Rooted in community, reaching for a solution to antibiotic resistance

Christine Harper

Christine Harper, Ph.D. Student

Hometown: Swayzee, Indiana
BME Degree Program: Ph.D.
Lab affiliation: Dr. Christopher Hernandez

Why Cornell?
I chose Cornell because I felt supported, included, and challenged here. I was initially drawn to Cornell because of the breadth and diversity of research, and I was excited at the prospect of working on such creative, cutting edge work. However, what ultimately what made me choose Cornell was the sense of community in the BME department. It is full of good people who are genuinely rooting for your success.

Christine Harper holding a microfluidic device she made at the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility (CNF).
Christine Harper holds a microfluidic device she made at the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility (CNF).

What’s your research about?
Antibiotic resistance is a growing threat to global health. My research focuses on how bacteria are capable of sensing and responding to physical signals in their environment, and how this plays a part in antibiotic resistance. Through my work on understanding some of the fundamentals of bacteria physiology I hope to contribute to new antibiotic strategies down the road.

What’s the most rewarding part of your Ph.D. experience so far?
A prospective Cornell Ph.D. student recently told me that reading about my research was of the reasons they decided to apply to Cornell. Seeing how my work directly impacted another person a small but real way was one of the coolest moments of my Ph.D. so far.

Do you have any advice for other students considering research in BME?
It’s perfectly normal if you don’t know exactly what you what to do yet. Give yourself time to explore new areas of research and rotate in several different labs. Be open to going new directions. Biomedical engineering is at the intersection of many disciplines, and there is so much interesting research that you may not have heard of before.

Christine Harper working with kids at Girl Scout Engineering Day in 2018
Christine Harper (left) working with kids at Girl Scout Engineering Day in 2018.

What do you do for fun?
I like paddle boarding on Cayuga Lake in the summer, playing board games in the winter, and playing volleyball with my friends year-round. I also enjoy volunteering for outreach programs that get girls and young women excited about science and engineering including Girl Scout Engineering Day, Expand Your Horizons, and Women’s Outreach in Materials, Energy and Nanobiotechnology.

What’s the next step for you?
After graduation, I want to use the research skills I have gained during my Ph.D. to work in medical device research and development. As a person with Type 1 Diabetes, I experience the positive impact medical technologies can have on people’s lives every day, and I want to contribute to that.

Favorite quote that helps inspire your work/life?
“The reward of the young scientist is the emotional thrill of being the first person in the history of the world to see something or to understand something. Nothing can compare with that experience.” – Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

More info:
•    Christine Harper at LinkedIn 

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