Spotlight on Student Athletes: Emma Stowe, B.S. '20

Emma Stowe in the lab

Degree: B.S.
Year: 2020
Concentration: Biomechanics and mechanobiology (BMMB)
Sport: Triathalon Team

Emma Stowe running
Emma Stowe, member (soon to be President) of the Cornell Triathalon Team.

Why Cornell? Why BME? Why biomechanics and mechanobiology?
I came to Cornell because I was interested in the strong engineering program and unique outdoors opportunities that Ithaca offers. Ever since I learned about Biomedical Engineering through the FIRST Lego League Body Forward Challenge, I have been interested in the field and the goal of bridging the gap between biological sciences, engineering, and medicine. As a Global Health minor, I am also interested in how to apply my engineering background to improve human health worldwide through innovative solutions, education, and improved scientific communication. Biomechanics and mechanobiology interests me because of direct application of physics and engineering concepts to understanding the human body and biological mechanisms. Biology is easier for me to understand when I can understand why what is happening is happening, rather than memorizing the specific proteins or communication pathways. Mechanobiology is intuitive to me because complex biological phenomena can be simplified to proven physics mechanics concepts. 

How did you get started in your sport and what do you love about it?
I have been involved with the team since my first semester at Cornell and this year I will be President of the club. I got involved with Triathlon in middle school when I started doing local races on the weekend with my family. I love the sport and the variety of having three different activities rather than one. In High School, I was an avid runner and participated in cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track. Triathlon offers a change of pace from running as the planning and preparing for three sports allows for a variety in both the training and race mindset. I also love the fun and crazy mindset of the Triathlon community at Cornell. This group of students loves any athletic challenge including waking up at 6am to get a quick open water swim in the freezing water of Cayuga lake before an 8am class, spending their whole Saturday biking 100 miles around Cayuga lake, or camping out in a parking lot before a 50k trail race.

Does your major/concentration have any association/connection to your chosen sport?
I first learned about Biomechanics from a summer research experience at Virginia Tech where I was working in an Orthopedic Biomechanics lab doing tensile fatigue testing on rat FDL and ACL tendons. I was immediately interested in this biomechanics research due to the connection to fatigue-based sports injuries that I had observed in myself and my teammates throughout my years as an athlete. My personal connection between human movement, sports injuries, and biomechanics is part of what drew me to the field of mechanobiology and biomechanics. Knowing the physical limits of my body in terms of injury and endurance from my experiences running, biking, and swimming, helps me better internalize many of the concepts covered in mechanobiology.

Are you involved in any research here at Cornell BME?
I have been working in Dr. Butcher’s lab for the past three years. My research is tackling the unmet need of vascularization of thick flap tissue for applications in deep tissue wound healing.  Development of an intact, hierarchal vascular network for delivery of nutrients and oxygen is problem that must be addressed for many clinical applications of tissue engineering. Our lab is examining 3D bioprinting strategies, matrix formulation, and shear stress modulation to promote angiogenic processes and vascular network formation in engineered tissues.

How do you balance academic/training time?
As a Club Athlete, academics and mental health always come before my commitments with the Triathlon Team. However, with prioritization and planning I can make my schedule work to attend team workouts daily and travel on weekends for racing.

What other activities do you participate in on or off campus?
Other than my academics and research, I am involved with the Cornell Triathlon Team and Cornell Outdoor Education. Through the Outdoors Department, I teach hiking and backpacking physical education classes to other Cornell students and lead Outdoor Odyssey pre-orientation trips. I have also tutored in Physics for the Learning Strategies Center and served as a TA for BME 2110, Biomolecular Thermodynamics.

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