Andrea Morrell

andrea morrellBS biomedical engineering '12

(Pursuing PhD in biomedical engineering at Columbia University)

Occupation: Graduate student
Residence: New York, NY
Community activities: Gamma Phi Beta sorority, Graduate Society of Women Engineers

When and why did you choose to study abroad? What factors (your major, other commitments, Take Five) did you weigh as you were making the decision to study abroad?

I'd been thinking about studying abroad since I was a freshman. Being an engineering major, my choices were more limited as far as study abroad locations went. But I attended an info session for a new engineering program in Madrid and that did it for me. I knew I wanted to be in Madrid. Meeting my major requirements was a big consideration for me in choosing this program, and I was able to take classes for my major (and some fun ones too!) in Madrid and graduate on time the following year.

What was returning to campus like for you?

Returning to campus came with mixed emotions for me. I was so happy to see my close friends again and return to the familiarity of my life at Rochester. But at the same time, I missed the independence and unique experiences that I had while living and studying abroad. Luckily, a lot of my friends had also studied abroad during the same semester I did, so we helped each other through our first semester back on campus.

What do you do now and why did you choose this career?

I'm a graduate student in BME at Columbia, where I conduct research in a bone bioengineering lab. I decided to attend graduate school because I wanted to continue to do research in bone biomechanics and learn more about this specific field. I also figured that a graduate degree would make me a more competitive candidate for when I apply for jobs in industry.

What skills, tools, or knowledge gained from studying abroad do you draw on since graduation?

I've learned how to better communicate ideas as an engineer with other engineers from different backgrounds. There are several international students working in my lab and I draw on my experiences solving engineering problems with my Spanish classmates in working with my labmates. I also gained a sense of independence while living in Madrid that helped make my transition to living in NYC for graduate school a lot easier.

Where would you like to be in five years?

In five years, I would like to have finished my PhD thesis (fingers crossed!) and be starting work in the medical device industry developing orthopedic implants such as knee and hip replacements.

What advice do you have for current students contemplating studying abroad?

It is possible for science and engineering majors to study abroad! However, it does requires a little extra effort in planning your coursework for your semester abroad. Faculty members as well as the Center for Study Abroad are both great resources to help you plan accordingly so that you're not panicking to get courses approved when you return. Be prepared to have the time of your life and to find a place outside of your home country to call your own.