Hi, my name is Soundarya Sitaram. I am 24 years old and come from Chennai. I am doing a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering and have been at UT for about a year and a half.
My degree programme is about developing innovative products for the healthcare industry and optimizing the processes that will improve treatment and quality for individuals. It is an upcoming, multidisciplinary field that combines engineering, life sciences, biology, nanotechnology, chemistry, physics and mechanical and electrical engineering. It allows you to specialize in one of three tracks – Imaging and Diagnostics, Neural Motor Systems or Bionanotechnology. I chose the latter, where I am involved in developing and improving exciting new drugs, as well as technologies that restore the function of diseased organs and damaged tissues.
My Bachelor’s gave me a general overview, with a thesis on biomaterials and an internship in tissue culture. Afterwards, I wanted to explore an exciting new field of drug delivery, but it proved difficult to find a Master’s. Shifting interests from electrical to biological engineering as an undergraduate had limited my options, with some Master’s requiring additional pharmaceutical or bioscience studies. However, UT offered a unique Master’s, with a more flexible curriculum, allowing me to formulate my own programme. This meant I could explore my field of interest while developing the skills I still lacked. The second-year compulsory internship and Master’s thesis are also unique. Exploring two different research projects in a company and university setting, and obtaining a feel for both is great. The application process was straightforward – I just submitted the application and waited for a reply. No additional entrance exam or application fee was a big plus.
I lived in an International House on campus during my first year. There was a mix of people from various nationalities and we would arrange dinners, tea parties and many house activities. Interacting with these people from so many different nationalities changed my perspective on life. Studies aside, UT has various cultural and sports associations, where you can be part of something new and learn a different skill or an art. I joined ‘Chase’ – a jazz dance club. We also have the ISA, which organizes various events such as Dandya, Diwali and Holi every year and maintains a rich Indian culture and tradition.
I would definitely recommend the University to my friends. In the field of tissue engineering and targeted therapeutics, UT is a major starting hub with many opportunities in terms of PhDs and funding, start-ups and ground-breaking research. Most of all, as a university with a focus on ‘internationalization’, it gives you the opportunity to work with students from all over the world and learn new things.
I would like to continue my work as a researcher. Although I don’t see myself as a professor, applying for grants, etc., in the long run I would like to be close to the R&D side, either as an academic or in a company, doing my own kind of research which combines the fields of targeted therapeutics and lab-on-a-chip.