Manus J. Donahue, B.S. 2003

Professor of Neurology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center – Nashville, TN

2003 Major: Physics and Philosophy

How has being a Physics graduate from Duke helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

"I am a Professor of Neurology, and I direct a center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center focused on developing computational and imaging approaches to characterize tissue function in health and disease. Many of these approaches utilize principles of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a major goal is to develop new MRI sequences with contrast that is sensitive to physiological processes that may adjust in response to emerging curative or disease-modifying treatments (e.g., blood flow, blood-brain barrier function, neurofluid circulation, etc.). Dr. Robert Brown's introductory class in Electricity and Magnetism was the impetus to my interest in magnetism and the classes of Drs. Dan Gauthier and Glenn Edwards made me aware of biological and clinical applications of Physics. I went on and earned a PhD in Biophysics from Johns Hopkins, an MBA, and now have academic and industry positions where I apply many of these principles to improve diagnostic imaging methodologies."

What advice would you give students in Duke's Physics programs? 

"Physics is likely one of the most demanding majors; I also found that one of the worst things you can say to a girl while in college is that you're interested in physics. So, you should make sure that you love it and many do. The skills that you develop will be widely applicable, but you should also complement physics courses with courses in other scientific specialties (e.g., biology, chemistry, medicine) so that you not only have the computational skills to solve problems, but the knowledge to ask relevant questions."