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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI student on her way to Brown Med School via Germany

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

East Greenwich resident is first URI engineering student accepted to Med School through Brown's Early Identification Program

KINGSTON, R.I. -- August 31, 2004 -- As East Greenwich resident Sareh Rajaee prepares to spend a year studying and working in Germany as part of her University of Rhode Island academic program, her long list of accomplishments has already set her apart from her fellow engineering students.

The biomedical engineering and German major completed an internship this summer with Slater Hospital in Cranston to develop a voice-activated device that allows disabled patients to call for a nurse when they are unable to press the call button. Using advanced voice recognition technology, she and a co-worker adapted the device so it can be operated in two modes -- one that only recognizes the voice of a designated patient, and one that can be controlled by anyone's voice.

Working in cooperation with URI Professor Ying Sun, she also refined a multi-port "sip and puff" switch enabling those with disabilities to control their environment -- operate the TV or lights, for instance -- by blowing into a tube.

Rajaee's outstanding academic record and aptitude with projects such as these have earned her admission to the Brown Medical School through its Early Identification Program, the first URI engineering student ever to be admitted through the program. While she still has two more years left in her undergraduate education, she is already excited about the prospect of medical school.

"My dad got his Ph.D. at Brown, and I spent a lot of time there at his lab, so I feel comfortable there. I've always been very impressed with the school," said Rajaee, a native of Iran who speaks four languages. "And I love Providence, so I'm very excited about living there for four years."

Although she hasn't yet identified a medical specialty to focus on, she knows she is interested in clinical medicine rather than research. "There are so many options and so many different fields to choose from," she said.

To gain experience with medical research, Rajaee spent time this summer working with Dr. Ali Nayer at Rhode Island Hospital studying why so many kidney transplants fail. They believe the failures may be tied to certain diseases.

Before she gets wrapped up thinking about medical school, however, Rajaee will spend the coming school year in Germany as part of the URI International Engineering Program. The five-year program requires that students study both engineering and a foreign language, and they spend the year following their junior year studying and working abroad. Since Rajaee's chosen foreign language is German, she will study at the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany and work at Siemens Corp.

"I'm a little bit nervous and very excited at the same time, because I've never been far from home before," said Rajaee, who founded the URI Knitting Club and has also made a name for herself as an artist.

"Sareh is an outstanding scholar with talents in engineering, languages and research, and she is particularly interested in helping patients with disabilities, so she’s a perfect fit for Brown's highly competitive program," said Joanna Norris, URI associate professor of biological sciences and the chair of the University's Health Professions Advisory Committee. "There are very few spots open to Rhode Islanders at Brown Med School, and we've never had an engineering student accepted, so we're especially proud that Sareh was selected."