Ryan Haynes has the heart of a doctor, the brain of a research scientist, and the tenacity of a computer programmer. Now, as Tech's seventh recipient of the Marshall Scholarship, he's poised to realize his dream of creating life-changing medical technologies by developing the acumen of a business executive.
"I feel that a lot of really good basic science research just stays in the laboratory when it could be out there helping patients," said Haynes, a senior in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. "I like clinical work because it gets things to patients more directly. I feel business is the avenue to translate basic science to clinical applications."
Haynes will use his scholarship to sharpen his business skills at the University of Cambridge studying nanotechnology enterprise and bioimaging sciences at Imperial College London after that.
It's a career path that seems natural to the Calhoun, Louisiana, native who received his first computer when he was five and started experimenting with computer programming at age 11.
When it came time to choose a university he was torn between Georgia Tech, Rice University, and MIT. "The President's Scholarship Program is pretty much what pulled me over," he said. "I liked Georgia Tech's campus better and its academic environment was what I was looking for."
At Tech, Haynes has made the most of the opportunities offered in biomedical engineering, working in the neuroengineering lab of Assistant Professor Steve Potter and at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.
"One of the great things about Tech is its research program," said Haynes. "Work in the Potter lab has greatly complemented my coursework because you learn one thing in class and the next week you see it in the lab."
In Potter's lab, Haynes is testing how networks of neurons respond to different amounts of the chemical dopamine, which is involved in drug addiction, Parkinson's disease and schizophrenia. While many labs release the chemicals onto the entire culture of neurons, Potter wants to see how smaller groups of cells respond. "I created an enclosure and system to locally release chemicals, which will allow small volumes of neurotransmitters to stimulate cells much like what happens in a real brain," said Haynes.