Two students win research grants from Vesalius Trust

By Kristen Holland Shear

Two UT Southwestern biomedical communications students have won research grants from the Vesalius Trust for Visual Communication in the Health Sciences, a professional group that supports education and research in this field.

Second-year students Laura Sesto and Derek Wu were among 15 recipients selected nationwide.

Each received a $500 research grant based on their thesis projects — Ms. Sesto for “A Patient Education Module for Transtibial Amputees Including an Interactive Video and Booklet” and Mr. Wu for “Photosynthesis: A Science Suitcase for Ninth Graders.” Biomedical communications is a program offered at UT Southwestern School of Health Professions.

Ms. Sesto’s project consists of a booklet and DVD that shows transtibial amputees how to put on, take off and care for their prosthesis. Transtibial amputation is an amputation between the foot and the knee.

“The purpose is to help patients adapt to their new prosthesis in the early stages of their rehabilitation,” said Ms. Sesto, who developed materials in both English and Spanish.

Lewis Calver, chairman of biomedical communications, said Ms. Sesto’s ties to the military have served her well.  

“Being from a military family, Laura was well aware of the increased number of amputees returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and wanted to do a thesis project that would be helpful to them,” Mr. Calver said. “She visited the Center for the Intrepid, the rehabilitation center for amputees and burn victims at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, and identified a critical need for updated patient education.”

Mr. Wu’s project — the third of six science suitcases produced for the annual STARS Science Triathlon – consists of an animation that covers the basics of photosynthesis, flash interactive module with games focusing on specific aspects of photosynthesis, and a hands-on module. The suitcase is designed for ninth- and 10th-grade biology classes.

“The goal of the suitcase is to help teach the basic concepts of photosynthesis to a pre-AP science class and hopefully to encourage students to take more interest in science,” said Mr. Wu.

Mr. Calver said it surprised no one when Mr. Wu chose the daunting task of explaining such a complicated process to high school students. “He has excelled in challenging himself with difficult projects throughout his two years here, and this thesis is no exception,” Mr. Calver said.