Michelle A. Visbal Onufrak, Ph.D. Student, Biomedical Engineering, Born and Raised in Puerto Rico
Michelle was born and raised in Puerto Rico, where she completed bachelors and master degrees in Electrical Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, PR. As an undergraduate student she participated in the Purdue Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program in 2008 where she had the opportunity to work in developing miniature mass spectrometry instrumentation in Dr. Zheng Ouyang and Dr. R. Graham Cooks’ research groups.
In 2009, she was awarded the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Graduate Scholarship to assist her in continuing her graduate studies. During her masters she was also an NIH RISE-UPRM scholar, a program which seeks to support underrepresented minorities in pursuing graduate careers in the biomedical sciences. Her research experiences during this time included development of biomedical instrumentation and electronics, and nanotechnology for cancer diagnostics and treatment.
After completing her masters, she joined Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation in Schenectady, NY, a company which provides support to the research and development of advanced power systems for the US Nuclear Navy fleet. She is also a licensed Electrical Engineer of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Since fall 2013, she has been pursuing her PhD in Biomedical Engineering (BME) under the mentorship of Dr. Young L. Kim of the Weldon School of BME at Purdue University. Her research project consists in developing non-invasive optical imaging devices for clinical assessment of pre-cancerous lesions, in collaboration with the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. At the Weldon School she has also served as a teaching instructor for BME 305 - Bioinstrumentation.
She has been part of the Minority Engineering Program (MEP) since Fall 2014 where she started as an ECE 201/202 tutor for the MEP Academic Success Center. She is now a Graduate Assistant for MEP, where she works with student retention efforts such as the Academic Success Coaching Program and teaching the ENGR 180 course. After she obtains her PhD, she would like to pursue research and development career opportunities in academia, industry, as well as in entrepreneurship of biomedical devices.