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Faculty & Staff Spotlights

'If you have initiative and want to work in this environment, you're really allowed to bloom'

August 20, 2013

The cross-disciplinary collaborations that happen every day at IUPUI create the perfect environment for researchers with diverse research interests.

Giovanna Guidoboni, an IUPUI associate professor of mathematics with a background in engineering and physics, uses applied mathematics and models to solve real-world problems with bio-medical applications. Near her office in the Department of Mathematical Science in the School of Science are scholars in science, engineering and medicine who value the insights that math modeling provides their discipline.

Giovanna Guidoboni

Giovanna Guidoboni monitors an ultrasound machine that Alon Harris, director of clinical research in the Department of Ophthalmology, is using to test the process on a graduate student. | Photo By School of Science

"I'm really excited about the possibilities here at IUPUI," she said. "This campus, and everything it has to offer, is really just right for me because I’m able to explore ideas I may not be able to do at other institutions."

Her current research with the Department of Ophthalmology at the IU School of Medicine involves building a complex mathematical model to measure factors like blood flow, pressure and oxygen levels in the eye.

When treating diseases such as glaucoma and diabetes, doctors often can’t accurately analyze the interaction of risk factors with current technology, but a modeling method could enhance results and allow for specific treatment methods based on individual patient characteristics.

"Math offers you the opportunity to create a sort of 'virtual lab' in which the behavior of a complex system can be simulated under a multitude of conditions at a relatively low cost," Guidoboni said. "A first step toward addressing many issues in medicine, for example, could be to translate it into a mathematical problem you need to solve. You can continue to add data and feedback into the model and continue this cycle of improving results."

Modeling can have significant applications in medical issues involving complex organs such as the brain, the heart and kidneys, allowing researchers to "apply the model to a problem and see the bottom line," she said.

Guidoboni serves as co-director of the School of Science Institute for Mathematical Modeling and Computational Science, a cross-departmental research group devoted to integrating mathematical and computational approaches to address problems in science, engineering and medicine. The group was launched in January 2012.

She has been studying mathematical applications involving blood flow since 2004, when she was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Houston, where she collaborated with heart surgeons. Before that, she was a Marie Curie fellow at the University of Surrey in England. She earned her master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Ferrara in her homeland of Italy.

Guidoboni came to Indianapolis in 2009. She has found that IUPUI and its relationship with nearby research and medical facilities make "collaboration really easy because everyone is so open-minded."

"I've found that your education and research here is what you make it," she said. "If you have initiative and want to work in this environment, you’re really allowed to bloom. People truly value what you have to give."

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