“When I was in high school I had a very passionate biology teacher who really impacted my life choices. I heard of this opportunity called BioQuest Academy through the Center for Infectious Disease Research, which I did the summer after my junior year of high school. The program taught me about the global impact of disease and I was introduced to related research. They told us that we were the future of medicine and I laughed it off.But when I heard about the opportunities that bioengineering offers, I realized that I actually could make a big difference in medicine.
I was introduced to disease research in high school but more recently I work with ultrasound and microbubbles in Dr. Mike Averkiou’s lab. We use microbubbles to deliver therapeutics to a specific location in the body. We inject the bubbles intravenously and then use ultrasound to track them through the body. When they reach the site of the tumor, we pop them with higher power ultrasound. My specific project is to study the microbubbles’ effects in vitro. I create an enclosure with a monolayer of cells and study the interaction between the microbubble and cells. We also do ex vivo studies, where we take pig livers, hook them up to a perfusion system to keep the liver alive and then do experiments using the pig liver as a model.
I will also be working with ultrasound after graduation as part of Philips’ ultrasound group. I’m excited about the position because it’s related to my research and is close to home since I’m local. I obtained the foundational knowledge through BioE, but I don’t know everything that I’m going to be doing when I start so it’s going to be a lot of learning. What got me the position was communicating that I am a learner and will absorb information that I can apply to other problems. The managers told me that some electrical engineering students have better knowledge of ultrasound, but I had the passion and drive that the company is looking for. BioE is such a broad field that it provides an idea of everything you need to know and it’s up to you to fill in the gaps. You have to take control of your learning and growth otherwise you’re going to fall behind.
I was also involved in the industry and student relationship program, BioEngage. I was able to work with students on professional development, and helped connect students to companies. It was so exciting for me to have students come up to me after events and say that they had heard about a new company that they didn’t know they could work with, and to hear later that they had interviewed with that company.
My advice for future students is don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone to find what you enjoy. I didn’t know anything about the research that I’m doing until I heard about the opportunity. Come in with an open mentality and learn as you go. Most of all, don’t be afraid to fail, we all do it a lot, and you learn more from failure than success.”