The heart of the matter

A young New Zealand researcher who is part of a cutting-edge, international heart team at Oxford University has graduated.

Jenny Wang, 26, graduated from the University of Auckland’s Bioengineering Institute (ABI) on 25 September with a PhD in Biomedical Engineering.

Jenny is currently a member of Oxford’s Computational Cardiovascular Science group - an interdisciplinary team of scientists translating their background in engineering, mathematics, physics, and biology to cardiovascular research. The aim is to improve the understanding of human hearts in health and disease, and to develop new mathematical and computational methodologies.

”My role is to create 3D models of the heart so we can study its electrophysiology and how this changes during arrhythmia,” says Jenny.

Born in north-eastern China, Jenny lived there until her family moved to Auckland when she was 10 years old. During high-school at Epsom Girls Grammar she had an “amazing slew of biology teachers and also really enjoyed calculus and physics so bioengineering seemed like the perfect combination”.

Jenny completed her PhD last year on characterising human heart failure with clinical imaging and structure-based computer modelling.

Professor Martyn Nash, who supervised Jenny’s Auckland PhD, says the personalised modelling tools she developed for extracting biomechanical properties of heart tissue have the potential to help cardiologists around the globe better understand individual-specific mechanisms of heart failure. “And thus inform management and care of cardiac patients.”

For Jenny the most important thing about her PhD was that it opened her eyes to the world. “During my degree, I was able to attend numerous overseas conferences and speak with people who are world experts in the field.”

She says the best thing about Oxford is similar to the best thing about her PhD.

“It has also been an eye-opening experience. The people in my lab are from all over the world, and everyone's open for a stimulating conversation.

Jenny Wang

“Aside from research work, there are also so many opportunities to meet new people and experience new things at Oxford. I've been here for five months so far, and during those five months I've performed with the Oxford University Orchestra and the Oxford Sinfonietta and met many amazing young musicians with great potential.

“My landlord is a professor of archaeological architecture at Oxford, and he always has interesting stories about old buildings and wars. His wife is a sculptor who sells stone carvings to wealthy collectors. They have had Annabelle White, the NZ cookbook author, over for dinner parties, and the illustrator of Winnie the Witch is their neighbour.”

“Oxford is certainly an exciting place to be.”

Tess Redgrave | Media Adviser
Communications Office
Tel: 09 923 7383  Mob: 027 562 5868

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