Ashwathi Nair: From Pre-Med to Possibility

Ashwathi Nair ’19 Biomedical Engineering

“I feel like my research experiences have not only taught me how to be a good researcher, but how to work well on projects with longterm goals and work well in teams or along others. These experiences have provided me skills to work on and strengthen and [they] are tangible products that I will be able to take with me to my new career once I graduate.” – Ashwathi Nair ‘19

Ashwathi Nair served as an Undergraduate Research Ambassador for the 2018-2019 school year. Ashwathi is a May 2019 graduating senior in Biomedical Engineering with a focus in Biomechanics and a certificate in Quality Control of Regulated Medical Technologies. After graduation Ashwathi will be working at Stryker Communications in Flower Mound, Texas as a Quality Engineer.

Aswathi’s Research Journey

Ashwathi’s current career choice is the result of her dynamic research journey at Texas A&M University. Originally, Ashwathi was convinced that she wanted to go to medical school to become a doctor.  She decided to major in biomedical engineering and started working in a biomaterials lab her sophomore year. However, after joining the Cardiovascular Pathology Lab as a junior and interacting more with corporate industry leaders, Ashwathi eventually realized that she wanted a career in the quality control industry. As a student worker in the Cardiovascular Pathology Lab, Ashwathi collaborated with her peers to assist pathologists in reviewing and analyzing the efficacy of medical devices pre- and post- market. This unique opportunity proved to be the perfect balance between industry methods and her passion for conducting research. When asked about her career transition, Ashwathi said that “Often times, people think that being involved in research means higher academia or goals towards being a professor, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. My research experiences is what has led me to where I am today. It’s what has guided me throughout college and has impacted me in social and technical skills I can hold onto for a lifetime.”

On Mentorship

Ashwathi also spoke on the importance of receiving guidance and mentorship as an undergraduate saying that “Research can feel tiring or restrictive. I feel that my faculty mentor and my academic advisor really helped me ration through what aspects of research I loved/came naturally to me and what I needed to maybe focus more on. They both encouraged me to explore what was out there for me to find my final career path, and I am thankful to have had them support my decisions in undergraduate research.” Ashwathi said that this push from her mentors to explore her true interests was particularly important, “Had I not ventured outside of my materials lab, I may have never realized that I find the research & development part of industry extremely fascinating.”

Aswathi’s Advice for Freshmen

Aswathi’s advice to freshman and prospective researchers was “Do not be afraid- take your chance and run with it. One of my biggest regrets is that I did not start research earlier. As an ambassador, one of my biggest pushes is for freshman to get excited about and involved in research. Professors and labs specifically look for freshman who will be able to retain and maintain their labs- the university needs fresh and thriving minds to take on projects and experiments and I firmly believe that first year students have full capacity for it. I would advise freshman to not be afraid and to take any chances involving research that they can. For both freshman and aspiring undergraduate researchers- realize that research is about hard work and dedication, but also networking. This is how you learn how to relay information to others, work in a team, and undergo self-discovery. You also get out what you put in. So put in more hard work, time, and dedication to obtain amazing results and rewards at the end. Research can help shape you in so many different ways that you won’t even realize you needed.”