Physics Alum Collaborates on Laser Machining System

April 26, 2012 | 7:58 a.m.

By Nicole Finsaas ’14

Physics Alum Collaborates on Laser Machining System

Dawn Vitek ’03 presents “The Next Generation Laser Machining System.” (Photo credit: Chad Hoyt)

Dawn Vitek ’03 recently presented “The Next Generation Laser Machining System” to more than 40 students and faculty at Bethel. Her lecture explained a major discovery that she and her collaborators in the biomedical physics field have made. “We discovered a new femtosecond laser machining method that dramatically increases the machining rate for microscale applications,” she says, “such as for biomedical surgery and for fabricating microfluidic devices (labs on a chip).”

The discovery holds significant implications for the medical field. Physics professors Keith Stein and Brian Beecken believe that Vitek’s research can improve people’s quality of life. “This research has the potential to allow sophisticated medical diagnostics to be done cheaply and quickly for patients,” Beecken explains. “Because of the ‘labs on a chip,’ medical professionals would have the ability to diagnose multiple diseases with only one drop of blood, whereas before this would have required multiple blood draws. This discovery enables rapid prototyping of these hand-held devices.”

While some believe it is difficult to be a Christian working in the science field, Vitek feels differently. “As a Christian, I enjoy uncovering the laws of nature that God designed, and I think they magnify Him with their beautiful complexity,” she says.

Her years at Bethel impacted Vitek’s decision to continue in biomedical physics. “Without the enthusiasm and support of professors at Bethel, I would not have pursued a graduate degree,” she says. “I hope one day that I can fill a similar role and impart some of their enthusiasm and wisdom to a new group of students through teaching.”

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