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Aneetta Kuriakose

Biomedical Engineering PhD Candidate

Aneetta Kuriakose

Congratulations on your National Institutes of Health (NIH) pre-doctoral fellowship! How did it feel when your proposal was accepted?

I had been applying for this fellowship for quite a long time—this was my third attempt, actually. When I was writing my third proposal, I was pregnant. And I had this gut feeling that I might get it. I think my pregnancy changed my thinking. I just felt more goal-focused and confident.

Balancing new motherhood and family with rigorous research must be challenging. How do you manage it?

With pregnancy, I took more than a semester off. Since our lab involves chemicals, I did non-chemical work inside the lab. I also used the pregnancy time to focus more on that proposal, so I give credit to my son! And I also give credit to the support of my family—I’m not sure I would be able to do anything without them. And to my mentor, Dr. Kytai Nguyen. She has been very supportive and flexible in my research work. Not everyone has such an opportunity, and I am really grateful to her and to be in her lab.

Can you share more about your research?

We are working on developing a minimally invasive treatment for peripheral artery disease. Our method involves using balloon devices used in angioplasty procedures, where we modify those balloons and incorporate nanomedicine into them. Not only would it be less invasive, it would not leave any foreign material, like a stent.

You’re a trailblazer as the first UTA student to win this prestigious NIH award. Any advice to future student researchers who hope to follow in your footsteps?

This is not something that only I can do. I just started it—it doesn’t mean it’s not actionable. Use your past rejections as a confidence booster because you can learn from them.

What’s next for you in the future?

I will finish my PhD, get established, and focus on family. And at the same time I want to do either a postdoctorate or work as a researcher in the industry. It depends on what life is going to offer to me, but I’m open to it all.

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