Student wants to help others by combining engineering and medicine

Kenya Alfaro

Kenya Alfaro

It’s a long way from Long Beach, California to Athens, Georgia, but for Kenya Alfaro that distance is part of a larger journey as she maps out a career in engineering.

A rising senior at California State University, Long Beach, Kenya is one of 11 undergraduates from across the nation selected to participate in the University of Georgia’s Nanotechnology and Biomedicine Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program this summer.

Working with Peter Kner, an associate professor in the UGA College of Engineering, Kenya is using novel super-resolution imaging techniques to study how the common cold virus affects mitochondria, a component of animal cells.

“I want to work on neural engineering, such as brain-machine interfaces, when I go to graduate school,” said Kenya. “This REU experience helped me improved certain skills I’ve learned as an undergrad and it introduced me to the biological side of engineering.”

Kenya, who is pursuing a double major in biomedical engineering and electrical engineering, says she’s always had a passion for math but also wanted to solve problems and help others. She says her research experience this summer at UGA helped her realize she wants to focus on a career in research in the biomedical industry.

Students in the Nanotechnology and Biomedicine REU will present their research Thursday, July 20 during a joint symposium with other UGA REU participants. The event begins at 9 a.m. at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

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