Flexibility, adaptability are key skills developed in the Cornell BME major

Riya Singh

Riya Singh, Undergraduate Student

Hometown: Marlboro, NJ
BME Degree Program: B.S. in biomedical engineering '22, concentrating in Molecular/Cellular/Systems Engineering (MCSE) 
Lab affiliation: Matthew DeLisa
Awards/Honors: Dean's List

Why Cornell?
I wanted to be in a BME department which encouraged me to explore various aspects of engineering before choosing a specific path. The BME program at Cornell allowed me to be exposed to different types of classes and paths that I could take in the field while also allowing me to dive deeper into specific areas of interest as an upperclassman. I was also excited to join a relatively new program where my academic journey would help shape the future of the program.

Riya Singh performing gel electrophoresis in the DeLisa lab
Riya Singh in the lab.

Why BME?
BME allows the perfect intersection between the medical field and hands-on engineering work. I think it offered more opportunity to explore the various areas of the biomedical field and provided an extensive foundation for anything that I want to do in the future. I am particularly interested in both the business and computer science sides of BME.

How did you decide on Molecular/Cellular/Systems Engineering (MCSE) concentration?
I chose MCSE because I was more interested in the cellular and systems engineering aspects of BME. This concentration also provided a lot of leeway when choosing classes in other concentrations which allowed me to explore my interests more.

Tell us a little about your work in the DeLisa Lab.
In the DeLisa Lab, I have worked on a variety of projects and worked to develop a deeper understanding of immunoengineering research. I have worked on projects focused on the use of outer membrane vesicles for vaccine delivery. I have also worked on virtual projects focused on aligning peptide sequences to find vaccine targets for several viruses.

What do you think are some of the most important skills or lessons you’ve learned while pursuing this major?
One of the most important skills that I have had to learn in this major is flexibility. Not everything will always work out immediately in science and I think learning to adapt to changing situations is something that I have gained from coursework, research, and internship experience. I also think that it is an important skill that I will use throughout the rest of my career.

What advice might you give other students considering BME? 
My advice would be to not be set on what you want to do when you come into the program. The coursework we are exposed to allows us to explore a lot of different career options and areas of interest but it is hard to be open to learning about those if you don’t come in with an open mind.

What stands out to you about your Cornell BME experience so far?
My favorite class has been our senior design class throughout senior year. It has been a great opportunity to finally put all the skills we have learned throughout the last four years to use. I also enjoy how our projects that we create are completely our own and relate to our own interests.

What’s next?
After graduation, I will be working for Trinity Life Sciences consulting as an associate consultant in NYC. This job allows me to explore my interests in the business side of healthcare and learning how pharmaceutical development progresses firsthand. In the past, I have been an intern for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in the Quality Control department working with automating various types of bioassays. I have also had the opportunity to work as an intern at the NIH working in auditory development and restoration. All of these experiences have allowed me to explore both the research and industry sides of BME.

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