Now that’s she’s in, Chrobak is making the most of every minute. Partnering with her advisor, biomedical engineering associate professor George Pins, and collaborator and fellow BME professor Glenn Gaudette, she’s been working on a cardiac patch that could help regenerate damaged heart tissue after a heart attack. “We are hopeful that our work can contribute toward the development of better treatment options for patients,” she says. Since heart attack victims are often left with scar tissue that can prevent the heart from working at full capacity, it can ultimately lead to further heart failure. That, along with the fact that cardiovascular disease is currently a leading cause of death with limited treatment options, gives Chrobak much inspiration for her work toward a PhD in biomedical engineering.
It both deepens her existing research experience, and allows her to return to her career with stronger leadership skills and a higher level of impact. “I want to be able to contribute to discussions at a company that ultimately influence the projects that are pursued,” she explains.
So far, the most challenging aspect of her graduate program was simply figuring out where to begin her journey. Tackling a topic very different from anything she had previously researched, Chrobak says she’s had “a wonderful network of supportive staff and fellow students that helped along the way. WPI has definitely challenged me mentally and emotionally, and has pushed me to become a better researcher.” She says she’s lucky to have an incredible support system.