Charles Cunningham

Biophysics and Biology
Class of 2019
Prosthetics for East Coast Orthotics and Prosthetics Intern

Tell us about your internship?

I worked as an intern under Anthony Marano, Director of Prosthetics for East Coast Orthotics and Prosthetics (ECOP). I would accompany him in the workshop learning how to fit certain prosthetics and how to tailor them to the specific patients' needs. In addition to this, I would accompany him in meetings with some patients, so I had the opportunity to talk to them and learn what it is that goes into a good prosthetic from the people who are wearing them. I also worked independently on creating a new digital order form for the company since all order forms previously were done on paper forms. I built it so the forms would be sent to advisors automatically for review following completion by the prosthetist and also exported the data to a joint excel spreadsheet in order to create a database for Mr. Marano to look back on in the future. 

What research are you doing at Scranton?

At Scranton, I am doing research alongside Dr. Rusak of the Chemistry Department. We are using Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) to conduct an elemental analysis of seashells. By taking baseline readings across many shells and by doing online research, we can learn about elements that are commonly found in these shells. Then by performing an elemental analysis, we can find anomalies which allow us to draw certain conclusions. For example, if a shell is taken from the ocean and there are high concentrations of heavy metals such as magnesium or copper, we may be able to conclude that there are high levels of pollution in that area. 

Why did you choose Scranton for your major? 

In the future, I would like to be a Biomedical Engineer. I chose Scranton for my major because it was one of the few schools offering Biophysics as a standalone major, which acts as an immediate and direct lead into Biomedical Engineering. Before choosing Scranton, I was also accepted to Villanova and to SUNY Binghamton, but at both institutions, I would have had to approach my goal through either Computer or Electrical Engineering, and then specialize in graduate school. While both of these fields are useful, they were not the field I was interested in. Scranton allowed me to jump right into what I wanted to do and provided me with the most direct path to my goals. Along the way, I have learned invaluable information and have built incredible relationships with the faculty around me.

What do you like about your major specifically? 

I like Biophysics because it has allowed me to take a large array of different classes. In Biophysics, I have taken the entire Calculus sequence, Differential Equations, Organic Chemistry I and II, Biology, Modern Physics and Engineering Thermodynamics, Computer Science, and Circuit Analysis. Biophysics has immersed me in all of the science that I love while also giving me a taste of the other engineering tracks. This knowledge is interesting and the faculty instructing these classes are second to none. I wished to be a biomedical engineer, and this major has allowed me to build the foundation on which my career will be built instead of taking another engineering and then have to change my specific field and play catch-up in graduate school.

How has it helped prepare you for the real world, do you think?

In the real world, I will need an in-depth understanding of physics, biology, and engineering in my field. Scranton has provided me with the tools and information to build up my bank of knowledge regarding these fields. In addition to this, the most important thing, in my eyes, is the environment in which I was able to learn. Everyone who enters my field will, more-or-less, know the same things that I will; however at Scranton I learned these things in an interactive environment that was conducive to my overall growth as a person as opposed to as solely an engineer. I have learned how to excel in my chosen field, but I have also learned how to communicate well and understand others, how to work well with those around and cooperate to create something greater than what we could do alone, and how to use the resources available to me in order to continue learning on my own. These are the skills that will set me apart in the future and allow me to flourish in my career.