Holly Zheng, B.S. '19

Holly Zheng

Why did you choose Cornell?
I knew I wanted to come to Cornell after I visited campus. It had one of the best engineering programs in the nation (and had an engineering quad instead of just one building), the people are kind, the food is good, and the campus is beautiful.

Why did you choose to major in BME at Cornell?
I knew I wanted to work in some healthcare related job post graduation, but the biology major did not incorporate as much of the technical education I wanted. BME was a great balance of both.

Research topic/ Lab(s)/Adviser(s):
I was involved in two research labs during undergrad. I joined Professor O’Brien’s lab my sophomore year where I worked on a government/military project studying the reason for stress fractures in women during boot camp using thermal ionization mass spectrometry. Although this lab was not within BME (it was in the Nutritional Sciences department), I learned many relevant skills that were applicable in my BME labs. My current research revolves around studying the mechanotransduction pathways between nuclear proteins and the ECM in Emery Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy. I joined Professor Lammerding’s lab my junior year.

What opportunities has the major given you so far?
The coding classes that are integrated into the curriculum were extremely useful when applying to positions. My experience in MATLAB, R, SIMCA, and objective-C from the core BME classes were a major talking point in all of my interviews.

What was your favorite class or experience at Cornell BME and why?
I really enjoyed second semester senior design; it’s what I always imagined engineering to be like. Cornell BME gave us so many resources in the design lab (five 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, all the circuit parts you can ask for), and we were able to completely take charge and mimic the process of taking a product from ideation to market.

What clubs/organizations do you participate in at Cornell?
I’m a member of Alpha Phi Omega which is a co-ed service fraternity. Through APO I was able to work for so many organizations around the community like Salvation Army, Expanding Your Horizons, Hotel Ezra Cornell, etc. And of course BMES.

Do you have any advice for students considering research in Biomedical Engineering?
Join a research lab! There are so many labs that are doing groundbreaking research and all the faculty members are kind and always willing to help you with your career. My research experience in Professor Lammerding and Professor O’Brien’s lab opened a lot of doors for me when applying to internships and jobs.

While at Cornell/BME, what did you do for fun?
My friends and I really enjoyed cooking together and hosting extravagant “house dinners”. One of my friends turned into a huge chef junior year and he would make three or four course dinners for our friends. Since the trek to Weill from collegetown is so long and all uphill, we were able to justify our food indulgences!

Favorite Cornell/BME memory?
Once a semester, my major will gather at someone’s house and we will all bring food and play card games together.

What’s the next step for you?
I’m taking two gap years before applying to medical school. I’ll be working as a Technical Development Cell Culture engineer at Biogen!

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