The Graduate School Advance to a Higher Degree

Global Ambassador: Emeka Nwanochie

Emeka Nwanochie is from Nigeria. At Purdue, Emeka is pursuing his PhD in Biomedical Engineering. 

Ambassador Q & A (Questions and Answers)

Emeka Nwanochie

Why did you choose Purdue?

Besides the fact that Purdue University is a highly ranked engineering school in the country, and it was recommended by my old college professor/Purdue alumnus, I was particularly drawn to the fact that Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering offers a unique pathway program that aims to recruit scientists (like me) with no prior engineering training but demonstrate strong interest in applying engineering principles to solve biomedically relevant issues.

Please briefly describe your research.

My research focuses on the understanding and utilization of specific biomolecular and chemical interactions to inform the design, development, and integration of molecular diagnostic assays onto portable platforms. Currently I am working on a collaborative project that aims to bring a sample-to-answer smartphone-based HIV viral load monitoring device near the point-of-care.

How did you decide what to study?

I chose biomedical engineering particularly because of the increased potential of research work that can be applicable in real life situations. My previous graduate work focused more on an exploratory path towards solving biomedical problems by understanding and elucidating complex biochemical pathways and molecular interactions. However, translation of these types of research often time progresses rather slowly and thus, my reason for pursuing other research interest with an immediate direct impact.

What was your process for selecting a graduate school?

I understand that finding and making the right choice for graduate school might seem quite inundating. I lived it, and so can you. My process involved taking advantage of the numerous resources made available on individual school’s official webpage. In cases where I needed more information on a subject, I would quickly reach out to the graduate school contact person, current graduate students, and members of a particular lab of interest. I would later use this information to populate my pros and cons excel spreadsheet to help narrow down my options. In the event where a decision could not be made outright, I would wait until after each recruitment visit to campus, which always makes my decision a lot easier.

Where do you spend most of your time on campus?

85% of my time on campus is spent in my lab down in Martin Jischke Hall of Biomedical Engineering. The other 10%, at the recreational sports center.

How did you decide where to live?

My current place was recommended to me by a senior graduate student whom I met during the recruitment visit on campus. The power of socializing.

What does your typical day look like?

A typical weekday by my book begins at 5:45 am when I get up from my bed to get ready for my morning workout session down at the recreational center. After I am done at 7 am I go back home to freshen up. I am usually back on campus around 8 am. I usually don’t have a specific time to get off work as this is hugely dependent on my experiments for that day. But on average, I am usually home before 10 pm since I am an early riser. As boring as this routine may appear, it has made me quite very productive. The important thing is finding what works for you and stick to it.

How do you de-stress in your free time?

Besides, hitting the gym early in the morning, occasionally I love to eat ice cream while watching a really bad movie. One where the producers and cast alike, are not even trying. This usually takes away the stress of the day as it requires no brain power to keep up. Over the weekends, if not working, I catch up with my colleagues/friends and sometimes we grill outside depending on the weather.

How do you keep yourself organized?

I am very good at setting and sticking to early internal deadlines to accompany every major deadline I need to meet. This helps with providing a good handle on things without having the anxiety that comes with working very close to important deadlines. I understand that this does not work for most people (at least from my own observation) but it has always worked for me.

What are you hoping to do after you graduate from Purdue?

I am hoping to find a job in industry either as a consultant or as a senior scientist. Places with possible prospects includes the West (California, Seattle) or East Coast (Washington D.C, New York, Boston) of the United States.

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