Melanie Wallace is an alum of the Lammerding Lab, now improving health and quality of life through innovation at 23andMe. Read more about Making an impact through genetic health innovation and education
Erica Sadler, B.S. '18
Hometown: Columbia, Maryland
Why did you choose Cornell?
I chose Cornell for its strong engineering program and collaborative environment. Plus, it really is beautiful here!
Why did you choose to major in BME at Cornell?
I knew I wanted to be pre-med, but I have always loved math and enjoyed a high school coding class. I felt like BME would be the best path to incorporate all my interests.
What opportunities has the major given you so far?
Being the first year, our major has been pretty small so I’ve gotten a lot of one-on-one time with faculty. Additionally, there’s a strong focus in our classes about being hands on, so I’ve gotten to perform many experiments and projects on my own rather than just learn about them in a classroom setting.
What was your favorite class at Cornell BME and why?
BME 3310 was my first class for my focus, Molecular Cellular and Systems Engineering (MCSE). Even at times when I felt like the class was a lot of work, I hardly minded because I enjoyed the material so much. It really showed me that I had chosen the right path.
Are you affiliated with any research group or faculty? If so, what research are you working on?
I work in Professor Adie’s lab where we work with imaging techniques like Optical Coherence Tomography to enhance biological research. Being more on the cellular side of things, I prepare many cell samples in matrigel and collagen, but I also help out with some of the imaging.
What clubs/organizations do you participate in at Cornell?
I was a tutor for the STEP and Upward Bound programs, working with students from local high and middle schools. I have also been an active member the professional engineering fraternity Theta Tau and the social sorority Alpha Xi Delta. I have participated in a variety of other clubs, but the previous three listed were the ones I stuck with for years and was most devoted to.
What is something that surprised you about the major/experience?
I was surprised by how hands-on we could be in many of our classes and how easy it was to talk to professors and TAs directly to get additional help. My fellow students were also much more kind and collaborative than I ever imagined.
Do you have any advice for other students considering research in Biomedical Engineering?
Get involved! Our program does a great job of providing opportunities in and out of the classroom. But, I will also say, a summer position can give a much better idea of what it’s like to spend all of your time in a research setting and if it’s right for you.
While at Cornell, what did you do for fun?
When the weather is warm, I love to hike, and, cold or warm, my friends and I love a good brunch. As cheesy as it is, the most fun I’ve had here hasn’t been about what I was doing but about who I was doing it with. We may be moving away this year, but I have friends I know I will keep in touch with for life and who will do great things.
One of my friends and I had a lot of classes together and used to live in the same building. Whenever we had a problem set due soon, we would go to her place, make popcorn or order Thai food, sometimes put on the Office in the background, and then sit down to do work. The problems might not have gone as fast as they would have if we didn’t stop to gossip every half hour, but the late nights were definitely worth it.
I am going the NIH for a two-year research position through their Post-baccalaureate program. I plan on using this time to prepare for and apply to MD/PhD programs.