A conversation between the Graduate Biomedical Engineering Society and Michaela Rikard, a third year PhD student in Shayn Peirce-Cottler's Lab.

Q: Where is your hometown?

New Bern, North Carolina

Q: Where did you go to undergrad and what did you study?

Biomedical Engineering at NC State University

Q: What made you choose UVa for graduate school?

After recruiting visits to several other schools, it was clear to me that the culture and mentorship style at UVA was what I was looking for in a graduate program.


Q: In one sentence describe your research and highlight any recent accomplishments.

I am coupling a model of cardiac fibroblast signaling with a multi-cell model of collagen remodeling in the heart to explore better therapeutic options for cardiac fibrosis following a myocardial infarction. I am currently working on publishing this as a methods paper.

Q: Is there anything scientifically interesting (article, conference, TED talk, technique, etc) you would like to share with our readers?

I'll use this opportunity to put in a plug for the AAAS Annual Meeting, which is in D.C. in February, so hopefully many of our students will be able to attend. It doesn't often get the same attention from scientists and engineers because it is not the focused, specialized conferences they typically attend. However, it is a great opportunity to take a step back and view the field of science and engineering as a whole, how many disciplines interact, and some of the bigger challenges facing the future of science and engineering.

Q: If you couldn’t be a scientist what would you be?

I would probably run a non-profit related to global health and development...or a professional volleyball player. It's a toss up.

Q: In which extracurricular activities are you involved?

I am President of the Science Policy Initiative at UVA and a National Co-chair for the National Science Policy Network. I also work closely with the Office of Graduate Affairs to expand professional development opportunities and conversations around graduate education for PhD students at UVA.

Q: What’s your favorite spot in Charlottesville?

First Colony Winery and Sugar Hollow

Q: What’s your favorite hobby?


Q: Where is the next place you want to travel?

Greece - Anywhere on the Mediterranean really.