Rose Buchmann, Ph.D. Student

Rose Buchmann

Hometown: Chippewa Falls, WI
BME Degree Program: Ph.D.
Lab affiliation/Adviser: David Erickson
Awards/honors: Robert Mozia Graduate Student Distinguished Service Award (2019)

Rose Buchmann in lab with a medical device that separates blood without the need for electricity
Rose Buchmann in the lab with a medical device that separates blood without the need for electricity.

Why Cornell?
I loved the supportive community and the fact that students were able to do fun things outside of their Ph.D. while still achieving their academic goals. When I visited, I heard nothing but good things about the faculty, staff, and students in the department. I wanted to be surrounded by people who would help and support me, and I have definitely found that here!

Why biomedical engineering?
I was diagnosed with a genetic connective tissue disorder when I was 15, and I had to go through many different treatments for this disease. I met a team of biomedical engineers at Mayo Clinic who helped me regain my ability to walk, and I knew that I wanted to make a difference in patients’ lives just like they made a difference in mine. Biomedical engineering is a great way to combine my interests in engineering and medicine and to make an impact on people’s quality of life.

What is your concentration/area of focus and why is it important?
I work on developing infectious disease and nutrition diagnostics for developing countries. This is so important because people in these areas are suffering and dying from treatable or preventable diseases that they don’t know they have. I focus on designing molecular tests that can give accurate information, even when done with less advanced equipment and untrained technicians. This will hopefully help advance the quality of diagnostic results in low-resource settings without requiring extensive infrastructure changes.

What stands out to you about your Cornell BME experience so far and why?
The best part for me has been the environment of the department and labs. Through the department-organized social events, I have met so many amazing people! They have supported me, both in my academic goals and personal goals.

Rose Buchmann swims a marathon around Manhattan in September 2020.
Rose Buchmann swims a marathon around Manhattan in September 2020.

Any interests outside of or in relationship to your scholarship? 
Because Ithaca is right on Cayuga Lake, I train for open water ultramarathon swims! Last fall, I completed a 28.5-mile circumnavigation of Manhattan Island, and I hope to set a new course record for the 34.6-mile Cayuga Lake crossing this summer (the current record is 20hours 30min). I have found a lot of support for this hobby from my friends in the department; they drive to the lake with me before the sun is up, kayak alongside me for long training swims, act as my ‘safety manager’ when I try out a new lake, crew for my swims, cheer for me in long races, and join me for early morning pool workouts.

I also have been the outreach chair for the Cornell Graduate Society of Women Engineers for four years now! We do a lot of fun activities to help young girls learn about science and engineering. Recently, we were able to hand out science experiment kits to families in Ithaca and make different video demonstrations for engineering concepts so kids can participate at home. We also organize volunteer events in the community through Habitat for Humanity and have worked with the Cancer Resource Center to make and donate hats and shawls.

What advice might you give other students considering Cornell or BME? 
You have to spend time adjusting to being a graduate student. The hardest part for me is finding a balance between working in lab and spending time on other things I like to do. Creating a healthy balance is a very personal journey, but it is so beneficial in the long run!

What’s the next step for you?
I want to work in industry on developing medical devices. I love how impactful medical devices can be for increasing patients’ quality of care. I enjoy designing and building devices, and I have gained skills through my PhD that will help me develop technology that can benefit people struggling with disease and disability.

Favorite quote that helps inspire you in your work/life?
I like the quote from Finding Nemo, "Just keep swimming!" Not only because I swim a lot, but it reminds me to keep going, even when I feel like I’m not making any progress. It really helps in lab and in the water!

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