Prepared for a pharmaceutical industry career

Danielle Frye

Danielle Frye, Undergraduate Senior

Danielle Frye in a sailboat on Cayuga Lake
Frye takes on the waves: sailing class on Cayuga Lake (2019)

Hometown: Huntingtown, MD
BME Degree Program: B.S. in biomedical engineering '23, concentrating in Molecular/Cellular/Systems Engineering (MCSE)
Lab affiliation: Dr. Jonathan Butcher (Lab) / Ilana Brito (Advisor)
Awards/Honors:  Ryan Scholars

Why Cornell?

I chose Cornell for its renowned engineering program that boasts award-winning faculty experts in a variety of fields. In addition, Cornell offers students access to state-of-the-art equipment and resources that enhance understanding of engineering concepts. The Cornell Engineering program is also complemented by a well-rounded liberal arts curriculum from which you can choose electives. 

Why BME?

I chose the BME major because of my passion for the healthcare industry. When I was growing up, my father worked as a nurse and my mother as a software developer. Their careers inspired in me a desire to merge theses two skill sets into my own career in healthcare. BME provided an opportunity for me to use my aptitude for technology in the healthcare industry. 

Working on soldering capacitor to a circuit
Soldering capacitor to a circuit (2023)

How did you decide to concentrate your study in Molecular/Cellular/Systems Engineering (MCSE)? 

I wanted to deepen my understanding of how to modify genetic material to improve characteristics of cells and genes as well as how to create new ones altogether. Labs in MCSE also provided skills and knowledge for a career in the pharmaceutical industry, including understanding field language such as “GLP” (good laboratory practices) and “bsl” (biosafety levels) -- essential concepts for ensuring the safety and efficacy of drug development for the FDA. 

Danielle Frye creating graphs based on manual data from an oscilloscope (2023)
Creating graphs based on manual data from an oscilloscope (2023)

What do you think are some of the most important skills or lessons you’ve learned while pursuing this major?

One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to embrace new challenges and ideas! Throughout all my semesters at Cornell, I was presented with new and thought-provoking concepts that have fortified my knowledge and prepared me to take on complex subject matter and real-world issues. Now, I feel as if I can tackle any challenge that comes across my path!

Any advice for other students considering BME?

Recognize the value of the interpersonal and technical skills gained through various collaborative projects. Skills such as project management, problem-solving, and critical thinking, combined with mathematics, economic analysis, and human physiology will make you a POWERHOUSE in the field and on outside projects. 

Danielle Frye and members of Alpha Omega Epsilon standing in a group
Frye and members of Alpha Omega Epsilon (2022)

Any extracurricular interests? 

I am a current member and former president of Alpha Omega Epsilon, a sorority for women in engineering and technical fields. This sorority is a social and professional organization that promotes friendship, leadership, and professionalism among its members while also supporting us in our fields. 

In addition, I am a member of the Cervicheck team, a research initiative led by Dr. Jonathan Butcher, which aims to develop a device to accurately diagnose women’s health. As a member of this student-led team, I have acquired invaluable leadership skills that I intend to leverage in my career. Moreover, my involvement in this project has given me opportunities to engage in multifaceted tasks such as mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering, as well as experience with biological complexes, which are all integral components of the biomedical engineering major.

What stands out to you about your Cornell BME experience?

The most rewarding experience has been the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge acquired from Cornell’s BME program to my final senior design project (BME 4090). Our project is a testament to the innovative and interdisciplinary nature of the program and has garnered recognition through awards and has even provided us the opportunity to patent the device! I will be the first in my family to have a patented device, an achievement that I may have not received at any other university. 

What's next?

Upon graduating, I will start my full-time career at Merck & Co. as part of their IT emerging talent program. This two-year program will expose me to three distinct roles designed to provide me with comprehensive technical, business, and professional experience. My decision to go to this program was motivated by my prior internship at Merck as a product analyst for a data engineering team, a role that allowed me to take on numerous challenging projects requiring different skillsets. Thankfully, the knowledge and skills I acquired at Cornell fully prepared me to take on this role. Returning to Merck as part of their IT emerging talent program will again allow me to immerse myself in diverse and challenging projects, while developing numerous skillsets in a dynamic environment.  

Favorite quote that helps inspire you in your work/life?

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

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