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
Samantha Henry, B.S. 2020
Concentration: Biomechanics and mechanobiology (BMMB)
Sport: Varsity Gymnastics
Why Cornell? Why BME? Why biomechanics and mechanobiology?
I chose Cornell because of its strong academics with a wide selection of engineering disciplines. I also wanted to continue my gymnastics career so I looked into the school’s team and loved the team’s mentality towards academics and athletics. I majored in BME because of my love for the intersection of biology, mathematics, and physics. Biomechanics and mechanobiology was my ideal concentration because I’m very interested in the result of impact forces on the human body and the movement of the body and how it is affected by injury.
How did you get started in gymnastics and what do you love about it?
I started when I was 7 years old and trained in competitive club gymnastics through elementary, middle, and high school. I got started because my mom put me in a class to get out all my energy as a kid and it just stuck! I love the lessons it’s taught me, like having a competitive spirit and never giving up even when I fall (hard). It’s also a tough sport as we literally defy gravity and I love the challenge of learning new skills and perfecting them for competition.
Does your major/concentration have any association/connection to your chosen sport?
Yes, I realized I was very interested in how the human body moves and how that movement changes with different injuries and impacts as I saw myself and teammates go through serious injuries over time in the sport.
Any specific facets of your coursework that inspire you, and in what way?
I really enjoyed BME 3410 course lecture on "Impact, Impulse, and Injury". We got to learn about the biomechanics behind injuries associated with sudden acceleration and deceleration. It was fascinating to gain an understanding of how parts of the body reacted under sudden loading and unloading and the healing process of the injury post-trauma.
In what way(s) does your identity as a student inform your identity as an athlete and vice versa?
The most important thing to me is my identity as a student. This identity has been positively changed by my identity as an athlete. Gymnastics has taught me so many positive life skills and I don’t think I would be as tenacious and hard-working if I hadn’t done hours and hours of training every day since elementary school.
What’s the best/ most challenging aspect of being a student athlete?
My biggest challenge is being able to successfully balance academics (attending classes/office hours, doing homework, studying for exams), athletics (training, recovery, travel), extracurriculars, and of course sleep. My favorite part of being a student athlete is how rewarding it feels when I successfully balance school and athletics.
How do you balance academic/training time?
I’ve been balancing a hectic academic and training schedule all my life so it feels almost ingrained in me. I’m used to making schedules and keeping organized so I don’t forget any assignments or practices. Making time to study can be difficult but I try to be as resourceful as I can, such as studying for exams while on the bus as we travel to and from meets on the weekends during second semester.
What other activities do you participate in on or off campus?
I am in a project club called the Theme Park Entertainment Group (TPEG). We are a team that utilizes a combination of engineering, computer science, and art to create themed entertainment projects. For example, in the past we’ve built a Ferris wheel, an animatronic bird, and we’re now working on a roller coaster using a 3D printer and acceleration and braking systems.
Do you see your future career choices merging your athletic and academic interests and if so, how has/does the BMMB concentration help you discover that?
I believe my athletic and academic interests combined perfectly to lead me to the BMMB concentration and will put me in a career with strong ties to sports and BME. The combination of studying biomechanics and being around a sport that causes many bone related injuries has made me very interested in pursuing a career in orthopedics, specifically in sport-related injuries.