Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Jessica Ramella-Roman

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Anuradha Godavarty

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Shuliang Jiao

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Wei-Chiang Lin

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Malek Adjouadi

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


Mueller matrix, polarimetry, collagen, cervix, preterm birth

Date of Defense



Preterm birth (PTB) is defined as delivery prior to 37 weeks of gestation. It is the leading cause of infant death worldwide, responsible for infant neurological disorders, long-term cognitive impairment, as well as chronic health issues involving the auditory, visual, digestive, and respiratory systems. In expectant mothers, causes for PTB can include infection, inflammation, vascular disease, short intervals between pregnancies, multiple gestations and genetic factors. In the U.S., PTB occurs in over 11% of births and at an elevated 18.1% in Miami-Dade County, FL; while in the developing world the incidence of PB is over 15%. Early identification of at-risk pregnancies is important for the success of medical intervention.

Current diagnosis methodologies of PTB include ultrasound imaging of cervical length and fetal fibronectin assay but have low positive predictive power. Compared to the markers targeted by current diagnosis methodologies, collagen content in the cervix changes more drastically throughout the course of gestation due to its link to changes in load bearing capacity that occur during the phases of pregnancy. Mueller matrix polarimetry is capable of characterizing changes in collagen without making contact with patients and may prove to be an improvement to current diagnosis methodologies. A clear difference is seen in collagen orientation between nonpregnant and pregnant patients.

The development of a new imaging modality aimed at assessing early changes in collagen arrangement in the cervix may improve risk determination of PTB and reduce the morbidity of the condition. Earlier prediction of PTB could improve outcomes by allowing longer intervention times to prolong gestation time for the infant in the womb. A more reliable quantitative predictor may also lead to development of more treatment options.





The content of chapters 2-6 have been published by the Journal of Biomedical Optics and SPIE.

Previously Published In

Joseph Chue-Sang, Yuqiang Bai, Susan Stoff, David Straton, Sharan D. Ramaswamy, and Jessica C. Ramella-Roman "Use of combined polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography and Mueller matrix imaging for the polarimetric characterization of excised biological tissue," Journal of Biomedical Optics 21(7), 071109 (1 March 2016).

Joseph Chue-Sang, Yuqiang Bai, Susan Stoff, Mariacarla Gonzalez, Nola A. Holness, Jefferson Gomes, Ranu Jung, Amir H. Gandjbakhche, Viktor V. Chernomordik, and Jessica C. Ramella-Roman "Use of Mueller matrix polarimetry and optical coherence tomography in the characterization of cervical collagen anisotrophy,” Journal of Biomedical Optics 22(8), 086010 (29 August 2017).

Joseph Chue-Sang, Nola Holness, Mariacarla Gonzalez, Joan Greaves, Ilyas Saytashev, Susan Stoff, Amir Gandjbakhche, Viktor V. Chernomordik, Gene Burkett, and Jessica C. Ramella-Roman "Use of Mueller matrix colposcopy in the characterization of cervical collagen anisotropy," Journal of Biomedical Optics 23(12), 121605 (7 August 2018).

Joseph Chue-Sang and Jessica C. Ramella-Roman "Optimization of the incident wavelength in Mueller matrix imaging of cervical collagen", Proc. SPIE 10478, Molecular-Guided Surgery: Molecules, Devices, and Applications IV, 1047809 (2 March 2018);

Joseph Chue-Sang, Mariacarla Gonzalez, Angie Pierre, Megan Laughrey, Ilyas Saytashev, Tatiana Novikova, and Jessica C. Ramella-Roman "Optical phantoms for biomedical polarimetry: a review," Journal of Biomedical Optics 24(3), 030901 (8 March 2019).



Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).