Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Parker Ruth

Mary Gates Research Scholar, Autumn 2019

Research Project: Ubiquitous Cardiovascular Health Sensing

Project Description: My research focuses on applying engineering and computing principles to improve access to healthcare. I prototype mobile applications and wearable sensors to help people monitor their health and diagnose diseases. Some of my current research examines the use of mobile devices and wearables to measure metrics of cardiovascular health, including blood pressure, pulse wave velocity, and arterial stiffness. I believe existing and emerging smart devices have the potential to improve the accessibility of monitoring, screening, and diagnosis by repurposing ubiquitously available electronic components for health sensing applications.

What have you learned throughout your research project?

In addition to building technical skills in embedded systems, signal processing, and machine learning, research has also given me intangible skills. While mentoring two undergraduates and two high school interns, I found great satisfaction in supporting their future successes. Some of my most rewarding experiences have come from working directly with people I aim to serve. Meeting nursing home residents who volunteered to test my technologies, and working closely alongside people with cardiovascular dysregulation conditions gave me greater empathy for the needs of my target users. Connecting with people through my research keeps me grounded and reminds me that technology is only part of the solution alongside social, economic, and cultural factors. These experiences have encouraged me to pursue a PhD and eventually a tenured faculty position where I can continue making an impact through research, teaching, and mentoring.

What piece of advice do you have for future applicants?

To any students considering getting involved in research or leadership activities at UW, I would strongly recommend applying for Mary Gates scholarships. The support of a Mary Gates scholarship is both personally validating and a valuable opportunity to connect with other students making the most of their undergraduate experiences.