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Engineering | Undergraduate Research

Katerina Soltero, Travel Grant

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During Spring 2016, biomedical engineering student Katerina Soltero attended the New England Science Symposium in Boston, Massachusetts. Katerina has been conducting research under the mentorship of Harvard professor Dr. Conor Walsh and PhD student Joshua Gafford as part of the Harvard BioDesign team and attended the conference to present her research poster titled, “3D Printed, Force Sensing Handle for Endoscopic Devices.” After the conference, she took some time to share the details of her experience.

In layman terms, what was the conference about?

The New England Science Symposium provides an opportunity for researchers to share their biomedical and health-related research activities through oral or poster presentations. The conference also encourages participants to engage in discussions related to career development in the sciences, and to exchange ideas and to expand their professional networks.

What motivated you to present at this conference?

I was motivated to present at this conference because of the research I had done over the summer with the Harvard BioDesign team. I am very excited about the work they are doing and I am grateful for being able to contribute to their goals in a small way. This conference allowed me to share my research with science professionals that look forward to the great strides in technology and medical devices that the Harvard BioDesign Lab is working towards.

Tell us about some of the presentations you attended!

One presentation that I attended was how a job in industry after graduation could provide insight that could later be applied to graduate school. Many students go into graduate school right after graduation and for some fields, that is the best course. This presentation discussed how working in an industry position first, could provide insight on the demands and problems in engineering medical devices. This real-world experience could provide clear insight when deciding which schools to apply to for graduate school, what lab you are most interested in working in, and having a specific thesis project in mind. I found this presentation useful to try and get insight into problems within industry before returning to graduate school.

Another presentation that I attended discussed the Do’s and Do Not’s when applying for your first job after graduation. The presenters ran through a series of scenarios and potential questions that could stump someone. This was a very practical presentation, because at some point everyone interviews for a position, which can be a very nerve racking experience. Going in prepared and knowing how to respond to difficult questions will make you, the candidate, stand out!

What do you think was the best part of the conference?

The best part of the conference was being able to discuss the amount of work and detail that goes into creating a smart medical device with specialized medical professionals. It gave me insight as to how smart devices could revolutionize surgical procedures and make them safer for patients in the near future. Being able to talk to specialized doctors and see how excited they were about my project and what changes it could bring to them and their patients made all the hard work worthwhile.

Has your involvement with this conference influenced your research plans?

This conference motivated me to continue to pursue research opportunities and take an interest in the research fellow students are engaged in. This conference also motivated me to continue to pursue difficult career paths in science, engineering, and medicine because discoveries, and innovations made by our generation of researchers is truly possible.

Is there anything you wish you knew prior to the conference?

Prior to the conference I wish I had known that there are thousands of students all over the world working hard and researching seemingly impossible things. Although it may seem that undergraduate researchers make up just a small pool of people, there are more students than you think and you aren’t alone.

Any suggestions for other students regarding conferences?

Apply to conferences! Even if you are not a presenter, you will gain so much insight and encouragement at the work and effort that students just like you are putting in to make the world a better place!

Going to a conference? Have research-related travel needs? Apply for the Undergraduate Research Travel Grant!

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