Graduate Member Spotlight: Carolyn Chlebek

Graduate Member Spotlight

Carolyn Chlebek


Biomedical Engineering

Expected Graduation Date: 2021

Cornell University



Carolyn has been a member of SWE since 2012. She currently serves as the Graduate Member Coordinator (GMC) 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 further enhanced her SWE network by attending several conferences, including WE13, WE14, WE15, WELocal Providence, and several regional conferences. She competed in two technical poster competitions at SWE conferences, and placed 1st at the Region F 2014 Conference, and 3rd at the WE14 poster competition. She looks forward to meeting more SWE members and increasing her skill set at the upcoming WE18 conference. Carolyn will be giving a talk about the uses of social media for self-promotion, as well as competing in the Graduate Student Rapid Fire Competition.


Outside of SWE, Carolyn has been active in organizations such as the Cornell chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society, where she held a leadership role managing the outreach program. As an undergrad, Carolyn was very involved in Engineering Ambassadors, which is an outreach program delivering guest lectures to underserved school districts. Carolyn is currently a member of the Orthopaedic Research Society, and as an undergrad was part of the Tau Beta Pi and Phalanx Honor Societies.


Carolyn received assistance from the Rensselaer Leadership Scholarship in her undergraduate studies. She 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. Carolyn is currently receiving financial support as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Outside of financial awards, Carolyn was also awarded “Outstanding Peer Mentor” through the Cornell University Empower program. As an undergraduate student, she was recognized as a SWE Region F Collegiate Emerging Leader,


Carolyn is a Ph.D. student in the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University and anticipates graduating in 2021. 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. Carolyn is interested in better understanding the onset of these disease states and identifying targets for healthcare intervention. She is combing the use of bioinformatics tools, such as RNA sequencing, with the use of mechanical loading to further examine bone growth and aging.


After graduating, Carolyn plans to obtain a research-focused professorship. She is interested in working with students in both a research setting and through advising and teaching. In a perfect world, Carolyn would also be able to transition her research into start-up companies as well.


Outside of lab, Carolyn loves to bake – recently she has designed cupcakes representing a friend’s thesis work, featuring histology slides of knee joints – check them out on Carolyn’s twitter: @carolyn_chlebek! Carolyn is also a very active person and has recently become more interested in lifting.


Fun Fact about Carolyn: Carolyn teaches group fitness classes at Cornell University – this semester she will be teaching “Body Blast” which provides participants with a combination of cardio, strength, and core training!



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