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Andrea Pacheco


Together with sponsor Meta, Tyndall celebrates the winners and finalists of the 2021 Postgraduate Publication of the Year.

Despite the continuous pandemic challenges, our students once again showed outstanding discoveries and results as part of their PhD projects, some even opening major new possibilities in their field.

Dr Fatima Gunning, Head of Graduate Studies at Tyndall, praised the entries, saying: "Year on year our students really showcase their outstanding contributions to Tyndall’s Research Excellence through the Postgraduate Research Publication of Year competition. This time, we noticed new entries from students who started their research during pandemic and lockdowns, which were quite disruptive, but their perseverance, endurance and team support paid off with excellent results! Once again we saw early stage PhD students submitting their exceptional publications, so special awards as Rising Stars for 2nd and 3rd years were also included! Congratulations to all!"


Andrea Pacheco

Andrea Pacheco


“Lung tissue phantom mimicking pulmonary optical properties, relative humidity, and temperature: a tool to analyze the changes in oxygen gas absorption for different inflated volumes”

1. What encouraged you to submit your application to the 2021 Postgraduate Research Publication of the Year? 

This publication awakened the enthusiasm of the optics and photonics community about the viabilities and potential applications of gas spectroscopy into respiratory health care, catching the attention of researchers around the world about the technologies we are advancing in Cork. This is evidenced in the fact that our article was flagged for promotion upon publication by SPIE Senior Editor Renae Keep, who wrote ‘Lung model proves viability of spectroscopy technique’. It was also featured in OpticsPhotonics News magazine by Karen Kwon with ‘Spectroscopy Could Improve Lung-Health Measurement’; and in the Analytical Scientist with ‘The Phantom Lung’ written by Lauren Robertson. I thought this was a good sign to participate in the 2021 Postgraduate Research Publication of the Year.
2. What inspired you to choose the subject of your paper? 

With the aim of contributing in the clinical translation of Gas in scattering media absorption spectroscopy (GASMAS) into neonatal respiratory care, our group has faced multiple challenges, many of them related with the bench-top measurements in the lab. As you may know, we cannot go straight into the clinic and study the GASMAS technique on patients Therefore, we have developed a set of multi-layer anthropomorphic and functional phantoms to understand the technical limitations and advantages of GASMAS in simulating a clinical environment. These phantoms have been well received by the bio-photonics and biomedical community as mimicking the optical properties and functionality of human tissue is needed to test light-based devices.
3. What’s your paper about and how did you prepare for it? What role did research excellence play in your approach?

The article presents the elaboration of a lung phantom which recreates the tissue in the respiratory zone of the lung (alveolar sacks filled of air, surrounded by absorbing and scattering material). Pulmonary temperature and relative humidity are also mimicked. With the work done with this phantom we have shown for the first time, to the best of our knowledge, the potential of GASMAS technique to sense changes in gas volume in a controlled environment which mimicked lung tissue.  It summarizes 2 years of work, we (the co-authors and I) started to plan how to build this phantom at the end of 2019. I was very frustrated trying to keep a temperature of 37 ºC inside a bottle which was half filled with water, no matter what I tried I did not manage to do 2 consecutive GASMAS measurements with the same (or at least similar) parameters. And if this was just a bottle, how was I supposed to move from there to recreate lung tissue? I brought this problem to a meeting with the Biophotonics team at Tyndall and Professor Brian Wilson, who was visiting our institute at the time. After brainstorming, the path to make a lung-tissue phantom seem to be feasible, the unique skills of each of the co-authors and hard work paid off.  I think research excellence is about choosing your team players wisely and exploiting the unique skills of each to achieve the goal. I have been very lucky to count on the support of Konstantin, Walter and Stefan.
4. The selection for Research Publication of the Year is extremely competitive. What is your advice for those aspiring for nomination next year?

If your work is solving a need in your field, and you know that you are taking a step beyond state of the art, submit your work. Do not be shy when describing the impact of your research, you are doing great progress, and it should be noticed.
5. What is the single most significant support Tyndall has been able to offer you in achieving your research goals? (Please provide any detail on additional supports that assisted? How has Tyndall enabled you to fulfil your potential in this regard?)

Tyndall has contributed with the infrastructure and laboratory facilities necessary to achieve my project goals. I am very thankful with the Biophotonics@Tyndall group, for enabling the academic visit of outstanding researchers in the biomedical field. Having the opportunity to discuss the challenges in my project and brainstorming with people from different backgrounds has enriched my skills in problem solving. Many of the ideas to face the challenges along my PhD came out in a coffee break with people from other groups at Tyndall. The diversity and excellence drive is everywhere!

Research Publication Link

Andrea Pacheco; Konstantin Grygoryev, Walter Messina, Stefan Andersson-Engels, “Lung tissue phantom mimicking pulmonary optical properties, relative humidity, and temperature: a tool to analyze the changes in oxygen gas absorption for different inflated volumes”, Journal of Biomedical Optics 27(7), 074707 (2021).