Why was the KU School of Engineering the right choice for you?
The people here in the KU School of Engineering are remarkable. The culture and sense of community created by the students, faculty and staff here is second to none, and is such a collaborative and encouraging environment. It was the right choice for me because not only could I participate in cutting-edge research, custom fit my classes to my research interests, but I love the interdisciplinary focus to ensure the research is clinically relevant with partnerships within the main campus, west campus and at KU Med.
What are you currently researching?
My research is focused on understanding the biomechanics of spinal fusion. We are developing of a novel spinal fusion device that aids in bone healing and recovery. Specifically, we are working with clinicians to create a piezoelectric spinal fusion cage that will increase the success rate and enhance the bone healing for a quicker recovery for the patient, while not changing current surgery techniques. We will also investigate how this device alters the biomechanics in the spine after surgery.
What do you want to do after graduation?
After I complete my PhD, I would love to work for a small medical device company that develops and sells devices that help people regain lost mobility. After working in industry for several years, my longer-term goal is to go back to academia and teach.
What is your favorite thing on campus or in Lawrence that a prospective student should check out?
Lawrence is such a fun area. I am an outdoors person, and although there is no hiking (where I am from we hike up mountains), but there are lots of places to explore. Clinton lake is so close and such a great place to relax and enjoy the fresh air. I have loved trying all the great food that is in Lawrence, and just meeting and getting to know the people here. There are also tons of opportunities to volunteer and get involved in the community. I help with therapeutic horse riding lessons once a week, and it is such a rewarding experience, but there are also sports teams and other recreational activities that are available.
What advice do you have for prospective graduate students?
When choosing a school and/or research, make sure the program and lab you may want to join is the right fit for you. Grad school can be a bit of an adventure and you want to be surrounded with people that support you, encourage you, challenge you, and make your everyday life enjoyable. You can find great research almost anywhere, but the people are definitely what make the program special. Also, remember you are not just a student. Take risks and challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone personally. Join a rec sports team, volunteer, just make sure you are staying well-rounded with your relationships, health, fitness and take the time to enjoy life outside of school and research.