[MUSIC PLAYING] KAAVIAN SHARIATI: This is real. The work that I'm doing here can have actual implications for other people's lives as well as my own. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes very shortly before beginning my undergraduate studies at Cornell. Something that seemed to initially be a total burden for me morphed into a new opportunity. Upon my diagnosis, I was exposed to a field that was completely foreign to me previously. Also, with that, I learned about the state of diabetes care and some of its rather harsh realities.
There's this lag between engineering and innovation and medicine and patient care. I've become fascinated with this notion of physician engineers or physician scientists, people with these strong technical backgrounds that pursue careers in medicine, someone that has the capacity to take what they learn in the clinic and take their observations about what their patients are dealing with and what feedback they get from their patients and convert that into something that's tangible, that actually makes a difference.
In Dr. Minglin Ma's laboratory we focus on the use of biomaterials in, mostly, cell therapies and the interactions between biomaterials and cells. And in the past few years, we have developed this sub-focus on the diabetes sector and specifically targeting type 1 diabetes. Through the laboratory here and through the College of Engineering I was able to get access to impactful and high profile research, and I didn't have to wait until after graduation to be involved in work that was meaningful and impactful. I was able to pick up these different skill sets, whether that was working in bioinstrumentation or tissue engineering or more hard-line engineering, like working with circuits for the purpose of knowing how to apply those understandings to the problems that I was seeing. And I'm eager to use those skills in the medical field.
You are encouraged from the start to venture outside of your academic bubble and major to pursue something that doesn't become defined by a simple narrative. You're encouraged to live a complex academic life while you're here and beyond. I was able to take these engineering course works and look at them from this medical point of view and trying to keep the engineering in mind and also address diabetes in the laboratory here. The mere presence of these opportunities at Cornell is what allows one to venture outside of what might be their most traditional path to a path that is actually more well-informed and unique and resourceful.
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Kaavian Shariati ’20, a biomedical engineering major, speaks about his undergraduate research experience in the lab of Minglin Ma, associate professor in the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.