Student Researcher Interview with Vinoth Bandara

Interviewer: Benjamin Kerner

Interviewed: Vinoth Bandara

B: So, to start, state your name, major, and department.

V: I’m Vinoth Bandara, I work for the BME department and I am a BME major. I’m an imaging specialist, and I do a lot of optics work

B: So how did you get into research?

V: I got into research my freshman year through my freshman year BME 100 project.  I worked on blood glucose meters that were not invasive. We were trying to figure out a creative way to make a non-invasive blood glucose meter and we came up with an infrared version of a blood glucose meter, which ended up winning a prize and we went to international competitions, so that got me into research.

B:  Did anything inspire you to get into research before or was it that event that inspired you?

V: No, I always wanted to make something new, but I initially thought research was just working with cells and cultures in labs and stuff like that.  Then I realized you can do much more stuff with electronics in comparison to research.  

B: So how long have you been in your lab now?

V: Since freshman year, so about three years.

B: Oh right, you said that before… do you have any posters, publications, and that kind of thing?

V: I have one publication on how major optics work on diffracted lasers and miniature versions of current existing objects.  I’m currently working on one right now that uses more complicated SLM modulation to do imaging.  

B: I know this is a tad redundant now, but what do your lab specifically study?

V: We study any kind of optics based research.  How to improve view, how to improve time resolution and spatial resolution.  Or how to image from a distance in a more efficient way.

B: So, then what’s your favorite part of research?

V: Failing a lot.  Also, I have a good lab environment where you’re allowed to fail a lot, I guess. So, you end up learning a lot from your failures.  

B: So, your favorite part is failing?

V: Yeah! More than making anything because you end up learning a lot, especially where I am at right now.  As a student and as a person who’s still learning a lot, failing’s good.

B: So, is there anything that is your favorite about your specific department?

V: A favorite thing of my specific department?

B: Yeah. Anything that your department does that you potentially appreciate and can’t get elsewhere.

V: I mean, for research they’re pretty good, because they really focus on that and it’s a great experience because you know all the people, the professors.  Everybody is really helpful because BME, especially BME, is research based.  You have to have an encouragement towards it.  Just like CME also.  

B; I see, so will research fit into your eventual career goal?

V: Yes, I eventually want to refine products for a company so, like quality control, so having research under my belt is pretty good, because it tells me a lot about the design process and stuff like that.

B: Alright so lastly, do you have any advice to other undergraduates looking to get into research?

V: So, what’s always a common mistake is you always wait to ask somebody to get research.  Or you wait until you actually join a lab to start research.  I say start research before that, like you can personally start research.  You like electronics? Build something useless using electronics.  Like my first thing I ever built was, I built an electronic device that every time I flushed my toilet I got a text message.  It was completely useless but it teaches you stuff.

B: You actually did that?

V: Yeah…

B: That’s so cool!

V: Yeah you gotta do some stuff like that.  It teaches you signal processing and, you now, mechanical stuff like that.  The only downside was my mom was angry because we had to take out the entire toilet handle to remove the device, because I screwed it in too far.

B: That’s awesome though.

V: Yeah so you can always start by yourself, because when you start doing a lot and they ask what skills you have, you need to have something, and you must have applied your skills in something.  And you have something you can show them.

B: So then how did you teach yourself how to do that? For instance, how did you know how to get…

V: You have to find something that you really like, that you don’t have to force yourself to learn.  I didn’t have to force myself to learn, I always watched something while I’m eating food, you know. Like watch a YouTube video to improve on what I’ve learned now.  Also, there’s a lot of resources.  These days too. All for understanding and improving your knowledge on something. And there’s also if you want to start something, there’s like, literally fifty dollar lab kits for everything.

B: Alright… wasn’t so bad, right? That’s the interview, thank you for your time!

V: No problem at all.


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