"Following graduation, I will be working as an Associate Specialist in Merck’s IT Emerging Talent Rotational Program, where I will be rotating between projects in Data Science, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Software Engineering." Read more about Kristen Ong, Undergraduate Senior
Maegan Rudolph, Undergraduate Senior
Hometown: Greer, SC
BME Degree Program: B.S. in BME, Biomechanics and Mechanobiology (BMMB)
I was recruited to swim at Cornell so the coaches and the team culture certainly played a role in my decision, but on the academic side I knew Cornell had a fantastic engineering program while still encouraging students to branch out with liberal studies. In addition, Ithaca was beautiful, and I looked forward to spending time hiking around the gorges and swimming in the lake.
I saw majoring in BME as an opportunity to develop problem solving and collaboration skills while working in a field that truly betters people’s lives. I’ve most enjoyed learning how the human body itself functions as a combination of engineering systems and recognizing the scientific principles behind things we all experience on a daily basis.
How did you decide on your BME concentration, Biomechanics and Mechanobiology (BMMB)?
As I think many athletes in BME would say, biomechanics appealed to me because I knew it would allow me to explore the science behind my sport and any injuries that either I had personally experienced or that I had witnessed my teammates experience over the years. I was also pleasantly surprised by how fascinating mechanobiology ended up being. In one of my BMMB electives, MAE 4640: Orthopaedic Tissue Mechanics with Professor Christopher Hernandez, we learned that the gut microbiome can influence tissue strength which was definitely something I had never considered, so it’s been incredibly interesting to see how the micro level can influence the macro level through biomechanics and mechanobiology.
What was it like to pursue and finish your degree during the pandemic?
It’s been nice to have a few more hours in the day by not having to commute across campus multiple times, but my classmates and I have missed some exciting labs due to pandemic restrictions. However, the BME faculty have been accommodating and have created as immersive of a lab experience as possible, and I feel my cohort has adapted very well to a hybrid learning environment.
What advice might you give other students considering BME?
The workload can be extremely time-consuming, but finding a way to make the material interesting for yourself can have a tremendous impact. Fortunately, there are so many fascinating phenomena which we discuss in BME so I’ve found it easy to be excited about the material, and that’s what has helped me get through the most challenging assignments.
Any interests outside of or in relationship to your scholarship?
Varsity swimming has by far been my greatest involvement and representing Cornell Athletics has been a treasured experience over the last four years. Aside from that I was most recently a tutor for Students Helping Students, an organization which was launched at the start of the pandemic to provide enrichment to the children of Weill Cornell Medicine employees who were working around the clock. In addition, I spent a couple of semesters and a summer working as a biochemistry intern for Zymtronix in the McGovern Center, the startup incubator in Weill Hall. This was a fantastic opportunity to see the real-world applications of my coursework and to learn how a variety of scientific and engineering disciplines can come together cohesively to create a cutting-edge company.
What’s the next step for you?
After graduation, I’ll be moving to San Francisco and working as an Associate Consultant at Trinity Life Sciences. My teammates have often expressed that consulting has a working environment reminiscent of the supportive team which we have all valued during our time at Cornell. The more I learned about it, the more I could see myself working in the field, and I knew that healthcare consulting specifically would allow me to apply the analytical skills I have developed in BME while continuing to learn about a variety of areas within healthcare and medicine.
Favorite quote that helps inspire you in your work/life?
“You can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time - Jon Gordon.” - Patrick Stephen Gallagher
The first time I heard this quote was right before Thanksgiving my freshman year, the most grueling time of year for the Swimming and Diving team. I presume my coach had recently read a Jon Gordon book because he would say this day after day to remind my team to focus on the good things when we were feeling overwhelmed. Over the past four years, he has frequently reiterated this when he sees we could use a change of mindset, and I try to remind myself of his words whenever things seem daunting.