Mafalda Ribeiro attended the 2023 IEEE Conference on Engineering in Medicine & Biology (EMBC) in Sydney, Australia and writes about her experience:
“At the end of July, I attended the IEEE’s 45th Annual International Conference on Engineering in Medicine & Biology (EMBC) in Sydney, Australia, thanks to funding from ART-AI and the Institute of Engineering & Technology (IET) Travel Award scheme. EMBC is the flagship conference for the IEEE’s Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBS), the world’s largest international society of biomedical engineers. The conference covers a wide range of topics, such as biomedical signal processing, informatics, sensors and wearable systems, biorobotics, among many more. I was thrilled to have a full contributed paper accepted for EMBC, as well as for this research to be accepted for oral presentation.
The work I presented at the conference involved preliminary studies on applying machine learning (ML) techniques to more efficiently and robustly remove noise from recordings of peripheral nerves. This would be crucial for closing the loop in neural implants, where electrical recordings could be helpful to tailor stimulation for each individual, but noise in these recordings can vary significantly, and hence be difficult to process. In the work I presented, two novel ML models for unsupervised denoising in other domains were applied for the first time to spontaneous electrical recordings from the vagus nerve. In addition to nerve recordings, blood pressure data was also collected and incorporated to better inform what the ML models should optimise towards, given the absence of an absolute ground truth. Initial results show that ML models offer promising performance in terms of denoising these recordings in a more flexible manner, yet these findings require further validation on larger and more diverse datasets, and more in-depth analysis.
Beyond my own presentation, I also had the chance to see leading researchers around the globe present their work, and I attended extremely valuable sessions set up by the IEEE EMBS Student Activities Committee on carrying out research in industry and start-ups. In all, attending the technical presentations and these career development sessions were invaluable not just for my PhD research, but for obtaining different perspectives on career opportunities beyond it. Finally, EMBC was a brilliant opportunity for networking, both in terms of catching up with existing collaborators but with meeting new ones. The technical presentations, poster sessions, and evening receptions all presented several opportunities to engage with researchers, clinicians, and engineers in my field and beyond.
Attending this conference would not have been possible without an IET travel award. I therefore strongly encourage PhD students and early career researchers to apply for this award if they are looking for additional funding. A more detailed report on my trip and the IET Travel Award can be found here.”