Moving Toward a Future in Bioengineering Research

By succeeding academically, thriving in two co-ops, participating in student groups, and working with a mentor, Hannah Kim, E’24, bioengineering, is set to pursue an advanced degree with a research focus on tissue mechanics and tissue biology.

Hannah Kim, E’24, bioengineering, was fascinated with the idea of transforming the human body with adaptive technologies that would help individuals with disabilities or injuries and those who wanted to improve their physical capabilities.

She arrived at the College of Engineering with a plan to learn how to design prosthetics and orthopedic devices, but while attending a course in quantitative physiology for bioengineers, she decided to shift focus to molecular, cell and tissue engineering.

“I could see the pieces falling into place,” Kim says.

Two successful co-ops and participation in student groups have reinforced this shift. In addition, Sandra Shefelbine, professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, has mentored Kim on her journey. Shefelbine has been particularly helpful in guiding Kim as she evaluates research and graduate school options, she says.

Her first co-op experience was at Generation Bio, where Kim worked on a team miniaturizing assays, or experimental methods. “I had a lot of autonomy and a great supervisor,” Kim says.

On her second co-op, Kim assisted Chiara Bellini, associate professor and associate chair for graduate studies, bioengineering. She worked on the Integrated Cardiovascular and Pulmonary team to study the effects of air pollution, such as cigarette and wildfire smoke, on cardiac and pulmonary systems.

“I did a lot of tissue staining, microscopy, and data analysis looking for specific markers on images of tissue,” Kim says.

She has boosted her education experience with student clubs as well. She helped launch Disability Inclusion at the College of Engineering, a new student group that aims to improve the physical and educational environment for people with disabilities.

Kim has been active in the Health Humanities Club, which examines new ways to look at healthcare using history, art, and English literature. She also does research with the Digital Humanities Group, focusing on the Early Caribbean Digital Archive. Kim combs through 19th-century manuscripts such as travel diaries to extract information about enslaved and Indigenous people.

“It’s been really nice to do research both in and outside my major at Northeastern,” Kim says.

Kim is looking forward to future research work with a focus on tissue mechanics and tissue biology, specifically on joints and connective tissue.

Related Faculty: Sandra Shefelbine, Chiara Bellini

Related Departments:Bioengineering