Dr. Steven Allen, PhD, described his undergraduate self as a bog-standard student with a fairly unremarkable track record, but the research professor - who joins the department faculty this fall - has built himself a considerably remarkable track record over the past ten years. He holds two degrees and ever-growing expertise in MRI technology and biomedical engineering.
Allen began his engineering career as a Physics major at Brigham Young University. A lifelong science enthusiast, he knew he wanted to study the sciences professionally when he kept enjoying his classes even after they became extremely challenging. In his junior year, his fascination with physics, medicine, and the challenges that arose with their combination led him to the field of medical imaging, which he has advanced ever since.
His ultimate vision? Generating technology that lowers the costs and side effects of difficult medical treatments. It began to materialize when he went to graduate school at the University of Michigan, where he earned his PhD developing techniques to guide an all-new type of ultrasound surgery. He continued his work at the University of Virginia as a postdoctoral research scientist, focusing on diffusion-weighted MRI guidance for focused ultrasound thalamotomy, MR hardware development, and deblurring techniques for spiral acquisitions.
When he arrives this semester, Dr. Allen will administer the MRI facility on campus. In addition to his own research on using MRI and ultrasound simultaneously as a non-invasive surgical method, he will help faculty across disciplines use the facility for their own projects. He cannot wait. The position encompasses everything that drew him back to BYU in the first place: a culture of collaboration and cross-disciplinary work, a drive to produce quality scientific work, and fascinating, challenging research projects.
Despite two degrees, years of research in fields most people can’t say five times fast, and an MRI facility under his administration, the most rewarding moment of Dr. Allen’s career happened in a practical circuits course he taught. The course required manual manipulation of breadboard, wires and other components, and one of his students had no hands. Her handicap failed to crush her spirits or her GPA. In Dr. Allen’s words, “she tackled the class with a level of drive, courage, and determination that still awes me. In fact, she finished her practical exam faster than the majority of the other students in the class. She stands in my memory as a testament of what determined people can accomplish.”
The career-long enthusiasm Dr. Allen has demonstrated for challenges - from rigorous undergraduate courses to the research frontiers of non-invasive surgeries - reflects a similar drive. It has made the world a better place, and it shows us all that even if we feel “bog-standard”, our potential is only limited by our determination.