


Sophie Hughan, City University London, UK, Undergraduate Diagnostic Radiography

Sophie Hughan,
City University London,
UK,
Undergraduate Diagnostic Radiography

What has been your experience of OPTIMAX?

It’s been really good. We’ve all come together from different countries to do something collaborative whilst also having fun.”

Has OPTIMAX changed your outlook on your discipline? How?

“It has, it’s shown me that there are many different areas aside from taking images, there’s a lot of medical physics. There are a lot of people here who may be doing clinical work, but still have links to radiography.”

Has OPTIMAX had an impact on your plans for future research?

“It’s given me some experience doing research, which I can use as a foundation to progress with further into the future. It’s confirmed my aspiration to become a researcher in the field.”

What has been the most useful thing you’ll take away from OPTIMAX?

“I’d probably say it’s all the people, or rather friends, I’ve met over the past week. They’re all people I hope to keep in contact with throughout my life and career.”

Based on your experience, would you come again?

“Yes. I hope that more people will hear about this in the coming years, especially in London, because it’s a brilliant course.”

Photograph of OPTIMAX student, Lily Peters

Lily Peters, Central University of Technology, Bloemfontein, South Africa, 3rd Year, Diagnostic Radiography.

What has been your experience of OPTIMAX?

“I actually dreamt about this yesterday, I’m not going to lie. I’m so encouraged to study more by the people around me. It’s so inspiring. I’ve honestly learnt a lot that I’m going to take home and  apply to my own studies and teach others about.”

Has OPTIMAX changed your outlook on your discipline? How?

“Most definitely. I intend on actually bettering myself as a radiography and as a person as a result of OPTIMAX. I now see that the world is so big, as is radiography. I basically feel I can be whatever I want, wherever I want. It has opened another world for me, I mean, wow.”

Has OPTIMAX had an impact on your plans for future research?

“Yes. My group leader sent me an email about a yearly conference in Vienna, and I told him, “you know what? I’d really love to get involved with this”. Before this, I was not really interested in research, but seeing the extremes people go to in order to complete their research has really inspired me. It’s something that could benefit not only me but my community as well. Everything that I learn in OPTIMAX and subsequent conferences I can take back home and educate others.”

What has been the most useful thing you’ll take away from OPTIMAX?

“The inspiration I’ve gained from the researchers I’ve met. To see the amount of articles they’ve written, and to learn how they’ve written them has been amazing. Everything I’ve observed from their work I can use and refer back to in the future.”

Based on your experience, would you come again?

“Definitely! I want to stay here. This should be a whole year’s course. I’ll absolutely recommend this to people back in South Africa.”

Photo of Anne Ellerman

Anne Ellerman,
Hanze University,
The Netherlands,
2nd Year, MIRT

What has been your experience of OPTIMAX?

“Positive! It’s been really nice to meet people from all over Europe and the world. Our research is smooth so far, so that’s great. And I really like Manchester.”

Has OPTIMAX changed your outlook on your discipline? How?

“I think it has, because it’s sparked my interest in research. At first, I thought I was just interested in clinical practice, but now I think I’d like to do some research too.”

Has OPTIMAX had an impact on your plans for future research?

“I’ve always been interested in research, but stopped doing it when I left my last course. OPTIMAX has encouraged me to get back on it, using the same methodologies I’ve learnt here, and studying the same subject matters.”

What has been the most useful thing you’ll take away from OPTIMAX?

“Learning to work with teams of people that you don’t really know, people who are complete strangers to you. There’s also a language barrier between us, so it’s inevitable to run into some ‘bumps’. We’ve had to learnt how to navigate these problems without causing tension.”

Based on your experience, would you come again?

“Yes, definitely.”

Photograph of OPTIMAX studnent Mathilde Widmen

Mathilde Widmer,
HESAV,
Switzerland,
2nd Year

What has been your experience of OPTIMAX?

“It’s been really good and resourceful, especially in the organisation and research skills it’s given me for the rest of my degree course. It’s been great to meet people in the same profession with whom I can discuss and learn from.”

Has OPTIMAX changed your outlook on your discipline? How?

“Research is not the most important focus in my university, and so before coming here I hadn’t considered doing it later in life. However, I have now decided I would like to help develop research in Switzerland on similar topics as the ones covered Optimax.”

Has OPTIMAX had an impact on your plans for future research?

“I was actually planning to spend a few weeks in clinical practice rather than coming to Optimax, which I’m so glad I did not do. Optimax has changed my whole career path from having no plans for future research, to having numerous plans for future research.”

What has been the most useful thing you’ll take away from OPTIMAX?

“There are so many things! From personal organisation to group organisation; the countless things I’ve learnt from the other students; and of course the softwares we used, two of which I’ve never heard of before and will definitely be using regularly from now on.”

Based on your experience, would you come again?

“Of course.”

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *