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Physics Major Brings Heat to Kill Tumors

Andrew Molchan

April 14, 2010 – Physics major Andrew Molchan (C'10) knew he wanted to build things at an early age and gain hands-on research experience from the start of his academic career. But this past summer he outdid himself helping to design a cancer treatment that kills tumor cells using heat.

"One of the reasons I came to Georgetown was for the research opportunities in the physics department," says the Villanova, Pa., resident. "I knew [after graduating from college] I would be going into a position that involved research so I knew if I was going to progress in the sciences, it would be in a career in research."

The Georgetown senior, who has been involved with research projects since his sophomore year, also has worked in the optics lab on a computer program meant to improve microscope images.

He conducted research for projects for the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center with physics department chair Ed Van Keuren and oncology professors Kathleen Pirollo and Esther Chang.

Molchan became better acquainted with research through Georgetown's Carroll Fellows Initiative. As a first-year student, he applied for the university's flagship program for developing research and leadership skills, and has been working in labs ever since.

"I thought it was great that there was a program available to support students who were new to creating their own research projects," he says.

Tumor Treatments

Molchan's research opportunities afforded him experiences not only within the physics department, but also within the Medical Center campus.

He worked with cancer imaging and treatment at Lombardi during his sophomore year, and later took on the tumor-killing treatment project at Lombardi after receiving Georgetown's Raines Fellowship for undergraduate summer research.

Theory and Business

For his senior project, Molchan shifted his focus to the theoretical side of physics.

"With the stuff I did over the summer, I actually made the particles and submitted them to different tests. [Now,] I'm looking at the mathematical basis for how these contrast agents affect the magnetic field," says Molchan.

In addition to being a Carroll Fellow, the Georgetown College selected him as a Baker Scholar. The program allows Georgetown's arts and sciences majors to experience business firsthand through trips in-depth discussions with industry leaders and mentoring by Baker Scholars alumni.

He plans to build on that experience soon after graduation. The senior will begin a two-year commitment with T. Rowe Price's Investment Fellowship Program, where he will rotate among different disciplines within the firm.

"I just thought it was really interesting to not only do research and look at new knowledge and new technologies," says Molchan, "but to take the next step and see how they could be applied in a realistic way distributed, marketed put into people's homes."

John Glavin, director of the Carroll Fellows Imitative, calls Molchan's range in interests and skills impressive.

"His keen, analytical mind finds a home in a wide spectrum of disciplines from the sciences to business," says Glavin. "… He is really an Ignatian man for others, giving, guiding, leading."

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