There pursue a higher education in bioengineering,

There have been many moments throughout my life that have led me to pursue a higher
education in bioengineering, but one weekend in particular has assured me, without a doubt, that
I belong in academia – the 2017 Annual BMES Conference. Just before leaving for Phoenix, I
had analyzed a failed western blot, the third in a row. I felt dejected, but the BMES conference
put things back into perspective: research is a never-ending cycle of breakthroughs and
disappointments, and each are equally important to the scientific community. Listening to others
share their recent successes was uplifting, and the entire weekend reminded me how much I love
listening to, talking about, and discovering science.
I developed my passion for bioengineering over three years of research, mentoring, and teaching
and I am ready to pursue a PhD in biomedical engineering. After experiencing research in
government, industry, and academia, I have decided to pursue professorship and direct research
to improve disease outcomes. I have been fortunate to have several research experiences already,
along with a strong curriculum that has prepared me for my future endeavors.
I began research in Summer 2015 at the NIH, studying gene expression under Dr. Deborah
Hinton. Although not directly related to bioengineering, the research was still important to the
health care field and it opened my eyes to the world of research. I learned lab techniques, how to
communicate my findings, and, most importantly, I saw how rewarding research can be. While
this experience was incredibly helpful in laying my foundation to be a successful researcher, I
continued to look for different opportunities closer to my field of study.
In Summer 2016 I interned at MedImmune with Dr. Deborah Goldberg in order to gain insight
about the other side of therapeutics and BME applications: industry research and manufacturing.
A complement to my academic research, my internship at Medimmune taught me what it takes to
make drug products and devices marketable, providing me with additional parameters to
consider as I perform my own research.
Since Fall 2015 I have worked in the Biotherapeutic Development and Delivery Laboratory with
Dr. Steven Jay, engineering new ways to deliver RNA interference therapeutics to the body.
With a stipend awarded through the UMD LSAMP program funded by NSF, I worked with a
research associate in Spring 2016 to develop a novel loading method for EVs that was published
in Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering. I am continuing research in EV drug delivery for my
Honors thesis as a fellow of the UMD Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant. My work in Dr.
Jay’s lab, has confirmed my passion for the field and given me the confidence to pursue a PhD.
My mentor in lab for the past two years has now left the university, so I am completing my thesis
independently. It has greatly improved my ability to design experiments and come up with
creative solutions when things do not go as planned in lab.
In addition to my research, I have made it a point to gain experience in teaching to ensure that
professorship is right for me. I have been an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for two classes
now, and I was certain teaching was my passion after I first heard a struggling student finally
say, “It all makes sense now.” I look forward to my weekly office hours as a time that I can help
the younger BME generation and reflect on how far I myself have come since Freshman year.  These experiences have cemented my desire to teach and mentor, and I believe that receiving my
PhD is the first step to being able to have an impact on future scientists.
Yale has an outstanding BME program. I am especially interested in the work done by Dr.
Saltzman, Dr. Fahmy, and Dr. Fan in drug delivery, and by Dr. Van Tassel and Dr. Miller-Jensen
in biomolecular engineering. I am excited to apply my background in exosome drug delivery and
offer a unique perspective to related biomedical fields. I am happy to see that Yale promotes a
collaborative environment, not only with STEM departments and the incredible medical school,
but also with its liberal arts programs. This unique interconnectedness of liberal arts and
engineering gives researchers an understanding of the social, political, and economic factors
affecting their research, and promotes solutions to issues such as the stigmatization surrounding
many prescription drugs. After also speaking with my current lab professor Dr. Steven Jay, who
attended Yale for his PhD in BME, I believe that Yale will be a great fit for my research interests
and my career choice. I would like to thank the Committee for your time and consideration, and I
look forward to hearing back from you.


I'm James!

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