Grad Member Spotlight: Carolyn Chlebek

Our Spotlight today is our new GMC-Elect, Carolyn!



Carolyn has been a member of SWE since 2012. She currently serves as the Graduate Member Coordinator-Elect (GMC-E) on SWE’s Graduate Leadership Team. As an undergraduate at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Carolyn served in many different roles within her SWE section spanning outreach and professional development functions. She was also active at the regional and societal levels, and held the position of Collegiate Senator for two terms. Combining her experience as part of the Region F Collegiate Team and as a member of RPI SWE, she created the first Collegiate Leadership Summit in Region F. This region-wide meeting provided collegiate members with targeted presentations on everything from soft skills that increase success in technological fields to developing strategies for personal financial investment success.

Carolyn received assistance from the Rensselaer Leadership Scholarship in her undergraduate studies. She has received funding from the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program to allow her to focus on developing effective teaching skills during her PhD studies in addition to the research skills she will gain.

What is your degree program? When do you expect to graduate?

I am in the Ph.D. program in the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University. I expect to graduate in 2021 or 2022.

Give a brief explanation of your research experience

Osteoarthritis and osteoporosis are diseases affecting a significant portion of the population – 10-12% of the adult population suffer from osteoarthritis and 30% of the people over 65 suffer from osteoporosis. These diseases also both present in higher prevalence in women than men. As a first-year Ph.D. student, my research project is still under development but I plan to develop methods to improve treatment of each of these diseases. I am interested in better understanding the onset of these disease states and identifying targets for healthcare intervention.

What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your career goals?

I would like to continue performing biomedical research. Ideally, I would like to hold a professorship in which I could perform research, teach the next generation of engineers, and possibly work on start-up medical device companies to help my research transition to mainstream healthcare more quickly.

What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?

I love to bake – recently I have become interesting in baking bread specifically. I am a very active person and love to run and play soccer. Recently, photography has become a new hobby for me as well!

What’s a fun fact about you?

One of my life goals is to visit all the national parks in the United States. I have only been to Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Acadia, Haleakala, and Hawai’I Volcanoes so I have some exciting adventures waiting for me!


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