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Story in the School of Engineering

Kaur photo

Sandeep Kaur '11

Bioengineering major, Operations Management and Information Systems Minor
At a glance:

A bioengineering major hones her skills at NASA and hopes to help cure muscle dystrophy.

Before she was a Bronco, Sandeep Kaur knew she wanted more than just a degree from an engineering school. “To help one another is our civic duty; and to provide technology to aid the underprivileged is my engineering duty,” says Kaur.

Kaur immediately began looking for opportunities at Santa Clara to apply this philosophy to engineering. She joined the Center for Nanostructures, an on campus community that pools people’s interests in nanoscale technology. “I approached Dr. Yang after my freshman year,” explains Kaur. “I showed interest in his research and, once certain classes were completed, he introduced me to a NASA researcher and I started my first project.”
This project involved working with an atomic force microscope at the NASA Ames Research center during the summer. Kaur learned the technical aspects for analyzing how carbon nanotubes function. In short, this work deepened Kaur’s understanding of how to “protect muscle fibers from degeneration.”
After this experience, Kaur determined that she wanted to work in the medical field in order to help those with muscle dystrophy  Muscle dystrophy, a disease that weakens the muscles in the human body, is often hereditary. By studying the properties of muscle stem cells and their substrates, Kaur hopes to “understand how the mechanical and surface chemistry affect the development of the muscle stem cells” in order to find a cure for the disease.
Kaur’s most rewarding experience with stem cell research came while giving a presentation to engineering alumni. “In the audience were the parents of a muscle dystrophy child,” she recalls. “The couple was so happy. They were interested and supportive of my work. This is when I realized that my engineering degree can bring fortune to others, as it has with this family.” Kaur continues to keep in touch with the family to this day, updating them on her research.

After graduation, Kaur plans to tackle graduate school to further her bioengineering research. She says she’s prepared to join this industry as “an emerging bioengineer and leader.”

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