Q: Please tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?
Biomedical engineering doctorate student Priya Nair always wanted to study an unconventional engineering field. She chose biomedical engineering, which was a relatively new major offered in Indian universities when she began her undergraduate study near her hometown of Chennai, India. Once she saw how she could apply engineering concepts to the medical field, she realized she had found her calling.
“More research on biomedical engineering led me to realize that applying engineering concepts to the medical field to improve healthcare and quality of life was exactly what I wanted to do,” Nair says. “The prospect of developing techniques to fix diseases excited me, and I knew that I wanted to go to graduate school to learn more about this amazing engineering field.”
Q: Why did you choose to come to ASU?
Answer: The research conducted at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering is outstanding, and that was one of the main factors I looked into while choosing graduate schools. That quality of research combined with excellent faculty made ASU my top choice!
“The learning experience at ASU has been incredible,” Nair says. “The biomedical engineering graduate program is structured such that it includes theoretical as well as laboratory experience. Furthermore, the collaborations with leading hospitals and research centers such as the Mayo Clinic and Barrow Neurological Institute encourage students to apply engineering and problem solving skills to the real world.”
In 2015 Nair won the Student Paper Competition in the biofluids session of the Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering and Biotransport Conference in Snowbird Utah. For her last year of her doctorate studies Nair was awarded the Graduate Dissertation Fellowship for her post-candidacy doctoral work.
Q: Was there a particular “aha!” moment when you knew that you were on the right path?
A: I was always interested in working on aspects related to the human body. This led me to choose biomedical engineering as my undergraduate major. It was during a bioinstrumentation class in my sophomore year that I realized I was on the right path. The prospect of developing techniques to fix diseases excited me, and I knew that I wanted to go to graduate school to learn more about this amazing engineering field.
My adviser, associate professor David Frakes, has inspired me with his vision of applying engineering principles to medical problems, such as 3-D printing congenital heart models for pre-surgical planning and investigating blood flow in the brain to understand how treatments alter that flow. The various collaborations he has established as a professor at ASU have given me the freedom to explore what I enjoy and provided me with plenty of opportunities.
Q: What did you do after graduation? Graduate school? Did you have a job lined up?
A: I graduated with a PhD in biomedical engineering this semester, and worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Frakes’ lab to continue working on cardiovascular biofluid research.
Q: What are you doing currently?
I work at Medtronic’s Structural Heart Research and Innovation team (Heart Valve Therapy). My jobresponsibilities include
– Front-end heart valve research
– Cardiac anatomy and device segmentation
– In-vivo device/anatomy interaction analysis
– Relay device boundary conditions to the product development team for simulations andexperiments
– Anatomical models design for bench-top experiments
Q: How do you see your future? What is your dream for your life?
A: My long-term career aspiration is to work in academia as a professor and research techniques to better understand causes and treatment solutions to cardiovascular diseases.