As an engineering student at Rutgers, Juilee Malavade was able to shape a unique course of study that combined her interests in athletics, biology, and engineering, graduating with a degree in biomedical engineering along with a double major in exercise science and sports studies. Armed with a competitive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Scholarship, she will pursue a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering with a concentration in mechanobiology at Duke University, beginning in the fall.
Mechanobiology is an emerging field of science that studies cells from an engineering perspective, focusing on how physical forces and changes in the mechanical properties of cells and tissues contribute to development, cell differentiation, physiology, and disease.
Malavade found her way to this field of study after initially considering a career as an orthopedic surgeon. After participating as a high school student in the Governor’s School of Engineering and Technology (GSET), a competitive academic summer program in New Jersey overseen and managed by the School of Engineering, it changed how she saw engineering.
“I realized I was more interested in the root cause of a medical issue and what could be done at that level, not just after someone got sick.” she says.
With biomedical engineering providing her a pathway to inventing devices and equipment that drive medical advances, Malavade was also interested in digging even deeper. A double major allowed her to understand the mechanisms of the human body and the benefits of exercise on health.
“Exercise is about biology and understanding the science behind the body and how it functions and performs,” she says. “Biomedical engineering provides the tools to develop the medical devices that help people lead better lives.”
While a student at Rutgers, Malavade worked alongside biomedical engineering professor and department chair David Shreiber, conducting tissue engineering research and developing 3D collagen scaffolds.
“Dr. Shreiber was an amazing mentor,” she says, crediting him with how she now approaches engineering.
“He said I was too focused on the end goal and I should enjoy the journey. In engineering we’re always looking for the solution, but it’s sometimes more about what you learn along the way that’s the real lesson.”
During her time at Rutgers, Malavede was a member of the Rutgers Engineering Honors Academy and the Engineering Governing Council. As an alumna, she has every intention to remain active in the Rutgers community. She has already contributed to the Scarlet Seniors Campaign, designating her gift to support GSET, the place where it all started for her.
“From the beginning, Rutgers provided me with the resources and research potential,” she says. “People here care and are invested in your success. They are in your corner helping you as friends, deans, and faculty.”