Katrina Robinson is an undergraduate student of biomedical engineering and also a track-and-field athlete. Below she discusses cross-country success, academic drive, and shares advice for similarly ambitious students.

BME: When did you first become interested in biomedical engineering?

Robinson: To be completely honest, not until September last year. I came into college unsure about what exactly I wanted to study, but I knew that I really enjoyed science classes and that my strongest classes were ones involving critical thinking. After settling in during the fall and thinking a lot about what was right for me, I decided that biomedical engineering would be perfect. It was the perfect blend of science and math and becoming an engineer really excited me. It also opens up doors into the health field which I have always been very interested in.

BME: Why the University of Arkansas?

Robinson: Growing up as a track runner in Australia, I always knew that I wanted to pursue my passion for running at an American college. The sport is so much bigger here than at home and the opportunity to run on scholarship was also one that I couldn’t pass up. The University of Arkansas has such a renowned track program and when I took a visit here during my senior year I fell in love with the campus and fit right in with the team.

BME: What classes or labs have you enjoyed most? 

Robinson: I have really enjoyed taking University Physics 1 this semester because I find physics to be such a fascinating subject. I like how tangible the science is and the fact that you are learning about concepts that you encounter in everyday life. I also loved taking the Principles of Biology class last semester because I find it interesting learning about the inner workings of the body.

BME: How do you balance being a student athlete and a biomedical engineering student?

Robinson: I developed a lot of good habits in high school which I have been able to carry with me into college. It can definitely be tough trying to balance a full course load while also fitting in hours of practice each day and having to miss a lot of school days travelling to meets, but I always try to plan out my week in advance to figure out the best times to study. I try to set aside small but consistent study sessions throughout the week instead of trying to cram it all in at one time, because I find this helps eliminate stress and gives me time each day to do other things I enjoy.

BME: Any advice for other student athletes who are studying biomedical engineering at the U of A? 

Robinson: Classes can get stressful at times, so my advice is to remember why you are studying biomedical engineering in the first place. It is such a fascinating program that can lead to so many exciting careers, and reminding myself of this always helps motivate me when I feel weighed down with exams and homework. My other piece of advice (which is easier said than done) is to complete homework and start studying for tests as early as possible. This will make every course seem a lot more manageable and will eliminate a lot of stress.

BME: Do you feel that your success as an athlete and a biomedical engineering student complement each other? Where do you think this ambition comes from?

Robinson: I think they definitely complement each other because both require a lot of hard work and commitment. Just like studying, running each day can be tough and there are definitely days when a hard workout is the last thing I feel like doing. However, learning to put in the hard work consistently each day is what has helped me achieve my best results both on the track and in the classroom. I also find that running is a great way to destress when school feels overwhelming and it always helps me clear my mind. I have always been very ambitious which I have been able to apply to all aspects of my life.

BME: Any plans after graduation?

Robinson: After graduating, I plan to keep running and to hopefully be competitive at an Olympic Games. I don’t have any specific academic plans yet, but as I continue with my degree and explore the different aspects of biomedical engineering, I hope this will become clearer.

BME: What has been your proudest moment thus far in college? 

Robinson: My proudest moment was being named SEC Freshmen of the Year during cross country season and also placing second at the cross-country Pre-Nationals in Wisconsin in a strong field.