Audrey Bowden - 2017 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Vanderbilt University, USA
Country of Birth: USA
I got my first exposure to engineering in high school, which was a magnet school for math and science. I was inspired to pursue engineering because of the sheer joy that my classes brought me and my strong preference for disciplines that had solid answers based on fact, not subjectivity.
As a professor, I teach in the classroom as well as the lab. In the lab my responsibility is to direct our research program and solicit adequate funding to carry out our projects, while teaching students to become independent investigators. In the classroom I teach students new topics aligned with the curriculum.
The biggest obstacle in my career has been maintaining a sense of confidence despite receiving numerous rejections. The best strategy is to not take it personally and to move on to the next task. I also wish someone had advised me better on how to plan out a research project over many years (for example, as might pertain to a grant).
If you are interested in STEM and you have a question – ask! Too often women lose out for failure to have asked questions or for support when the opportunity presented itself.