5th Grade Students Treated to Second Round of Speakers with Technology-Related Careers

Fifth grade students enjoyed listening last Friday to a second round of speakers who have technology-related careers.

First up was Andy Rouse who is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Imaging at the University of Arizona. Mr. Rouse grew up in Ithaca, New York. His mother was a high school math teacher, and his father was a physicist at Cornell University.

Mr. Rouse was preparing to take an entrance exam for college at University of Rochester when he came across the school’s optics section in a course catalog.

In the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of optics is “the science that studies light and the way it affects and is affected by other things”. 

Since Mr. Rouse enjoyed high school physics lesson on how lenses worked, he decided to try out optics classes. It turned out that the University of Rochester had one of the best optics programs in the world. Also, learning all about optics was what Mr. Rouse calls a “mix of math and physics,” which is what his parents did for a living.

Mr. Rouse enjoyed learning about optics in his undergraduate college program, and after taking a year off from school, he decided to head to the University of Arizona to attend graduate school. From there, he was hired at the college as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Imaging. 

Mr. Rouse says he has a lot of fun working in a lab that is full of lenses, microscopes, mirrors, lasers and fibers. He builds long, thin catheters that can take microscopic pictures inside a person’s body. 

Mr. Rouse provided us with a great example of the catheters he builds. A doctor who wants to look at a person’s esophagus tissue would be able to put a thin catheter down a person’s throat and see what the tiny cells look like without having to perform surgery to see this tissue under a microscope.

Mr. Rouse is married to Heather, and they have a four-year-old son named Jeremiah and a seven-year-old daughter named Hannah.


Speaking to the students next was Matt Risi, a graduate student studying optics at the University of Arizona. 

Mr. Risi is originally from Essex, Vermont. He’s always been a fan of reading and building things. 

Prior to coming to Tucson, Mr. Risi studied imaging science at The Rochester Institute of Technology and truly enjoyed it.

When Mr. Risi applied to graduate school, out of the many programs he applied for and was accepted into, he decided to head to the University of Arizona to work towards a PhD in Optical Sciences. He drove more than 2,500 miles to come to Tucson! 

Mr. Risi is currently a student in his sixth year of graduate school and hopes to finish his PhD work next May. His research focuses on medical imaging devices, specifically small microscopes that can go into a person’s body, with the goal of detecting diseases before it becomes too difficult to treat.


Thank you Mr. Rouse and Mr. Risi for talking to our students about your interesting careers and schooling in optics! A special thank you to Ms. Saundra, our elementary technology teacher, for setting up these incredible presentations. Ms. Saundra also recorded the presentations to show to fourth grade students. One more speaker with a technology-related career is scheduled to speak to fifth grade students in early November.