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Mary-Ann Mycek

Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA
Country of birth: USA

Educational background: PhD, MA Physics, University of California, Berkeley, USA; BS Physics, Rochester Institute of Technology, USA

Mary-Ann MycekWho or what inspired you to work in science/engineering?
For as long as I can remember, I've always loved puzzles, problem solving, and mathematics, and I've always been curious about nature and very interested in learning new things. Also, I've always enjoyed designing and building things, so applied science and engineering research are a natural fit for me.

Primary responsibilities of your current job
My professional objective is to improve human health through research and education in Biomedical Optics. My "bench-to-bedside" research program involves developing ways to quantitatively probe living cells and tissues, with the goal of impacting patient care by developing non- and minimally-invasive biomedical optical diagnostic technologies. I have, what is for me, one of the best jobs in the world! I work with brilliant, dedicated researchers
(academic and clinical faculty, researchers from industry, postdoctoral trainees, graduate and undergraduate students) from varied educational backgrounds (physical and life sciences, medicine, engineering, and mathematics) to attempt to answer difficult questions and solve extremely challenging problems. Each day, I learn something new from my colleagues and I teach something new to someone else, which is very satisfying.

Advice you wish you had received when you were first starting out
I wish someone had advised me early on about how useful it is as a scientist and engineer to have a broad and diverse background education and set of research experiences. As students, we tend to focus on a specialized course of training, which is important for achieving "depth" of knowledge in a fi eld, of course, but it is also important to have as much
"breadth" of knowledge as possible. I was fortunate to have a diverse set of research experiences during my undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral training, and I think that has helped me in my career.