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After graduating summa cum laude in May, Volkan Oktem ’04 (Minsk, Belarus) gave a presentation at a national conference on his work using digital signals to detect malignant breast cancer tumors and differentiate between malignant and benign tumors.

Earning honors in electronic and computer engineering through the yearlong research project, Oktem shared his findings at the Computer Assisted Radiology and Surgery conference held June 23-26 in Chicago. His paper, “Automatic Detection of Malignant Tumors,” was published in the conference proceedings.

His mentor, Ismail Jouny, professor and head of electric and computer engineering, will present Oktem’s work at the 26th annual international conference of the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers’ (IEEE) Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, which will be held Sept. 1-5 in San Francisco. A paper based on Oktem’s research will be published in that conference’s proceedings as well.

“Detection of malignant tumors at an early stage is an important first step in diagnosis of the cancerous regions in breasts,” says Oktem. “Although many detection schemes have been presented, they are still not adequate to safely eliminate all risks.”

In addition, interpreting mammograms can be difficult because images appear differently due to variations in size, texture, density, and tissue content, according to Oktem. Breast implants impede mammogram readings because silicone can block clear views of the tissue behind it.

In his research, Oktem used a set of 80 normal, 80 benign, and 80 malignant mammograms from the digital archives of the University of South Florida. His tests of various technologies suggested that some are unlikely to be useful, while others yielded sufficiently accurate detection to warrant further study as promising solutions.

The faculty committee that judged his thesis was comprised of Jouny; Yih-Choung Yu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Derek Smith, assistant professor of mathematics.

Oktem is grateful for the support, particularly the time that Jouny devoted to helping him undertake the project.

“He assisted me on a continual basis, provided me with invaluable advice, gave me guidance, and supported my work throughout the year,” he says. “I would also like to thank the other faculty members in the electrical and computer engineering department for being there to help me when I needed their help.”

In earlier research as an EXCEL Scholar with John Nestor, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, Oktem helped create an Internet-based system to test integrated circuit designs. He also conducted EXCEL research with Kim Bennett, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, to improve a system used to measure movement between parallel surfaces.

A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Oktem also earned an A.B. in economics and business. He received the Lawrence J. Conover ’24 Electrical Engineering Prize, presented each year to an outstanding senior in electrical engineering. Oktem was a member of the student IEEE chapter, Lafayette Activities Forum, and the French, soccer, and tennis clubs. He was a resident adviser in Keefe Hall and belonged to International Students Association, holding positions as president and sports coordinator. He tied for first place in the Individual Barge Mathematics Competition.

He graduated from Bilkent University Preparatory School in Ankara, Turkey.

Categorized in: Academic News