On Studying Abroad in Spain: Q & A With Gilman Scholar Luis Palafox

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.


BMES Visits Butterfield Elementary

Marinna Tadros shows the children how to make putty.

Ethan Echols is a senior biomedical engineering major from Fort Smith, Arkansas. He is also the president of the University of Arkansas Biomedical Engineering Society, a group that recently took an outreach trip to Butterfield Elementary School. Below, he reports on the trip:

On September 26, 2017, several students with the University of Arkansas Biomedical Engineering Society visited Butterfield Elementary School to perform a variety of science experiments with the school’s science club. While most of our events take place on campus and concern only biomedical engineering students, community outreach is also a priority for this society. The opportunity to share scientific knowledge with children is particularly important, as early cultivation of scientific curiosity in young minds is essential for the emergence of tomorrow’s leaders in science and engineering.


On Improving the Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injuries: Nine Questions for Nasya Sturdivant

Nasya Sturdivant


Nasya Sturdivant is a doctoral student in biomedical engineering here at the U of A. She is presently at work building an effective synthetic blood-brain barrier that will help improve the treatment of traumatic brain injuries.

UArk BME: Did you always know you wanted to study biomedical engineering?

Sturdivant: I didn’t know I wanted to study biomedical engineering until my junior year in undergrad. A generation ago, the field of biomedical engineering wasn’t widespread. So it wasn’t a subject I grew up wanting to study. I did, however, know I wanted to be in a life sciences field and while in high school I gained interest in engineering and design. Researching a combination of the two is when I began to learn more about the emerging field of biomedical engineering.

UArk BME: You received your undergraduate degree from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC. What made you choose the University of Arkansas for graduate school?

Sturdivant: The Department of Engineering at the U of A was very new when I joined. The exciting research interests of the faculty along with the extreme potential for growth of the department was a huge draw for me. I also had the opportunity to visit the university and the department before applying and I really meshed with Dr. Balachandran, my current advisor.