Kara Karstedt (left) and Kimberley Fuller (right) at the Women in the Workforce Conference in Bentonville, AR.
On Thursday March 1, Kara Karstedt, Operations Officer for the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Kimberley Fuller, Research Assistant for the Department, attended the Women in the Workforce Conference in Bentonville, AR. Below, they discuss their experiences as attendees and what they each learned from the conference:
Sponsored by the University of Arkansas Global Campus, the Women in the Workforce Conference focused on the importance of diversity, innovation and creativity in our work lives. The one-day event included discussions on topics such as how to be creative and innovative when under stress, how to empower and embrace your own creativity, and the importance of diversity and inclusion in problem solving and corporate growth.
The conference reminded us that everyone has creativity within us, and that we all need to consciously tap into our creative potential to maximize problem solving. Whereas invention, we learned, is the creation of a brand-new product or service (something created for the first time), innovation is putting something that already exists in a new context. Innovation is where most entrepreneurial endeavors focus, and personal passion and creativity is often a key driver of both invention and innovation. In these regards, Biomedical Engineering offers amazing opportunities for both invention and innovation. When creating something new or improving a process, the conference encouraged that we ask ourselves, “Am I thinking big enough? Bold enough? How much improvement is really possible? Is my thinking in any way limiting the possibilities?”
The UARK NSBE Chapter at the Region V Zone Meeting
Kristianna Jones is an undergraduate studying biomedical engineering, and the secretary of the UArk chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. Below, she discusses her experiences during last year’s Region V NSBE Fall Conference.
Being an African American student in the STEM field, it’s not very often that I meet people who look like me and have the same goals and aspirations as me. Well, at least not until you go to a NSBE conference. The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE for short) hosts multiple regional conferences every year and this year, many University of Arkansas chapter members and myself had the privilege of attending the Region V Fall Regional Conference in Tulsa, OK. The Fall Regional Conference (FRC) was a 3-day conference full of workshops, speakers and even a career fair with a plethora of well-known companies such as Cerner, Google and General Motors!
The first day of the conference was filled with various workshops about topics ranging from studying abroad to how to strengthen your personal brand. A few of these workshops were hosted by current and former University of Arkansas students. As the chapter secretary, I was often asked to help assist with and coordinate the events that the chapter would be attending so I even got to help prepare a few workshops for the entire conference! It was rewarding to see how the work I put in helped better the conference experience for students I had never even met before.
Shelby Bess and Caroline Spainhour are undergraduates studying biomedical engineering. Below, Bess (a junior) and Spainhour (a senior) discuss their respective decisions to come to the U of A, their work in Dr. Timothy Muldoon’s lab, and their future career plans.
UArk BME: Did you always know you wanted to study biomedical engineering?
Spainhour: I went to a smaller high school with a graduating class of about 100 students. My arrival at the University of Arkansas as one of 25,000 undergraduate students was a big transition. Coming to such a large university, I knew that I had to make it smaller somehow, so I wanted to choose a major where the professors would know my name. I have always liked math and science, so I decided to pursue an engineering degree. My uncle graduated from the U of A with a degree in industrial engineering and went on to become a physician, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. When he was in school, biomedical engineering was not offered at U of A, but I thought among all of the engineering disciplines, biomedical would help me distinguish myself academically when applying to start medical school. Looking back, I had no idea what biomedical engineering really was as a freshman in college, but now I am very pleased to have been a part of such a rigorous and rewarding academic program.
Bess: In high school, I took a Principles of Engineering course as an elective thinking that it was going to be an easy grade, but I learned so much more. After taking that course, I knew that I wanted to be an engineer. When I arrived at the University of Arkansas, I always knew that I wanted to be in the medical field, but I wasn’t sure which major was right for me. For my first semester, I was going back and forth between Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. When I went on the tour of the Biomedical Engineering department and looked at what they had to offer, I knew that the Biomedical Engineering department was the best fit for me. As a junior at the University of Arkansas, I look back at Decision Day and knew that I made the right decision.
L-R: Dr. Kyle Quinn, Lexi Betts, Hope Hesterly, Alexis Bryant, and Trey Jeffus
On Tuesday, October 10, four students from Camden Fairview High School visited Dr. Kyle Quinn’s lab at the U of A. The four students—Lexi Betts, Hope Hesterly, Alexis Bryant, and Trey Jeffus—are all current high school juniors, as well as participants in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program [or SSEP], a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S. and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education.
Dr. Jeffrey Wolchok
Congratulations to Associate Professor Jeffrey Wolchok, who was recently awarded an Investigator Award from the Arkansas Biosciences Institute (ABI), an agricultural and medical research consortium dedicated to improving the health of Arkansans. The Investigator Awards are designed to help enable researchers like Dr. Wolchok to further “explore many different body and cellular processes in their search for answers to challenging basic science and health related questions.” Dr. Wolchok’s particular research interests include biomaterials, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, bioreactors and the influence of mechanical force on cell behavior, as well as the design of medical devices. Dr. Wolchok has been with the Biomedical Engineering Department since its inception, and was recently awarded the 2017 Departmental award for Outstanding Achievement in Service.
Luis Palafox at the windmills of the La Mancha region in Consuegra, Spain, about 80 miles outside of central Madrid.
Luis Palafox is a senior biomedical engineering major, and a current Gilman scholar studying abroad in Spain. Below, he answers questions about the scholarship application process and his study abroad experience so far.
UArk BME: Where are you from? How far along are you in your studies at the U of A?
Palafox: I am from Fort Smith, Arkansas; it is my hometown and I went to high school there (go Northside Grizzlies!) I completed 2 years of undergraduate study at the University of Arkansas Fort Smith prior to transferring to the main U of A campus in Fayetteville. I completed my junior year here before leaving to study abroad and I am now a senior, currently in my 4th year of undergraduate study.
UArk BME: When/how did you first hear about the Gilman Scholarship?
Palafox: I first heard about it from Bryan Hill when he made a presentation in my course “Intro to Biomedical Engineering,” which Dr. Raj Rao was teaching at the time (fall 2016). Bryan presented new study abroad options for BME students—there was an opportunity to go out of the country for transferable credits in Australia, Denmark, or Spain. Towards the end of the presentation he discussed funding options such as saving personal money, going to nearby local churches for possible scholarships, setting up a GoFundMe, applying for bank loans, using FAFSA, applying for UArk scholarships like the Johnetta Cross Brazzell Award or a College of Engineering travel grant, and applying for outside scholarships like the Gilman Scholarship.