Biomedical engineering students receive SPIE scholarships in optics and photonics

Photo of Tony Akl and Ryan SheltonTony Akl (pictured on the right) and Ryan Shelton, both Ph.D. students in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, have been selected to receive a scholarship from the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE).

The society awards scholarships to recipients based on their potential contributions to the field of optics, photonics or a related field.

Akl is a member of the Optical Biosensing Lab working under the supervision of Dr. Gerard L. Coté, and his research focuses on optical sensing and diagnostics. Specifically, he is working on implantable sensors to monitor perfusion and oxygenation in implanted livers in the early post-transplant period. He plans to use this award to participate in various technical conferences and to present his research. Akl has been a member of the SPIE community for more than two years, and he has participated in multiple SPIE-funded outreach events. He is currently the secretary of the local SPIE student chapter at Texas A&M University.

Shelton works in the Laboratory for Optical and Molecular Imaging under the supervision of Dr. Brian Applegate. His primary research area is high-resolution molecular imaging using photo-acoustic microscopy, and his research also includes various applications of optical coherence tomography. Since Shelton plans to graduate within the next year, he wants to use the scholarship to purchase a laptop that will be used for writing his dissertation. He also plans to use the funds to attend two conferences where he will present his research.

“I would like to extend my thanks to SPIE for this opportunity. As president of Texas A&M's SPIE student chapter, I am continually impressed with the lengths the SPIE organization goes to enrich the experiences of their student members,” Shelton said. “SPIE gives more monetary and administrative support to their student chapters than any other organization I have worked with.”

SPIE scholarships are open to full and part-time students studying anywhere in the world, and SPIE judges all applications on their own merit based on the experience an education level of the individual student. More information on these scholarships and SPIE may be found on their website at