December 4, 2005Her job: Biomedical Engineer, Johns Hopkins University
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I am an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Why did you choose engineering?
As a child I always liked toys or projects that were scientific or engineering-related, but I started focusing more in middle school and high school on engineering science fair projects. I did research projects related to my father's area of research (he is a professor of engineering) and loved working in his lab after school.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. I did research in the department of chemical engineering at MIT and medical classes at Harvard.
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
My lab works on regenerating tissue, mostly cartilage. Cartilage is on the end of your bones in joints like your knee and hip. We work on developing new biomaterials and using stem cells to make these new tissues. Being a professor, it is important to think not only of the basic science and engineering and teaching but also how your work will impact society and how you can make your research help people.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
I like being able to work with a diverse group of very smart people to find solutions for common medical problems. In our lab we work with basic scientists, engineers, physicians, and people in industry working to take research to the real world.
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
The biggest challenge, balancing a career and family, is also the most fun and gratifying part of my life.
Please tell us a little about your family.
I am blessed with a wonderful 4-year old daughter named Sophie.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
In the short term I would like to develop a productive research laboratory working to solve important medical problems using principles of engineering. In the long term I would still like to be a professor but also start a company and get involved with science policy.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
My family and mentors have had a strong influence on my decisions.
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
Outside of work I enjoy riding horses, playing the piano, and traveling.