#UVABME2020 students Anna Lam and Michael Ramirez are interviewed by classmate Termeh Ahi.
From Termeh's interview with fellow BME#2020 Anna Lam:
Termeh Ahi: How you are involved with research at UVA?
Anna Lam: For the past two summers, I’ve been working at the UVA hospital in cardiac electrophysiology with physicians and engineers from major medical device companies to analyze data from their systems that are used to map the heart’s chambers and heart arrhythmias, in 3D. This coming May, I will be in San Francisco to present an accepted abstract as the first author to the Heart Rhythm Society.
Recently I joined Cerillo, a local biotech startup that spun out of Dr. Jason Papin’s lab, as a product engineer. I’ve had the opportunity to get involved in various stages of a startup company and conduct hands-on work to assemble and test our devices.
T: Why did you want to do research and how did you first get your foot in the door?
A: Growing up, my family didn’t speak much English. Rather than pursuing an education for themselves, my parents made sacrifices and worked hard at their jobs to make sure their children would be the ones to receive a proper education. From a young age, my mom took me to her doctor’s appointments to be the translator and help with the language barrier. Soon, I became the family’s go-to translator for doctor’s appointments. My mom passed away in 2013 to cancer and my grandpa in 2014 due to other health issues. I was a sophomore in high school and all I wanted was to be able to do something to help others struggling with similar health issues.
Fast forward to college, my top-choice major was Biomedical Engineering because to me, it was the perfect blend of engineering and medicine. I wanted to get involved with research and make some sort of impact. I started looking up professors, read about their work, and emailed several of the ones I was interested in. I got a response from one of the professors, and he was actually a physician at the hospital in cardiac electrophysiology (EP) who works with a lot of biotechnology. In the spring of my first year, and I started working in the EP Lab on several projects and I have been there since. I learned about the internship opportunity at Cerillo in one of the major-wide emails that BME students receive. I was really interested after reading the job description me so I applied to the position to try my luck.
T: Any advice to first and second who are trying to get started with research?
A: Don’t limit yourselves. Be open to different opportunities. You will not always hear back from people and you will probably get some rejections, but it’s important to keep trying. Reach out to people and make connections. Be genuine, you will make mistakes but that’s okay. Don’t let your doubts get in your way. You won’t know until you try. I’m now in my third year and I’ve been actively pursuing a summer internship, but I’m struggling to land one. But I will keep trying, and I won’t give up. If I give up now, I for sure will never find one.