Justin Laiti '22
Class of '22
Fulbright Ph.D. student at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering, I continued my education at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. To pursue my Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, I received a U.S. Fulbright grant. My research with the digital health research team at the Centre for Positive Health Sciences explores the development of a community-driven wearable device and mobile application as a tool to identify and manage the stress and well-being of students in Ireland. This research allows me to utilize interests I fostered at Virginia Tech such as wearable devices, participatory research, and psychological health and well-being.
What faculty/professor had the most impact on you and how?
Adjunct faculty member Grace Wusk and the late Samuel Herrick Professor Clay Gabler had a significant impact on my experience at Virginia Tech. Gabler’s lab, where I worked with Wusk on her research for two years, was my first introduction to research. I went into this position thinking that it was an exciting project but that research wasn’t going to be my long-term plan. Working with Gabler and Wusk completely changed my mind and led me to decide to pursue research in graduate school.
Being a Virginia Tech alumnus means…
Continuing to build on my strengths, fostered during my undergraduate experience, to serve the community around me. I’m grateful that Virginia Tech offered opportunities to engage with people both within the university and in the greater New River Valley. I hope that Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) will continue to be the driving force behind my endeavors as an alumnus.
My fondest memory from my time in the College of Engineering is...
The yearlong journey that my senior design team went on. From the insights gained through interviews with patients and other stakeholders throughout the year, to work nights where we ordered tater tots or got sidetracked by random online questionnaires, it was a fruitful experience with a wonderful team and advisor, Research Professor John Robertson.
What advice would you share with your college self?
Take advantage of all the opportunities you have at your fingertips while also taking care of yourself! It took until my senior year to realize how vast the clubs, electives, service opportunities, etc., really are at Virginia Tech. I also didn’t understand the importance of balancing all these opportunities with time to recharge and enjoy free time. Pursuing these opportunities, like the Movement and Media course, allowed me to explore interests that connected with my engineering work in unique ways.
What was a project that you worked on while at Virginia Tech?
After proposing a project based on research I conducted with Wusk, I received a Virginia Space Grant Consortium scholarship to pursue a yearlong research project. Through this project, I was able to apply what I learned in past research and internships to use electroencephalogram and eye-tracking technology to track the effect of stress-alleviating conditions when participants completed cognitive, computer-based tasks. This experience allowed me to understand what it was like to run my own research project, which provided invaluable insights as I was applying to graduate school.
B.S., Biomedical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 2022
Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, 2026