K-State graduation year: 2008
Degree: BS in biological and agricultural engineering
Currently enrolled: University of Kansas, School of Engineering graduate student
Position: Graduate research assistant (GRA) in the Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Research Lab
How many times did you change your major during college?
Zero. I never changed my major. I came to K-State enrolled in engineering and I liked it so much that I never changed my major. And now I’m in graduate school for engineering, so I must really like engineering.
Describe the process of choosing your major:
I asked for advice from some of my high school teachers, and I thought about what I was good at and what I liked to do. In my case, I like math, science, and biology, so I decided to major in engineering. After researching the types of engineering at K-State, I decided on biological engineering.
What activities/organizations were you involved in while in college?
Society of Women Engineers
American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
K-State Engineering Ambassadors
Steel Ring Professional Engineering Society
Did you complete an internship or have related work experience prior to receiving your job?
Yes, I had an internship at Hospira, a pharmaceutical contract manufacturing company in McPherson, Kansas. I was assigned to a project in the product labeling department. My main role was to provide a fresh perspective to problems and develop solutions to make the department run more efficiently. The internship taught me how to problem solve, communicate, and work independently on a project.
Describe the process of finding your first job:
I discovered the KU Bioengineering program at the K-State Graduate School Fair. After doing some internet research and talking with professors at KU, I submitted my application, personal statement, and reference letters.
Briefly describe a typical day at your job:
As a PhD student, the first half of the program consists of taking classes, finding a research advisor, and deciding on a PhD dissertation topic. So a typical day during the first few years of my PhD included attending classes a few hours a day, doing class work, and reading papers and brainstorming with your advisor to find a research topic. The second half of the PhD program consists of completing dissertation experiments and writing papers for publication. A typical day for me, now that I am in the final year of my PhD, is working in the lab on experiments and writing. I also attend national conferences to present my research and network with potential collaborators.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the freedom to learn and discover.Also there is a great deal of variety in my day to day work. One day I may be in the lab running our mechanical testing equipment or culturing stem cells, and the next day I may be at KU Medical Center at a workshop. The variety and independence are great, not to mention the opportunity to discover new medical technology to help improve people’s lives.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
I have a lot of independence and free time, so I have had to learn how to be disciplined, manage my time, and be a self-starter.
What advice would you give someone interested in your field?
If you enjoy learning and doing cutting-edge research or you want to work in academia as a professor, graduate school is for you.