Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-7-2021


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Biomedical Engineering


Rangos School of Health Sciences

Committee Chair

John Viator

Committee Member

Bin Yang

Committee Member

Gerard Magill


melanoma, photoacoustic, flow cytometry, optics


Metastatic melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, which is in part, attributed to its rapid aggression and lack of response to typical treatment methods. There are far too often cases where a lymph node biopsy does not detect the severity of the cancer, which in turn causes a lack of diagnosis until a mass can be visually detected on a scan, such as a PET, CT, or MRI. Once visible on a scan, the cancer is too progressive for successful treatment. To avoid this, we investigated how a blood sample can be used to negate a missed diagnosis, by using photoacoustic flow cytometry to detect melanoma cells within the blood. We studied the absorbance wavelength of human melanoma cells to determine the ideal cellular characteristics needed for photoacoustic flow cytometry detection. Using this data, we also determined the viability of a heterogenous melanoma cell sample being accurately detected through the flow chamber. These novel findings will be further used to develop photoacoustic flow cytometry as a viable, accurate, and timely method of melanoma detection and monitoring. They will also be used to further understand a minimum cell concentration and absorption reading needed for photoacoustic detection.